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|Invasion Of Lagos By An Area Boy written By Edozie Udeze by smemud(m): 12:13am On May 06, 2015|
At last, Professor Wole Soyinka’s The Beatification of Area Boy was premiered in Nigeria. Written and directed by the Nobel Laureate himself, the play formed part of the just-concluded Lagos Black Heritage Festival plays held at the Freedom Park, Lagos, last week. It is a play written in 1990 to indict the leadership of Nigeria over their indifference to the people’s quest for development, for the alleviationof poverty and the seemingly glorification of everything bad in the land. Edozie Udeze, who watched the play reportsFor once in many years, the theatre sector was quite agog with life as many thespians and theatre buffs were indeed excited. The excitement was mainly occasioned due to the ever presence of Professor Wole Soyinka, Africa’s foremost theatre practitioner, playwright and director. As the Lagos Black Heritage Festival went on uninterruptedly last week, Soyinka was seen in his natural and familiar element putting everything in order to ensure that his play,The Beatification of Area Boycame out beautifully well.From every corner of Freedom Park, Lagos, venue of the event,his well-trimmed baritone voice could be heard as he shouted instructions to the artistes during rehearsals. The play ran for three consecutive days and before it came on stage the first day, the playwright himself was on hand to direct proceedings. His orders were obeyed to the last latter because the artistes themselves also wanted to get it right. It is not always that the calibre of Soyinka comes out to direct one of his works. It is also not in his element to be seen mixing so freely and walking the paths for almost one week non-stop. So, when the cast and crew noticed how precious this play was to him, they quickly made the situationmore pleasant and appealing to him and others.Written during the turbulent days of Nigeria, when the Late General Sani Abacha held the reins of power,The Beatification of Area Boywhichis making its debut in the country, chronicles the tenets of the military style of governance. Not only that, Soyinka is deliberate in his choice of themes, events, concepts and atrocities in the play. His concept was to relatethe genesis of Nigeria from the moment she discovered oil in the Niger Delta. What did the military do with the oil and what it supposed to yield to thenation?Where is the pride of Nigeria as an oil producing state? Has oil really been a blessing, a curse or a mixed grill of confusion? At the height of the oil wealth when Nigerian leaders were supposed to invest and developthe nation, what did they do? All sorts of benefits and promotions were being given tocivil servants who in connivance with the powers that be, busied themselves siphoning and plundering the resources of the nation.From oil wealth to oil boom and then the advent of oil doom, Nigeria has now fallen from her utopian heights as poverty, crime, backwardness and more have taken over the soul of the society. In situatingthe story and carving out the different scenes, Soyinka made the metamorphosis real and evocative. Here the role of different types of individuals like the trader – turned-area boy, the judge, the policeman, the mama put, the job seeker, the ever-insatiable and deceitful Nigerian young lady and more, became a clarion call to periscope deeper into the voices of the society.Almost all societies of the world use their wealth to build infrastructures and provide for the masses, but in Nigeria wealth is used to further impoverish the poor and make the ruling class richer. Now thepeople themselves sit idly by and encourage the government to continue to plunder the nation by not doing enough to task their leaders. Who will now bail the cat? Who should be the final arbiter? How would the society function well if the people do not task and query those in power to give them what they deserve?In using the circuit type of rotating theatre stage, Soyinka further ensured that the rudiments of the play permeated the audience. As people sat in circles, they were made to shift their seats and move to different directions as the play progressed. This was permissible, for most of the scenes were made to represent and register serious flashbacksand introspects that dug deep into the fabric of the nation. This type of setting which is not common in Nigeria, further gave the play an undue aesthetics that indeed created so much hype and excitement in the minds of the audience.For three hours, the likes of Governor Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State, Sam Omatseye of The Nation Newspapers, Yemi Ogunbiyi, Olaokun Soyinka, theOgun State Commissioner for Health, Kunle Ajibade and suchother high calibre theatre enthusiasts sat to watch the play to relive the sorrowful historical stages of a nation in dire need of leadership. The Area boy himself who was in the habit of being in the know about everything that happened in the country was atthe centre of the play. He controlled his retail business as he liked and increased prices whenever he felt duty-bound to do so. He waited for every action of government to hike the prices of his wares. And he would invent all kinds of tricks to ensure that people patronized him. Moreover, he would tell his people how government’s senseless economic policies have been destroying the image of the society thereby making him and others unable to survive. The area boy syndrome was all over him as he mesmerised the stage and forced the audience to rely on him for the latest information about the state of the nation.In tow was the policeman who was to keep order but was also weighed down by the ever-troublesome and recalcitrant people around him.He moved from stage to stage, from one corner to the other to pester the audience and ensured that decorum was maintained. He himself was equally piqued by the situation of the country where hunger is a serious nightmare, where the payment of salaries was a huge problem and insecurity has become the order of the day.At a point the playwright narrowed the story down to Lagos. To him, Lagos is a symbol of Nigeria. The story ofLagos, is the story of Nigeria. With the Lagoon around, with the array of issues and masses of people in the city, what has the place become in the annals of Nigeria? In order that the beauty of the play is made manifest and more appealing and entertaining, Tunji Oyelanawas brought in to sing his popular and evergreen track ‘I love my country I no go lie’. The interlude equally made the audience go back into the labyrinth of time when Soyinka first composed the song to spite leaders. Fortunately, Oyelana sang it with renewed vigour and mandate that people joined him in the choruses. In all, the profundity of the play, proved that Soyinkawas the best to have directed it. All the issues of the nation within the period periscoped in the play were brought to the fore.However, the play has been seen by many as being on abridged form of the original text. The playwright may have done it on purpose to save timeand keep the audience wholly entertained. Besides that, it would have been more instructive too if the playwrighthad incorporated the latest style of political thuggery into the play. The system of area boyism in Nigeria keeps evolving. Their manner of operation gets more sophisticated day in day out. The ease with which political leaders engage them for their selfish motives is endless.Today, many of them have guns. Some have even becometoo powerful for their masters to control. After elections, they now constitute themselves intopowerful forces that become a big headache to the society. If, in the process of the presentation of this play, the director had updated this to suit the current situation it would have attracted louder and more pleasant applause from the people. The mood of the nation now is for the peopleto know how the political thugshad fared and operated in different locations in Nigeria during the just-concluded elections.Even though the play harped seriously on austerity measures, military interregnum, transport problem, the menace of social miscreants, bad leadership, oil pollution, bicycle allowances and later car allow
|Re: Invasion Of Lagos By An Area Boy written By Edozie Udeze by smemud(m): 12:17am On May 06, 2015|
ter car allowances and such other monstrous issues that tend to keep Nigeria down,The Beatification of Area Boy is still an evolving theme. It is a play that has to be done in a comprehensive manner to espouse in totality all the ugly and monstrous issues tearing Nigeria to shreds.
The hilarious responses of the audience showed how they followed the sequences and how they felt that the issues truly touched on their psyche. This is one of the effects of live theatre, which its primary motive is to appeal to the conscience of the people. It is a lesson and that was why when it premiered in Leeds, England and other parts of Europe, the play was well received.
The cast and crew included Dr. Tunde Awosanmi, Ropo Ewenla, Wole Oguntokun, Makinde Adeniran, Tunji Oyelana, Peter Badejo, Ijeoma Agu. Others were Wale Ojo, Toyin Osinaike, Jennifer Osammor, Taiwo Adeyemo, Tunji Sotimirin and many others.
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