Edgar: I want to shock everybody with my next theatre project
Joseph Edgar is an investment banker and chief executive, Duke of Shomolu Production (DSP), a theatre outfit based in Lagos. He has a bachelor’s degree in political science and also holds a master’s in Political Science and International Relations. An associate member of the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers, Nigeria, he has attended several career enhancement courses including, Senior Management Programme at Pan-African University, Lagos and Advanced course in Wealth Management at New York Institute of Finance. He has over 20 years of experience spread across investment and wealth management industry. In this interview with ENIOLA DANIEL, he spoke on his forthcoming stage play, 3Some.
What influenced your decision to leave investment banking for theatre?
I’M still an investment banker. I have my own outfit called Hamilton and Gorge; it’s an advisory firm. What people see or know of me is that side, which is involved in theatre production. I’m still an investment banker.
At what point did you decide to move to theatre?
I’ve always had passion for theatre from the university when I first came in contact with theatre but that side of me was muted for a long time, because of the banking part of me.
Things fell into place 10 years ago, when I stumbled on it. I did my first production for the fun of it, we had Alibaba and it was a story adapted from my book called, Loud Whisper, which is a compilation of my column in This Day, and that just fired me up. I’ve not stopped ever since.
In the last four years, you have done a couple of shows and written two books, what has inspired those stage plays?
I did Isale Eko and Oba Eshugbayi, which got amazing support from the corporate world. I don’t want to say passion, because it’s now a common thing for people to say. I just found out that when I’m in that spirit, that’s the creative part of me, I feel very fulfilled and have a sense of joy.
I will rather be watching rehearsal or how to raise funds for production than sitting down with suit and tie and do investment banking. It’s fun, the literary world has no boundary.
How lucrative is theatre production in Nigeria?
It’s very relative. It depends on what you are looking for as a person. For me, theatre production is very lucrative, but not materially; it is very lucrative in terms of network, exposure and influence. You walk into a place or someone walks up to say he saw my play; it’s more fulfilling than any material benefit you will get from it.
From your experience as a theatre producer, what are the challenges of doing theatre in Nigeria?
Funding is the main challenge. But the good thing is that I’m able to leverage on my experiences to raise capital.
The next one is the dearth of talent in the industry. There are some works you will find difficult to put on stage, because the talent is not really there. When you find it, the discipline is found lacking. Oba Eshugbayi really taught me a lot, because I found people that I paid money upfront and I didn’t see them again.
How did you overcome the challenges?
You have to be disciplined yourself, you have to be firm. You must have that mindset that nobody is indispensable, the only one who is not dispensable is the visioner, and in this case, it’s me. It’s my production, I’m the only one who is indispensable.
I once sacked a director two weeks to a show, he was surprised. I brought another director and the show was successful, once you have that mindset, nobody can push you aside.
Theatre in the last few years has remained in comatose. In spite of efforts to revive it, attendance at shows has continued to be low. What are you doing to bring back the glorious day?
I just want to thank the Lagos State governor, Akinwumi Ambode, for doing so much for theatre in the country.
The industry has felt his impact and I’ve felt him. He came to watch my last production (Oba Eshugbayi) and now he has built a couple of theatres in the state. Prior to this, we had just two focused based arena in Lagos —Tera Kulture and Muson Centre.
People could use other venues but a person like me who likes strong light and standard place will rather go for the two locations. It shows that the government is now giving serious support to art and this will boost production and increase the quality of production and also allow for people to start coming out to enjoy what we have to offer.
What is your upcoming show, 3some all about?
3Some is the fourth play from the Duke of Shomolu Productions platform. It is quite different from what I set out to do — to tell our stories through performance. I realised that something is going on now with the advent of Internet, which is called emotional infidelity.
So, we are talking about emotional infidelity, where partners are having illegal relationships on the net.
The story caught my attention, because it addresses this issue very clearly. It is going to force us to look at this area, which people don’t want to talk about it, they don’t just want to believe it’s happening. We are putting on stage this issue and as we watch, it will be telling stories of our lives and also assist us, not guiding against, but where it happens, how you’ll react to things like that.
So, it’s a passionate psycho-erotic play that tries to proffer solution needed to modern day relationships as it affect the internet.
3Some highlights mischievous play on words. It sweetly grabs your attention with its shocking title but immediately moves away from the assumed vulgarism to a family oriented story, which will carry the audience through a healthy look at deep issues like fidelity, communication, passion and responsibility in a committed relationship.
In a comic fashion, it pulls in the role of the iconic mother-in-law in the search for the elusive peace and stability in young marriages. Written and directed by Jude Idada, it comes with a strong production suite parading such industry giants like, Alibaba and Olisa Adibua.
It deals with sexual fidelity, emotional support for victims, it also talk about communication, responsibility; that is why we have very strong supporters like the front line healthy living multinational, Reckitt and Coleman; So fresh, Regenix Healthcare Services Limited, among others. And it’s for 18 and above.
This play will, among others, force an introspective look by the audience at their relationships in a bid to foster better understanding and strengthen bond, which in all would impact very strongly on society.
The play will be staged at the Agip Recital Hall of the MUSON Centre on June 8 and 9, 2019.
What’s the future for your theatre company?
It’s phenomenal, it’s expensive. My next project is going to take about a budget of N200 million and in 10 countries in Africa and it’s going to run for three years.
You are known to be a satirical writer, tell us about your soon to be released book and should we be expecting satire from the book?
The book is laced with sarcasm, and the title is Aaagh! I was in Accra recently and I was laughing about what I wrote.
I’m going to release the book on my 50th birthday, which will come up on July 4, 2019. It’s a 60,000-word book with a dual purpose.
It’s a memoir from my birth till now and the second section will be social commentary on Nigeria, the issue that affect us and the people that are driving the society; people like President Buhari, Tinubu, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Bobrisky, among others.
Bobrisky is playing an important role in the societal balance.
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