By Prisca Sam-Duru
The staging of Femi Osofisan’s play, Morountodun by the Drama Club of Atlantic Hall School, was all that Lagosians needed to cool-off, after a stressful Friday’s job. The performance was quite timely and apt for the Nigeria situation for fact that evidently, the men have performed abysmally having been in charge for 58 years. It came, therefore, as a clarion call to women to get into leadership positions and awaken the giant sleepwalking into doom.
‘Morountodun’, directed by stage veteran, MrGboyega Jerome was the 7th edition of the annual drama presentation of the Drama Club of Atlantic Hall School. It turned out to be an exhilarating and humorous performance by the young actors.
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Morountodun reflects the 1965 Agbekoya uprising when poor peasants revolted against the oppressive government. It juxtaposes past events with the present, highlighting the contributions of women to nation-building and peacekeeping. It eulogises noble acts of such women: Queen Moremi Ajasoro of Ife, Queen Amina of Zaria and even the Biblical Queen Esther, who all saved their people from extermination.
Osofisan’s play is rich in culture and the young actors did well to interpret their roles, beautifully. The lines were rather too long and one must commend them for a display of confidence and maturity on stage. Repeated use of flashback technique which at some point, incorporated a part of the Queen Moremi’s story, made the understanding of Titubi’s sacrifice easier. Cultural dance performances featuring the young actors clad in diverse Yoruba attires spiced up the drama.
Throwing the curtain open was BotokuAnjolaoluwa, the Director of a drama depicting the untold hardships the poor farmers in Agbekoya are experiencing. Simultaneously, the farmers are seen protesting high taxation without dividends. The over the pampered daughter of the most influential market women leader in the community, Titubi acted by Fadeyibi Feranmi and Ade-Onanuga Finutanoluwa, and her cohorts make their way into a location where the drama is ongoing. Believing that the actors are influencing the protesting masses, they move to disrupt the protest also ongoing. Titubi does not succeed but in the process, discovers a better way of carrying out her plan after an encounter with the Deputy Superintendent of Police whose mission at the moment is to fish out the leader of the protesters, Marshall (Okonkwo Lotanna). To succeed, Titubi volunteers to disguise herself as a prisoner so that when Marshal’s men storm the prison, she will be rescued as one of the prisoners. Fate takes a fresh turn on Titubi as Marshall falls in love with her and names her Morountodun. The tragic play came to a climax when the people found respite in the protective arms of Titubi.
Akinloye Adewale Abdulrazak who played the role of Bogunde has been consistently acting as a great comedian. Everyone looked forward to his storming the stage and belting out one funny act or the other. “It feels very good and accomplishing. Continuous rehearsal helped us to master our lines and put up that outstanding performance. It’s like riding a bicycle.” Akinloye said.
Some other major characters: OLIVIA Okoro who was AlhajaKabirat; President of the Drama Club, Finutanoluwa who acted as Senior Titubi etc., who spoke shortly after the play was proud of their performance, disclosing that “Mr Jerome ensures we practice constantly, encourages us a lot and makes us feel comfortable so when we get on stage we feel so free that we act as though it’s just our normal daily life.”
The Artistic Director of the play, Mr Jerome, said “My joy is that the children were able to pull through this one. There were so many obstacles but I thank God it ended beautifully.” Controlling children is usually a tall task and one wonders how Jerome manages to bring out the best in the children. “It comes with a lot of sacrifices.
There are times I’ll shout at them, pet them, try to make them realise that if you must be a star, you must make sacrifices.”, He said adding that “The play took about a year to package and it says simply that If the women are ready to take up their role as nation builders, we are ready to support them.”
The school Principal Mr Andrew Jedras said the play is a clarion call on the women, adding that if women are given the chance, Nigeria will be a lot better. Commending the students for an outstanding performance that earned them rapturous applause at different times, and a standing ovation at the end of the performance, Jedras said the actors had no stage fright noting that they ‘killed it’ with an amazing level of intelligence and capability.