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Wole Oguntokun is a Nigerian playwright, stage and film director, as well as a theatre administrator and newspaper columnist.[1]

Contents

EducationEdit

Oguntokun holds a Bachelor of Laws from the Obafemi Awolowo University as well as a Master of Laws (LL.M) and Master's degree in Humanitarian and Refugee Studies, MHRS from the University of Lagos. He has been called to the Nigerian Bar.

TheatreEdit

Oguntokun is a 2018 Global Fellow of the New York-based International Society for the Performing Arts (ISPA), a Fellowship he was also awarded in 2015 & 2016. He is the Founder and Artistic Director of the Theatre Republic[2] a Lagos-based performing arts hub opened in September 2016 which provides production and rehearsal spaces for theatre and dance companies, musicians and visual artists as well as being the Artistic Director of Renegade Theatre, a major Nigerian performing arts company.

He wrote and directed the theatrical production of "The Chibok Girls: Our Story"[3] which premiered at the Muson Centre, Lagos, from 18 to 20 December 2015. The performances, partly supported by the Delegation of the European Union to the Federal Republic of Nigeria and to the Economic Community of West African States, featured three of the school girls who escaped after being abducted by the insurgent group, alongside professional actors including Meg Otanwa, Leelee Byoma and Kehinde Bankole. The production was thereafter invited to the 2017 edition of the Ubumuntu Arts Festival[4] in Kigali, Rwanda where it was performed on the 16th of July.

He emerged as a player on the Nigerian Theatre landscape between September and December 1998 with his productions of his satirical stage drama Who's Afraid of Wole Soyinka?, a lampoon of the Nigerian military in governance. The productions were put up at the Arts Theatre of the University of Lagos and at the Muson Centre, Lagos.

The Muson Centre thereafter hosted plays he wrote and directed including Who's Afraid of Wole Soyinka in May 2002; Rage of the Pentecost – August 2002; Ladugba! – September 2002; and The Other Side – November 2002.[5][6]

At the same venue in March 2003, he produced and directed his adaptation of "The Pied Piper of Hamelin" entitled Piper, Piper;[7] and his play on the dangers of HIV/AIDS, Gbanja Roulette, in May and July 2003.

In December 2003, he featured the matriarch of Nigerian drama, Taiwo Ajai-Lycett,[8] in his stage play The Inheritors. Other plays of his produced at the Muson Centre include Prison Chronicles in March 2004, The Other Side starring Kate Henshaw-Nuttall[9] in November 2005; The Sound and The Fury in April 2006; The Inheritors featuring Joke Silva in August 2006, and Anatomy of a Woman[10] featuring Stella Damasus-Aboderin in March 2007.[11]

Considered a stage activist[12] by some, he also produced and directed plays by other playwrights at the Muson Centre. They include The Trials of Brother Jero by Wole Soyinka on 2 and 3 July 2005) and Femi Osofisan's Once upon Four Robbers in December 2004.

In July 2007, Oguntokun initiated a collaboration with the Arts Centre known as Terra Kulture, on Victoria Island, Lagos, and commenced the "Theatre@Terra",[13] becoming its founding producer and artistic director and turning it into one of Nigeria's most consistent venues for Theatre, with plays being produced every Sunday at the venue.

Wole has produced and directed[14] plays by many of Nigeria's best-known playwrights including Soyinka's (Kongi's Harvest, Madmen & Specialists, The Lion and the Jewel, The Swamp Dwellers, Death and the King's Horseman, The Strong Breed, Childe Internationale, Camwood on the Leaves, The Jero Plays); Osofisan's Morountodun, Once Upon Four Robbers, The Engagement, The Inspector and the Hero; Professor Ola Rotimi's The Gods Are Not To Blame; Zulu Sofola's King Emene, Wedlock of the Gods, Wizard of Law, as well as Athol Fugard's Sizwe Banzi is Dead.

Oguntokun was official consultant to the British Council/Lagos and the crew of the National Theatre in London for the purpose of that National Theatre's production of Wole Soyinka's play Death and the King's Horseman[15] in April and May 2009.

He was the general secretary to the Lagos State arm of the Association of Nigerian Authors in 2003/2004 and has been described as one of 300[16] people, events, places and things that helped shape 2010 (in Nigeria).

