Thursday, January 3, 2008
Once Upon 4 Robbers
Dec 23, 2007
At about 2 pm, I headed for the Island. Getting there 30 minutes later, I went down to Terra Kulture to catch Laspapi’s Sunday play. It happened to be a staging of Femi Osofisan’s Once Upon 4 robbers. I approached the back of the building and found my way into the auditorium. I discovered I had to pay the gate fee – N2000. My mind flashed back to my University days. I remember how many shows I was able to enter free of charge based on Personal recognition. For others, we had a way of pretending to be part of the technical crew. The idea was to hold a piece of wire / carry some electrical device as if you were part of the technical crew. If it were a religious musical concert, you just had to wear a white shirt on black trousers in order to look like a choir member. We had all the tricks up our sleeves. If by any chance, I knew any of the stage artistes, it was free entrance. Well, none of my old tricks was going to work at Terra Kulture , so I humbly paid and entered the auditorium. “Once Upon 4 robbers” is a play I had seen twice in my University days. It is a play that is set in the military era speaking of concepts such as trust, betrayal, bravery and social stratification. I will not attempt to critique Laspapi’s production because a critic in this case would be expected to have seen the play a couple of times and know the lines and appropriate dramatizations. It was a good production despite the limitations of the stage. The Terra Kulture stage could not be more than 20ft by 8ft. The UI theatre where it has been fully expressed is almost 4 times that size. Also the auditorium is a flat, plane surface with some elevation for the stage. It is my belief that theatre is best produced in a pit theatre with the audience looking at the stage from on high.
Cast was also limited to those who had to do the talking. Ok, end of Critique
Shortly after I sat down in the auditorium , 2 ladies got in and sat behind me. From the conversation , they sounded like Awon omo Lekki yen ( Lekki folks). Out of the 2, one seemed to have come to Nigeria for holidays. The conversation went thus-
Girl 1: When is the play starting?
Girl 11: The play will start when Mr. Oguntokun decides to show up
Shortly after Mr. Oguntokun shows up and welcomes the audience. He introduces the play and mentions his educational background. He happens to mention that he has a Masters in Law. This is the point where my ears zoom back to the Lekki duo behind. At the point where Mr. Oguntokun mentions having a Masters degree in Law,
Girl II: Hmmmm
I started to imagine the girl’s facial expression. I couldn’t turn back to verify this but I’m sure it was a dramatic expression.
At the end of the production, I hung around a little bit while the Lekki duo disappeared almost immediately. Anyway, I started wondering if these were not part of the ones who Laspapi once used these words for- “those who bay the moon because of me”. Going through his blog, he often paints a picture of a man whom so many females pray that Olorun Esan would visit.
However, I believe that the Theatre absolves its own. “The stage” is where restitution is made for the frailties of human existence. In simple English, No matter how much wrong you do in your life, the stage gives you a rebirth.
From there I proceeded to Nu Metro Bookshop and took part in my yearly ritual. I have a habit of going to the bookshop before the end of any year and picking up some Nigerian Contemporary works that are released or profiled that year. I use this last minute spree to make up for my neglect of such literary works during the year. I picked up
Measuring Time - Helon Habila
Waiting for An Angel - Helon Habila
The Activist- Tanure Ojaide
Half of a Yellow Sun - Chinamanda Adichie
Every Day is for the thief - Teju Cole
Nine Lives- El Nukoya
Yellow Yellow- Kaine Agary
The Phoenix- Chika Unigwe
Most of my Christmas holiday was spent buried in these books