By Prisca Sam-Duru
Renowned theatre producer and investment banker, Joseph Edgar, aka The Duke of Shomolu, has unveiled plans to begin a 9-billion-naira theatre project that will help in the creation of wealth and jobs come 2021.
Joseph who revealed his plans during a media chat in Lagos, noted that there is tremendous wealth in theatre which if properly harnessed, will reduce unemployment, boost the country’s economy and most importantly, stop dependence on the government for creation of jobs.
“Government does not create jobs”, Joseph who has employed over 300 individuals in his theatre productions began saying adding that “what it creates is an enabling environment for businesses to thrive”.
He noted that understanding the challenges of producing stage play in Nigeria, one that is largely dependent on sponsorship and support from private individuals and governments which come in bits, makes the need for institutionalised funding of the industry imperative.
Meanwhile, the stage production of his family-friendly play ‘Our Duke Has Gone Mad Again’, goes exclusive on December 25th and 26th, 2020, with the support of corporate bodies while Propetrol remains the major sponsor.
The reason the play, a beautifully written emotive anthology of Edgar’s works that touches on different issues in the society will go exclusive, is because “This particular play is bringing together potential investors, people we hope would key in this vision. The play is not for the mass market and so tickets will not be sold at the venue. The past play we did such as ‘Emotan’, the ticket was N5,000. But this one is targeted at the people that will help us get the N9billion that we will use to build a massive theatre that will employ more people,” he explained.
“So, from 2021 we will start building our own theatre, a N9billion project. It is going to have Nigerians as shareholders. This is going to bring in certain level of permanence in funding of productions, moving people away from reliance on cooperate funding in the industry”.
Billed to be staged at the serene The Finery, Probyn Road Ikoyi, Lagos, the play is directed by Segun Adefila, with William Benson as co-executive producer-technical, Dr Ibiene Ogolo, Mofoluwake Edgar, and Olisa Adibua as co-executive producers.
Featuring a cast of professional actors including Patrick Diabuah, kelvin Mary Ndukwe, Kemi Bickersteth, and the highly talented Chantal Edgar, the show will engage the audience by mirroring their life through the eyes of the Duke of Shomolu.
The tone of things, from the cast, audience and venue this is surely a different production that will bring together the ‘who is who’ in society and its success may determine the future of theatre productions in Nigeria.
Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Propetrol, Harry Ebohon disclosed that his company was interested in sponsorship of the Duke of Shomolu productions because it is in agreement with creativity and innovation which are ideals it stands for.
“When you look at Edgar’s achievements, it’s amazing especially knowing that before he came into theatre production, there were so many established individuals and companies, yet, he has done incredibly well with the quality of his plays”. He however frowned at the fact that this generation has been brought up as a generation that depends on government to create jobs noting that his sole aim of being involved in the theatre was to help turn it into a platform for wealth creation.