Theatre RehearsalALL seems set for the second edition of the Lagos Theatre Festival. Organised by the British Council and reputed as the largest outdoor theatre festival to take place in the city of Lagos, the festival, which made its debut in 2013, will run from February 28 through March 2, 2014.  Part theatrical experience, part real life and part city journey, the festival, according to the promoters, would transform the historic Freedom Park, a public space resuscitated from the ruins of a colonial prison and reconstructed to preserve the history and cultural heritage of Nigeria. 

To light up the stage this year will be Look Left Look Right, a multiple award-winning interactive theatre company based in the U.K. The company will premiere their new production, Make We Wakka, a collaboration with Nigerian performers that invites the audience to partake in an intimate promenade performance, exploring the hidden corners of the space. Using an audio guide, participants will delve into the world of the Park and the stories it has to tell.

In addition, three other new productions will be staged, the result of an open call launched in September 2013 to invite people across Nigeria to submit their stories about Lagos, the most populous city in Africa. Three stories were selected and have been turned into scripts by writer/filmmaker, Jude Idada (who won an AMAA Award for Best Screenplay in 2010), playwright and essayist, Lekan Balogun, and internationally acclaimed Nigerian writer and director, Wole Oguntokun. The new works will examine themes including Lagos nightlife, the national lottery and the healthcare system and will also take place at Freedom Park.

Also, the British Council says it has teamed these writers with Lagos-based theatre groups, Renegade Theatre, Imagine Nigeria and Oxzygen Koncepts, to work on the festival, which is being managed by a team of theatre producers including Kenneth Uphopho, Daniel Effiong, Brenda Uphopho, Ifeanyi Dibia and Bukky Sanu.

Director, British Council, Nigeria, Connie Price, said, “It is tremendously exciting for the British Council to be working again on Lagos Theatre Festival. Our hope is that the new collaborations taking place will captivate audiences and stimulate future work as the British Council builds towards 2015, a year that will see a major season of cultural and educational programmes take place across Nigeria.”

As part of the build-up to this edition of the festival, the organisers hinted that the Creative Director of the festival, Kenneth Uphopho, would visited the UK to attend the British Council Showcase at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2014 to select a UK company to collaborate with. The British Council’s biennial Edinburgh Showcase is the single biggest opportunity for UK theatre companies to introduce their works to international promoters. The programme comprises new works that represent the very best of contemporary theatre and dance, reflecting the breadth and diversity of British performing arts.

It will be recalled that the first edition of Lagos Theatre Festival took place in February 2013 at Eko Hotel & Suites. It brought together thousands of theatre loving people who witnessed plays performed in an underground car park, a garden, a restaurant and a hotel bedroom. Work showcased included productions by three local theatre companies as well as British-Nigerian playwright, poet and actor Inua Ellams, who performed his award-winning play The 14th Tale.

If the quality performance that the acts put up last year is to be considered then theatre-goers are in for a fantastic time this year. They will find the performance of Look Left Look Right fascinating. The company is an award-winning site-specific theatre company making vivid, dynamic, and interactive theatre inspired by and about the contemporary world. Since being founded in 2005 by Artistic Director, Mimi Poskitt, the company has received funding from Arts Council of Britain, successfully toured their work nationally and won three Fringe First Awards (The Caravan 2008 and You Once Said Yes, 2011, 2013) and a Total Theatre Award for Innovation and Experimentation (You Once Said Yes, 2011).

The company has co-produced with The Royal Court, The Roundhouse, West Yorkshire Playhouse, The BAC, Plymouth Theatre Royal and Southampton Nuffield. Their objective is to create intimate, poignant, truthful and relevant storytelling that gives the audience a whole new theatre experience.

© Shaibu Husseini

Culled from: Vanguard News