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Lagos Fringe Festival opens, honours Oduneye, Ajai-Lycett, Kelani

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Scene from previous festival

This year’s Lagos Fringe International Festival will honour Bayo Oduneye, Taiwo Ajai-Lycett and Tunde Kelani. The festival, which began yesterday, November 19, 2019, will run through the 24th at various venues across the city of Lagos.

The six-day festival, organised in partnership with Multichoice Nigeria, British Council Nigeria, Freedom Park and the Alliance Francaise, will bring together participants from Senegal, UK, South Africa, Canada, Brazil, Ghana, Portugal and Nigeria.

The highpoint of the event would be the conferment of meritorious service award on three notable personalities, who, in the words of the Festival’s artistic director, Kenneth Uphopho, have contributed immensely to the development of the theatre profession and as well as the shaping of the creative industry of Nigeria.

Uphopho said the honour is being conferred on the three on the recommendations of the Lagos Fringe advisory board, in recognition of the fact that they are “some of the very few ‘true icons’ of the Nigerian theatre, who have in particular, been ‘mentors’ of several generations of Nigerian theatre artistes”.

The three honoured artistes are:

Adebayo Adisa Oduneye, one of the most significant theatre directors in Nigeria and Africa, he trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA) in England and at the Carnegie Melon University, Pittsburgh, USA. For decades, he taught directing at the Department of Theatre Arts, University of Ibadan, and later at the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye, Abeokuta, where he took up adjunct professor seat after his retirement from the University of Ibadan.

‘Uncle B,’ as his numerous students and mentees fondly call him, has held several distinguished positions, including artistic director, festival drama manager (FESTAC 77), chairman of the Nigerian Film Corporation, and lately as Artistic Director of the National Troupe of Nigeria between 1991 and 2000. He is reputed to have directed nearly all the classic theatrical plays coming out of Africa in the 70s through the 2000s.

Ajai-Lycett, easily referred to as the “Dame of the Nigerian Stage and Screen”, Anty TAL has been a recurring decimal on the story of the Nigeria and African Theatre profession. She trained as a journalist in the United Kingdom and rose to become editor of Africa Woman, a political, economic and social magazine for black and African men and women in the Diaspora.

A chance encounter with a theatre producer made her become an actress, thus launching a career that has seen strut the stage and screen at home and broad for almost six decades now. She made her acting debut in December 1966, in Wole Soyinka’s The Lion and the Jewel, a two-act comedy directed by William Gaskill at the Royal Court Theatre in London. Subsequently, she enrolled at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

Kelani, Ace cinematographer, filmmaker and culture advocate, he is largely regarded as the standard for the Nigerian Film Culture. Founder of the famous Mainframe Productions (aka Opomulero), Kelani’s works, mostly on Yoruba language, have for decades manifest as the face of Nigerian cinema in the global film circuit.

Having been introduced to Yoruba literature from an early stage in his life, Kelani was greatly influenced by the travelling theatre tradition championed by the likes of late Hubert Ogunde, Kola Ogunmola and Duro Ladipo among others.


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