The Executive Secretary, National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Dr. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma, has counselled upcoming and aspiring writers, to read the works of established writers, to enable them grow their writing career, and that budding playwrights should subject their plays to reading and staging, for constructive criticisms, which will bring out the dramatic elements of such works.
Stating this during the October edition of the Play Reading Party, organized by Arojah Royal Theatre at the Korean Cultural Centre, Central Area, Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, which featured ‘Call for me my Osheni,’ an unpublished play by former Chairman of Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), FCT Chapter, Dr. Seyi Adigun, Ayakoroma said that was one of the best ways new writers can develop their skills.
He said: “I have always told budding writers that the best way to write is to read the works of others. It is not necessarily to copy them, but to learn the techniques of the genre of the writing you are into. As for the play we have read today, I have not really gone through it, but I listened to the reading. The point is that it is the duty of the director to actualize it on stage. The playwright has put his words on paper. The playwright of ‘Call for me my Osheni,’ has poetry background. Though drama could be poetic, but the most important thing about drama is the action. That is why it is important that we are doing this reading. It is better for a playwright to engage in this exercise before staging such plays. The quality of the play comes out better after undergoing these. The stageability of the play could be established.”
Former National President of ANA, Dr. Wale Okediran, who corroborated Ayakoroma’s view, said it is a good idea to read and stage plays before publication, and that in addition to reading the works of established writers, budding writers should give their works to experienced writers, to read and make necessary comments before publication.
In his contribution, Jide Attah described ‘Call for me my Osheni,’ as a dramatic cantata, asserting that the playwright had tried his best but that the moment a playwright finishes writing, the play becomes a public property, though the playwright has the copyright. “The playwright has given to the public a story. Even if it is seen as an elitist play, the truth remains that the issues raised in the play are societal ones. The elites suffer the disease mentioned in the play, just like the poor ones. For me, it is a romantic tragedy that reminds me of Henrik Ibsen. It is really a tragedy of our situation to confuse us. That is the sweetness of the play. The play has the imagery of the poor,” he said.
The playwright, Dr. Adigun, in his reaction, narrated how he was motivated to write the play from a true life story of a patient, during his internship. “The play came out of my feeling towards my first patient, who had tuberculosis, the way he died and the shock I had from his death. I started writing it like a poem, using three characters in dialogue. Later, I gave it to somebody, who said I have written a play and I added the stage directions. That is why it looks more like poetry,” he stated.
The director of Arojah Royal Theatre, Jerry Adesewo, who announced that the play would go on stage, directed by Jide Attah, said the essence of the play reading party was to keep live theatre going in Nigeria, through numerous theatrical activities.
“Theatre must go on. We have read many plays. We will continue to read plays. This play, ‘Call for me my Osheni,’ will soon be staged. Jide Attah will direct it and I will assist him. The next play we will read is Chris Iyimoga’s Son of a Chief, just as we will stage Zulu Sofola’s Wizard of Law, to honour Hon. Justice Muktair Alooma, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, on Wednesday, 26th October, 2012, at the Women Development Centre, Abuja. We will also perform Onukaba Adinonyi-Ojo’s ‘Somalia,’ our entry in the forthcoming Festival of Nigerian Plays (FESTINA 2012),” Adesewo said.