By Chukwuma Ajakah
As part of the activities marking their second semester practical training sessions tagged “Festival of Theatre”, students of Theatre Arts and Music Department, Lagos State University, Ojo organised a 15-day fiesta on performing arts courses such as drama, music and dance.
The seminar held at the Theatre Arts Auditorium of the university from Friday, June 10 to Wednesday, June 29, 2022 with notable resource persons such as veteran theatre practitioners, Professors Sola Fosudo and Tunji Azeez, superintending the productions.
The HoD, Department of Theatre Arts and Music, Dr. Isaac Yekini-Ajenifuja, as well as other members of the faculty, including Drs. Emoruwa, Felix, Joke Muyiwa, Femi Olugboji, Yeside Dosunmu-Lawal, Ayodele Komolafe, and Babafemi Babatope, were also on ground to watch the aspiring thespians, drummers, makeup artists, technicians and other categories of performers sparkle on stage as they showcase their skills.
Festival of Theatre featured miniature projects from the sophomore class and major productions by students of 300 and 400 levels, majoring in specific areas-Play Directing, Script Writing, Acting, Voice and Speech, Dance and Choreography, Film and Media Arts, Children Theatre, Theatre Design and Technology, Set Lights and Props, Management and Marketing, where they had to prove their mettle prior to graduation
Contemporary plays like Roger Allers and Allen Mecchi’s The Lion King, directed by Babatunde Lawal, Ola Rotimi’s Holding Talks, directed by Osomo Tomiwa, Sunnie Ododo’s Hard Choice, directed by Osundu Favour, Wartemberg’s Corpse’s Comedy, directed by Adedeji Silas and House of Prayer-a stage play written for Daystar’s Reflections, directed by Adedokun Adebola Michael premiered at the event.
Every aspect of the command performance of the stage plays was entirely handled by the students who demonstrated uncanny abilities in diverse aspects of theatre and music production, revealing their eagerness to take the centre stage in their chosen fields of endeavour. For instance, the audience was treated to a variety of thrilling dance performances in “Festival of Dances” which featured storytelling-dance-dramas like The Royal Ornate, choreographed by Asorose Mark Deyon,
Other student choreographers like Promise Chisom who handled the famous Ohafia Dance, Akinwunmi Temitope (Muohongoyo Danc), Danjuma Tosin (Zulu Dance), Williams Anthonia (Omukobo Traditional War Dance), Sohe Anu (Saidi Dance), Sholaja Olufisayo (Musuo: A Drum Ensemble), Kukubor Comfort (Ngalanga Machaka Dance, Adeomoye Comfort (Gadzo Dance) and Afolayan Samuel- Lead Drummer in Njembe Drum Ensemble showed expertise in interpreting the messages embedded in the works they choreographed.
Speaking on the career prospects open to students of Theatre Arts, renowned academic, Prof. Tunji Azeez, cited the instance of a 300 level student, Badamassi E-Pelumi’s Radio Drama presentation titled, Inertia to admonish those who major in writing of the need for focus, saying: “You can make a comfortable living as a writer. But, you must concentrate and not go here and there, trying to be everything.”
Veteran Nollywood actor, theatre educator and producer, Prof. Sola Fosudo reminded the participants of the need to perfect their acts as they hone their skills, saying: “There are small things you do in drama to bring out the interpretation. You cannot present anything spectacular if you did no homework. There is no such thing as major and minor roles in theatre arts, but small acts which good actors brilliantly interpret to become award winners.”
Another faculty member, Kotin Hungbo explained that the intense practical productions were aimed at making the students employable in the labour market as they are exposed to opportunities in various areas of specialization. “Many of the students, especially those in technical are already earning from the skills they have acquired as they are hired for events as set designers, costumiers and voice over artists,” he revealed. Hungbo admitted that the training process is so rigorous that only a few scale through the crucible, saying: “It’s really very engaging. We did written exams with other departments and are now on practical exams which hold every day, including Saturdays. Some of the students could not go home. They slept on campus for their rehearsals.”
On career prospects in the field, he remarked that “There are several areas you can major in Theatre Arts. For instance, Wole Soyinka is in Theatre Arts, but he majors in writing. You can even graduate here as a drummer.” Corroborating Hungbo’s position about the challenges, the Artistic Director, The Lion King, Babatunde Lawal, said: “The journey to putting this piece together has been a most tasking and engaging one for me and the production team. This is perhaps, the most difficult play I’ve directed so far. The Lion King is not just a play. It is a call for everyone to take their place in the circle of life. Everyone must do what they ought to do as our actions and inactions have causal effects on our realities.”
On her part, Sholaja Olufisayo who choreographed Musuo (Drumbeat), said: “These few weeks have been a really hectic one for me and my team. Pulling off a production as technical as this, took a lot of time, energy, research and commitment. This has been my toughest project so far.” However, Adedeji Silas, student Director of the Ghanaian play, Corpse’s Comedy, claimed to have enjoyed the experience of producing a comic play. “Being the first time I was directing a play, I didn’t expect what I saw. I didn’t experience much difficulty except for the Ghanaian setting and accent. From their responses, I believe the audience enjoyed the presentation.”