Prof. Wole Soyinka
Literary icon, Prof. Wole Soyinka turned 78 Friday and to celebrate the milestone some members of the arts community have lined up activities in his honour. Still in the euphoria of this celebration, theatre lovers in Nigeria in Lagos are in for mind-blowing weekends all through this month as Soyinka’s play, Death and the King’s Horseman makes a return to the stage. The fact that it is Soyinka’s birth month and should be a beehive of literary activities cannot be over-emphasized. The play, written by Soyinka in 1975 is one of the most widely-read both on the continent and across the world.
Definitely one of the most performed plays also, Death and the King’s Horseman will be the feature play at Terra Kulture, Victoria Island, Lagos, all through the month of July. With some sketches of the play already performed to a large audience on July 1, the full scale production started last Sunday.
With a conflict built on the peculiar story of Elesin Oba, a man traditionally required to ritually commit suicide following the death of a king, the story presents an ever-interesting scenario which is alien to the worldview of the British colonial administration. The process of Elesin’s Oba’s spiritual passage, which is being prepared by the community, is halted when Pilkings, the British colonial officer intervenes in the ever-protective, Big Brother manner of the West, arresting Elesin Oba, the king’s horseman.
The play produced by the Performing Art Workshop and Studio was directed by Kenneth Uphopho.
The play will be subjected to new twists by Uphopho who has a credible team of cast and crew to help with the production to last for 4 weeks. On what informed his choice of the play among other works of Soyinka Uphopho said it was due to the fact that the play was particularly cited in the award of the Nobel Prize for Literature to Soyinka in 1986. According to him, members of cast include Patrick Diabuah, Bola Atitebi, Kelvin Mary Ndukwe, Austin Onuoha, Deola Shinaba, Samson Oklobia, Emmanuel Nlemadim, Tunji Odunfuwa, Seun Kentebe, Funmi Eko, Ibukun Fasunhan and a host of others.
The director added that the feature play would come up on July 29 while the other Sundays are for sketches of the play.