Lagos Fringe to honour Oduneye, Ajai-Lycett, Kelani at Opening Launch on Tuesday
The Lagos Fringe International Festival takes off on Tuesday, November 19 and will run through the 24th at various venues across the city of Lagos. The 6-day festival, organised in partnership with Multichoice Nigeria, British Council Nigeria, Freedom Park and the Alliance Francaise, will bring together participants from Senegal, UK, South Africa, Canada, Brazil, Ghana, Portugal and Nigeria.
The opening launch on Tuesday at Alliance Francaise, Mike Adenuga Centre Victoria Island is designed as a high-net-worth event to be graced by eminent guests including, leaders in business, diplomatic and social circuits.
A highpoint of the event would be the conferment of meritorious service award on three notable personalities who, in the words of the Festival’s artistic director, Kenneth Uphopho, have contributed immensely to the development of the theatre profession as well as the shaping of the creative industry of Nigeria.
The three honoured artistes are:
Adebayo Adisa Oduneye, one of the most significant theatre directors in Nigeria and Africa, he trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA) in England and at the Carnegie Melon University, Pittsburgh, USA. For decades, he taught directing at the Department of Theatre Arts, University of Ibadan, and later at the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye, Abeokuta, where he took up adjunct professor seat after his retirement from the University of Ibadan. ‘Uncle B,’ as he is fondly called by his numerous students and mentees, has held several distinguished positions, including as artistic director, festival drama manager (FESTAC 77), chairman of the Nigerian Film Corporation, and lately as Artistic Director of the National Troupe of Nigeria between 1991 and 2000. He is reputed to have directed nearly all the classic theatrical plays coming out of Africa in the 70s through the 2000s. He founded Diamond Productions through which he directed many memorable productions, including Wole Soyinka’s classic, Death and the King’s Horseman, which he did for the Nigeria Industrial Bank, (NIB) drama series. He disbanded the company upon his appointment as Artistic Director of National Troupe of Nigeria. After his tour of duty, he founded Lagemo Players with his friend Ambassador Olu Otunla. In a study of Oduneye’s directorial style, Abiodun Macaulay of Department of Performing and Film Arts Elizade University, Ondo State, wrote: He is an expert with the total theatre concept; and has also been successful with contemporary plays around the globe. His directing project plays were J.P Clark’s Song of a goat at Carnege-Mellon University in 1971 and Masquerade at Pittsburgh in 1972. His first play as a director in Nigeria was Hassan by Elroy Flecker (1992). Others include, Wale Ogunyemi’s Langbodo, Ijaiye War (1974) and Divorce (1981), Wole Soyinka’s Child Internationale and The Trials of Brother Jero (1973), Ola Rotimi’s Our Husband has Gone Mad Again (1980/’81), C.B Akinyemi’s Skeletons (1982), an adaptation of Donald Jack’s Exit Muttering, The Visit of Bishop Alaba (1985/87), Hadrian the 7th by Peter Luke (1987), A Theme for Linda by Ron Milner (1971), Foursome by Eugene Ionesco (1970/’73), Orison by Fernando Arabel (1974), The Mansion by Rasheed Gbadamosi (1979), The Greener Grass by Rasheed Gbadamosi (1979), Purse by Alen Mezegede (1980), Death and the King’s Horseman by Wole Soyinka (1987), Antigone by Jean Anomln (1988), Trials of Ovonramwen by Ahmed Yerima (1997), Kaffir’s Last Game by Ahmed Yerima (1998), and many more.