The performances of his plays have also been supported by The British Council, The Society for Family Health (SFH), The Ministry of the Federal Capital Territory in Abuja, Pathfinder International, The Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, and the National Action Committee on AIDS (NACA) among many others. His play Gbanja Roulette[17] was presented at the Shehu Yar'Adua Musa Centre, Abuja, in October 2003 with the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency Olusegun Obasanjo as Guest of Honour and again at the Presidential Villa, Aso Rock, in January 2004. Gbanja Roulette and Audu's Way, both plays written by Oguntokun with HIV/AIDS as the subject matter, were performed to the Lagos State, Edo State and Anambra State Houses of Legislature in separate productions sponsored by the Society for Family Health (SFH).

Oguntokun was commissioned by the Kudirat Initiative for Democracy (KIND) to head the writing team that adapted Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues for the Nigerian populace. The end result was V Monologues-The Nigerian Story, a production that he directed in March 2008 in productions at the National Arts Theatre, Terra Kulture, The Muson Centre (all in Lagos) and also at The Women's Development Centre and The Shehu Musa Yar'Adua Centre in Abuja.

Oguntokun created[18] the annual "Season[19] of Soyinka"[20] now approaching its 9th Season, in which plays by the Nobel Laureate are presented, and "The Legend Series" in which evergreen plays by first- and second-generation Nigerian dramatists are featured. He is the author of the published poetry collection Local Boy and other poems.

Oguntokun directed A Season in the Congo by Aimé Césaire for the Lagos State Government / UNESCO-sponsored "Black Heritage Festival" in April 2010; his own play The Waiting Room[21] in the same festival[22] for the 2011 Black Heritage Festival, Marco Martinelli's Moor Harlequin's 22 Misfortunes for the 2012 edition of the festival and his play Oshodi Tapa for the 2013 edition. "Oshodi Tapa" [23] thereafter became the selected opening play to celebrate Lagos State at 50 years. In the 2015 edition, of the Black Heritage Festival, he was selected to present another of his plays, "The Tarzan Monologues".

Early in 2010, Oguntokun was commissioned to write and direct a play on the life and times of Bishop Samuel Ajai Crowther, the first Black African Bishop of the Anglican Church, entitled Ajai The Boy Slave[24] made up of cast members from Britain and Nigeria. The play was performed at the Muson Centre in Lagos on 19 and 21 December 2010.

He was one of five Nigerian theatre directors selected by the British Council to be part of aTheatre Director's Residency/Workshop in the United Kingdom in May 2011. In August 2011 and 2013, he was one of two Nigerians selected as a British Council delegates to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland. He selected a production, "The Animals and Children took to the Streets" by the British performing arts company, 1927, from the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2013 and the production was sponsored to Nigeria in November 2011.

Oguntokun was a facilitator[25] at the Theatre Directors Workshop[26] organised as part of the Garden City Literary Festival[27] Literary Festival[28] in collaboration with the British Council in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria in September 2011.

His play The Waiting Room was performed at the Festival of Nigerian Plays (FESTINA),[29] the annual celebration of stage plays by the National Association of Theatre Arts Practitioners (NANTAP) from Friday 28 October until Sunday 30 October 2011 and as the festival play for the annual Lagos Book and Arts Festival in November 2011.

He directed the Nigerian premiere of Ntozake Shange's multi-award-winning play For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf[30] on 29 and 30 December at the Shell Hall, Muson Centre in Lagos, and on 15 June 2014, at the Eko Convention Centre – Eko Hotel and Suites in collaboration with Flytime Entertainment.

Oguntokun's theatre company, Renegade Theatre,[31] was one of five African theatre companies and the only West African one, selected to be part of the Shakespeare Cultural Olympiad at the Globe Theatre (Globe to Globe Festival) in London in April–June 2012. 37 international touring theatre companies presented each of Shakespeare's 37 plays in a different language. Oguntokun directed The Winter's Tale in Yoruba on 24 and 25 May 2012 at the Globe Theatre. On 9 and 10 November 2013, he directed his adaptation of William Shakespeare's Macbeth at the Muson Centre, Lagos, setting it in the aftermath of the Nigerian Civil War.

Oguntokun produced and directed his play The Waiting Room at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe from 1–26 August 2013 making it the first Nigerian play to feature at the festival. The Venue was Assembly – George Square and the project was supported by the British Council.[32] In 2014, he returned to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe as director and producer of the only Nigerian company at the Festival (Renegade Theatre) with another production – The Tarzan Monologues. Venue – Underbelly, Cowgate, from 31 July until 24 August.

