Arts  

After elections, thespians set to take over Lagos

Previous scenes of the Lagos Theatre Festival

From April 8 to 14, 2019, the city of Lagos will turn to a Cathedral of performances, as lovers of the thespian art converge on the hallowed grounds of 2019 Lagos Theatre Festival (LTF).

Themed, Imagine the Unimaginable, this edition will be hosting about 600 artists, who are expected to produce over a hundred performances at 20 venues in a period spanning six days.

Aside from Freedom Park, Onikan, Lagos, which is the main venue for the festival, 19 other venues had been selected as altars of performances.

Like the last edition, this year will have curated and fringe strands. The fringe is an open access festival for all genres in performing arts including, small theatre, children’s theatre, dance, film, spoken word, comedy, puppetry, cabaret, music and interdisciplinary arts. It is designed to allow performers and companies not participating in the curated festival an opportunity to present work for viewing.

This edition was initially billed to hold from Monday, March 4 to Sunday, March 10, 2019. But was postponed due to the general elections, which ended yesterday.

The festival was conceived and launched in 2013 as a fringe festival by the British Council as an avenue for theatre makers in Nigeria to develop audiences for their productions, as well as to produce works for unconventional spaces.

The organisers said, “this year’s programme is designed to ensure that the festival offers unforgettable experiences to all stakeholders – audience, producers, performers, volunteers and everyone that will come in contact with the festival in any way.”

From the first festival held at the Eko Hotel, Lagos, which attracted just 635 attendees — where four companies featured (three Nigerian and one UK) in 16 shows over two days and for which UK expertise had to be hired for the production and management — the festival has grown considerably to attract anything less than 40 companies from Ghana, Nigeria, the UK and USA.

“We can now proudly say that this festival has become the birthing place for new work and new voices, a springboard for international collaborators, a resource for budding producers, writers, directors and artistes as well as a platform for over
5,000 artistes both local and international,” said Kenneth Uphopho, former Festival Director, whose three-year tenure ended last year.

As it is with the festival, there are opportunities for capacity building through various workshops scheduled to hold during the week. These workshops are going to feature experienced facilitators from different aspects of theatre.

The 2018 festival was 100 per cent managed by a Nigerian team, as the festival transitioned from a British Council project into a Nigerian organisation, run by a Board of Trustees.

This Board of Trustees will steer the continued growth of the festival into the future, as British Council is expected to just facilitate UK connections to the festival and the Nigerian theatre sector at large.

Plays to see include, Hertitude, by Kesiena C. Obue a fresh comer into the LTF family.

Some other plays include, Sisi Pelebe, a story of a family burdened by secrets to the point of disintegration. The shred of healing coming to the family is gleaned from revelation. It is a story of acceptance against approval and the ripple effects of negative cover-ups and hypocrisy in families.

Written and directed by Kelvinmary Ndukwe, it features brilliant actors such as, Francis Sule, Bunmi Sogade, Martin Chukwu, Deolu Amusan and Deola Gimbiya.

Swallow, another play that will be staged at the festival, is a one-woman show as told experiences of several female characters. It addresses intimate conversations that aren’t openly discussed, because they’re personal and discussed among fellow female friends or not uttered at all because society/culture demands such silence. The performance weaves poetry and monologue as Poet Obii Ifejika seamlessly moves through a collection of characters.

Tea party, a one-act play that happens in one place, will also be staged at the festival. In the play, five people are kidnapped, they wake up to the realisation of this and the psychopathic people who are behind their kidnap, decide to play a game with them. Only one person would leave the room alive and with a money. Manipulating their minds against one another. Stanley Okeke directs it.
Mama Said is an abridged piece of interactive theatre. It features a moment in the lives of five individuals where the lessons, thoughts and ideas passed down to them from one generation to another comes to a head. All this happens at a bridal shower. It is directed Benny Finisher.

Headlining the festival is Colour me pink, a total piece that deals with the aftermath of breast cancer. It stars students from the Performing Arts Workshop and Studios Academy Bootcamp.

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