About Olamide Olanrewaju’s ‘Moremi’ : Talent, Passion & Feminism
You’ve got to admit though; there’s just something about art in its pure, organic form that makes you feel good. Really good! For the first time in my life, I saw a theatrical performance at Nigeria’s premier university and I loved it!
And because I thought my silence about this play would mean total injustice to humanity (and to Kayode who was kind enough to have invited me), I decided to bring the gist to you. Though my account can’t compare with seeing the actual play, it should help you paint a clear enough picture as to why you have to go see a play ASAP! Meanwhile, I just registered an organisation: Association of Nigerian Theater Enthusiasts and guess what? Membership forms are now available for free.
Anyhoo, I will be sharing my experience using bullet points. Chill. I won’t just dump bullet points and take off; you’ll get to read a summary beneath each highlighted point. Now that we understand each other, let’s start by talking about how:
- Amazing University of Ibadan Theater Arts Students are:
There’s such raw, extraordinary talent in the Theater Arts Department. I’m guessing this brilliance is also inherent in students studying Performing/Creative/Theater Arts in other reputable tertiary institutions of learning in Nigeria. I particularly like how organized they were; tickets were being sold amidst smiles and warm welcomes, a crowd waiting to see the performance had gathered minutes before the start time and were ushered in just in time for the play to start. We gathered to see Moremi at the Arts Theater and in no time, most (if not all) seats had been occupied.
- The dialogues, though lengthy, were engaging:
I don’t know how these actors do it but they are freaking geniuses. Some scenes had dialogues among characters last for as long as 10–15 minutes and these actors rarely mistook their lines. Their dialogues were interspersed with wise sayings, proverbs and all round great talk. You could easily pick up one or two words of inspiration from their dialogues. There was no dull moment.
- The writer is officially a Shade King:
So, the play, ‘Moremi’ which basically beamed the spotlight on the Legend of Moremi Ajasoro (read more about her here) was written by Olamide Olanrewaju; a 200 level student of the Theater Arts department, University of Ibadan. Impressive much. However, more impressive was the writer’s infusion of comic relief. I mean, who doesn’t love a shade with epic delivery? Oh.. and it wasn’t just a line or two. There were dialogues in scenes with lines upon lines of powerfully constructed shade.
For instance, the ‘Iyalode’ and ‘Balogun’ characters had this dynamic arrangement that had them in a fixed mood of savoury pettiness more than half of their entire stage time. Those two characters gave the show life. Then, there was the scene where the Moremi character and her cohorts formed a unified front against their captors. Before the beatdown that was to follow, they did a very good job of reducing their captors to bits with insults that got the audience ooh-ing and aah-ing.
At some point, I felt sorry for the characters on the receiving end of those shades. LOL!
- There was also music & dance
Yup! And it was exhilarating!
It was nice to see these performers sing and dance their hearts out on stage as they reenacted popular Yoruba cultural songs and dance steps. The acoustics and lightning at the art theater was great. The sounds were mildly reverberating and energetic. When they danced, their movements rhymed. It was smooth, easy and beautiful. The music communicated the tone of the play to a reasonable extent. It was happy music when all was rosy and sad music when all was… well, sad.
- It was organic!
You could tell that those actors LOVED to act; to tell stories the way stories should be told. They were in formation; performing like their lives depended on it. If you looked closely enough, you could see the sincerity in their eyes, the passion that drives them to do what it is they love to do. It didn’t matter that they were a few inches away from an audience filled with family, friends, acquaintances, colleagues, or Abdullahi. They were vessels for those characters and even if most of their dialogues were set in English, you could picture each event as portrayed in the play, in actual reality — the reality of Moremi Ajasoro in Ile — Ife.
- Feminism isn’t just another Western concept. Ask Moremi:
I think as Africans, a lot more can be done to preserve our cultural heritage; our history. A lot more can be learnt from our legends and our past to help us create the future we so desperately want. I believe there are so many lessons to be learnt from our past and upon better observation, we would come to realize how generations before us struggled to, and succeeded at devising certain means to develop and maintain a society of peace, unity and tolerance.
Maybe our generation could learn a thing or two about the importance of sacrifice, compromise, patience, perseverance and other critical life values that could birth societies with individuals, families, groups and organisations that will stop at nothing to ensure the principles of equality, equity and fairness are upheld.
The Legend of Moremi aptly mirrors the struggle of the everyday woman; her strive to secure a seat at the table not because she fights for it, but because she deserves it just like her male counterparts. The Legend of Moremi is synonymous with bravery, compassion, strength, sacrifice, love, the fight for equality amongst other remarkable life values.
While other world societies boast of their own philosophers and teachers i.e Aristotle, Socrates, we should take pride in our own legends as well. Let’s study the life and times of these heroes and see how their values can help us and our society.
So, would I be seeing another play soon? You betcha! You should too.
Olanrewaju Olamide’s ‘Moremi’ was staged as part of a week-long programme of creatively structured activities to celebrate the department’s 42nd season of Initiation.
About the writer:
Abdullahi Fawale dreams of visiting the city of New York. He periodically imagines what it’d feel like to stand in Times Square at night & observe the beautiful electronic billboards display adverts in high definition.
He also wants to smell American coffee (if that’s a thing).
Abdullahi saw ‘Moremi’ on Monday, 10th April, 2017 and isn’t over it yet.