He has directed three Muson Festival Plays: The Gods Are Not To Blame (2006), An Ordinary Legacy (2012) and his own adaptation of Cyprian Ekwensi's Jagua Nana (2014)

He is the recipient of the National Association of Nigerian Theatre Practitioners' (NANTAP) Award for Excellence (November 2012) and an Arts Patron Award (November 2013)at the Association's annual conventions.

TelevisionEdit

Oguntokun independently produced and wrote the TV sit-coms, Crossworld Blues on DBN TV (1999) and Living Free on MBI television (2002). He also produced the television show on current affairs The Cutting Edge, which ran on MBI in 2002. He was a producer and Head Writer on Season II of the Pan-African talk-show Moments with Mo and produced briefly on Season IV.

DocumentaryEdit

Oguntokun wrote and produced a documentary on inner-city violence on young females, The Sounds Of Silence,[33] which was commissioned by the Ajegunle Community Project (ACP) (2009).

In March 2007 he commenced "The Girl Whisperer", a weekly column on gender relations in a major Nigerian newspaper, the Sunday Guardian. The column ran for seven years. He is a member of the Governing Council of the Committee for Relevant Art (CORA), a leading Arts and Culture Advocacy Group in Nigeria.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Nigerian playwright
  2. ^ Theatre https://guardian.ng/art/oguntokuns-theatre-republic-in-soyinka-style/
  3. ^ The Chibok Girls: Our http://www.pulse.ng/entertainment/movies/the-chibok-girls-our-story-kehinde-bankole-meg-otanwa-joshua-alabi-star-in-stage-drama-id4440497.html
  4. ^ Ubumuntu Arts http://www.ubumuntuartsfestival.com/Festivals/Ubumuntu-2017/2017-Performances/article/The-Chibok-Girls-Our-Story
  5. ^ Who's Afraid of Wole Soyinka
  6. ^ The Other Side.
  7. ^ Akeem Lasisi (3 February 2008). "Piper, Piper, other plays at Terra Kulture". The Punch.
  8. ^ Celebrating Taiwo Ajai–Lycett at 70
  9. ^ Kate Henshaw, Nigeria: Tom West Took Me to Life-Changing Audition, allAfrica.com.
  10. ^ Anatomy of a Woman.
  11. ^ "Account Suspended". punchontheweb.com. Retrieved 2017-12-22.
  12. ^ The Stage Activist | The News Nigeria
  13. ^ "Wole Oguntokun: Giving verve to the theatre culture", National Mirror.
  14. ^ "Nigeriancompass.com". www.nigeriancompass.com. Retrieved 2017-12-22.
  15. ^ Soyinka’s Horseman
  16. ^ "Loading..." www.thenetng.com. Retrieved 2017-12-22.
  17. ^ GBANJA ROULETTE: Drama in the fight against HIV/AIDS
  18. ^ "Punch Newspaper - Breaking News, Nigerian News & Multimedia". Punch Newspapers. Retrieved 2017-12-22.
  19. ^ Uduma Kalu (18 July 2009). "At Soyinka's birthday, sad song from new writers". Vanguard.
  20. ^ The Sun News Online | Arts
  21. ^ Facing up to mortality
  22. ^ "FELA! Opens 2011 Lagos Black Heritage Festival". pressexposure.com. Retrieved 2017-12-22.
  23. ^ Oshodi http://www.authorityngr.com/2016/06/Renegade-Theatre-heralds-Freedom-Park-stage-with-Oshodi-Tapa/
  24. ^ Play on Bishop SAMUEL AJAI CROWTHER debuts in Lagos « PHOTONEWS
  25. ^ africa radio network | Nigeria news
  26. ^ Nigeria: Theatre art practitioners urged to be consistent – AfricaNews articles of sgmine2
  27. ^ "Account Suspended". www.nigerianews24.com. Retrieved 2018-01-03.
  28. ^ Bumper offering at Garden City Festival | Rivers State News
  29. ^ National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners
  30. ^ "BN ♥s You! Happy Valentine's Day - BellaNaija". www.bellanaija.com. Retrieved 2017-12-22.
  31. ^ The Theatre Renegade, Articles | THISDAY LIVE
  32. ^ British Council
  33. ^ "Ajegunle Community Project (ACP)". ajegunlecommunityproject.org. Retrieved 2017-12-22.