Taiwo Ajai-Lycett, easily referred to as the “Dame of the Nigerian Stage and Screen”, Anty TAL has been a recurring decimal on the story of the Nigeria and African Theatre profession. She trained as a journalist in the United Kingdom and rose to become editor of Africa Woman, a political, economic and social magazine for black and African men and women in the Diaspora. A chance encounter with a theatre producer made her become an actress, thus launching a career that has seen strut the stage and screen at home and broad for almost six decades now. She made her acting debut in December 1966, in Wole Soyinka’s The Lion and the Jewel, a two-act comedy directed by William Gaskill at the Royal Court Theatre in London. Subsequently, she enrolled at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. In 1972, she left her corporate career and joined the Traverse Theatre Group for the Edinburgh Festival. She was later in a string of television and stage shows. In 1973, she was in Amadu Maddy’s play ‘Life Everlasting’ at the Africa Centre, London, and later in the year, she was in Peter Nichols’ ‘The National Health’ during the Festival of British Theatre. In 1976, she played the lead role in Yemi Ajibade’s Parcel Post at the Royal Court Theatre. While in England, she also featuredin Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em, the popular British sitcom alongside the popular comedian, Julius spencer. Her acting career flowered at the prestigious Royal Court Theatre, Sloane’s Square, London, and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). (1969-76). During this stage of her professional life, she combined acting on the UK stage, television and films with print and electronic journalism. She later attended the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London, City Literary Institute, (City Lit.) and the Dance Centre, Floral Street, Covent Garden, London, studying Acting, Music, Voice, Singing, Ballet, Modern and Contemporary Dance. She has performed in many leading theatres in the UK, such as the Traverse Theatre at the Edinburgh International Festival; the Gaiety Theatre, at the Dublin International Theatre Festival; and The Bristol Old Vic. She was conferred with an Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON) in 2006 by President Olusegun Obasanjo, on occasion of Nigeria’s 47th Independence Day Anniversary. She is also a Fellow (SONTA) a Fellow of the Society of Nigerian Theatre Artists. For her meritorious service to the cause of Creative Arts, Education, Business and Community Development, Taiwo has received several other Awards.
Tunde Kelani –Ace cinematographer, filmmaker and culture advocate, he is largely regarded as the standard for the Nigerian Film Culture. Founder of the famous Mainframe Productions (aka Opomulero), Kelani’s works, mostly on Yoruba language, have for decades manifest as the face of Nigerian cinema in the global film circuit. Having been introduced to Yoruba literature from an early stage in his life, Tunde Kelani was greatly influenced by the travelling theatre tradition championed by the likes of late Hubert Ogunde, Kola Ogunmola and Duro Ladipo among others. He got interested in photography from primary school. In the 1970s, he worked as a BBC TV and Reuters correspondent, and in the then Western Nigerian Television Services. He later worked as a cameraman/producer at the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), from where he left to study Cinematography and Film Production at the London Film School. Once he finished from the London Film School, he returned to Nigeria and co-produced his first film with Adebayo Faleti – The Dilemma of Rev. Father Michael (Idaamu Paadi Minkailu). His other cinematic works, most of which are adaptations of existing literary works, include Ti Oluwa Ni ile, Ayo ni Mofe, Koseegbe, Oleku, Saworoide, Agogo Ewo, The White Handkerchief, The Narrow Path, Arugba, Thunderbolt, Maami, Campus Queen, Dazzling Mirage and lately Sidi Ilujinle. In 1991, Kelani started his own production company, Mainframe Films and Television Productions – Opomulero, so he could “produce films and not just lend technical support”, in his words. Mainframe is renowned for its promotion and preservation of Yoruba culture and heritage. Two years ago, Kelani decided to formalise a vital feature of his illustrious career – educating, and helping to build the capacity of the youth, and thus giving back to the vocation that has given him so much. He established the Mainframe Film and Media Institute, MFMI located in his native Abeokuta city in Ogun State. Earlier in 2017, he was appointed as the chairman of the National Film and Video Censors Board but resigned months later due to irreconcilable difference with the way some members of the board perceived their role.
The Lagos Fringe festival director, Kenneth Uphopho said the honour is being conferred on the three on the recommendations of the Lagos Fringe advisory board, in recognition of the fact that these three are “some of the very few ‘true icons’ of the Nigerian theatre, who have in particular been ‘mentors’ of several generations of Nigerian Theatre Artistes”. The objective, he says, is to set them up as models for the younger generation of theatre artistes, to encourage them to keep striving to prove their mettles in the difficult terrain of theatrical productions in the country and, in the continent.