If you are up for a bit of culture in Lagos this weekend, then take in a play. It is somewhat customary for Nigeria’s theater scene to celebrate award-winning playwright and poet Wole Soyinka in July, his birth month.
While several companies celebrate the writer by bringing his fictional works to the stage, Wole Oguntokun and has directed a play based on the biographies of Soyinka – bringing the writer’s actual life to the stage.
During last minute rehearsals on Friday at the Muson Center, where his play “Eni Ogun” is showing this weekend, Oguntokun directed his Renegade Theater group. He tweaked and tightened movements up and down the stage at the Agip Recital Hall, changed the tempo of the live music sung by the cast and perfected the pace of the script, eager to deliver a great show.
The director has taken bits and pieces of Soyinka’s life, from his childhood in Abeokuta to his adulthood in London, and tied them together using narrators – often the main characters in his play.
It should feel disjointed, but the different stages of Soyinka’s somewhat intense childhood is married through the clever use of music.
The play explores the personalities of key people in Soyinka’s life – his rather strict school Head Principal father Samuel Ayodele Soyinka, whom the Nobel Prize winner called S.A and his “Wild Christian” of a mother, Grace Eniola Soyinka, who was also a political activist and part of the influential Ransome-Kuti family.
We follow Soyinka through the death of his younger sister Folashade during his primary school days, his insecurities at secondary school where he was bullied and his time at the university in London.
The music is powerful and the narration, while sometimes long, is beautifully delivered by the actors and demands your attention.
See Wole Soyinka’s life as told by this enthusiastic group of actors. It’s showing at the Muson Center through tomorrow and you can grab your tickets here.
Check out some behind the scenes photos from the rehearsals below: