- By Prisca Sam-duru
As part of concerted efforts aimed at revamping the theatre going culture of Nigerians, one of the best plays chronicling some of the topical issues in the country, Drumbeats for Darkness written by UK-based Nigerian author, Efemena Agadama is again on the spotlight.
The play is scheduled for performance at the School Auditorium, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka Anambra State on July 26, 2016.
In the performance, Agadama’s Drumbeat for Darkness’s casts beautifully and theatrically demonstrate creative mastery and artistic intelligence in unleashing the pinnacle of voice-tension and resetting modern drama in their course production.
Starring in the UNIZIK production are Anyian Gabriella as Oreva, Emeruwa Valentino as Prince Uke, Alor Cynthia as Omosioni, Okafor Lucky Emmanuel as Odeme a chief priest, Uchendu Chijioke Joseph as Aso a Chief Priest.
To watch the casts, students of Theatre and Film Studies of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, undertake these rehearsals of Drumbeats for Darkness, gives a masterful impression that the future of theatre and film is taking a new root in this federal university shortened as UNIZIK.
Critics and reviewers regard UNIZIK as one of Africa’s most renowned performing arts institutions due to its quality of performances that explore the furthest parts of theatre theories, paradigms and inventive practices.
In this fresh performance of Drumbeats for Darkness directed by Ebekue Onyeka, whose specialization is in Film Studies and Directing, the directing technique mirrors the elements of ancient Greek theatre where the works of the greatest tragedians in world literature – Sophocles, Aristotle and Euripides – established earlier elements of dramatic tragedies. Those great Greek tragedians kept their audiences and cities awed-bound through outdoor theatre, language and plot tightening. It is such dramatic techniques to hold audiences spell-bound that Onyeka has revamped in the rehearsals of Drumbeats for Darkness at UNIZIK.
And to reset modern tragedy and heightened language, Ebekue Onyeka has equally introduced previously unknown techniques in African oral literature, which distinguishes him as a creative director, who is not limited by academic theories. This dramatic inter flow of African oral literature and ancient Greek theatre authoritatively demonstrates that modern drama is yet to be explored to its unfrequented dramatic sphere.
In furtherance of his artistry, Onyeka is successfully working with the Theatre & Film students to create a beautiful production that uses the Isoko language and settings to dramatise the chants, drumming, acapella and choruses. Till date, one of the most beautiful productions of Efemena Agadama’s Drumbeats for Darkness has been the production at the Department of Dramatic Arts, Obafemi Awolowo University in 2010, directed by Momodu Evans. That production in OAU saw a heightened choreography of the war scene with uniformed warrior costumes built with raffia palms.