Audience Reactions to the Premiere Performance of “54 Silhouettes” in Jos

Ishaya Nathaniel said,
“Never a fan of theatre performance, but I think I am one now. So interesting. The best so far.”

Charminboi Nimyel said,
“Totally exhilarating, exciting and innovative. Love the piece and writing… better days ahead!!!”

Carmen McCain said,
“Really great dialogue, important response to the Hollywood ‘Africa image’.

Mohammed Ado Ibrahim said,
“Had a wonderful time watching you guys perform, fantastic!”

Meagan Mark said,
“Great!”

Ruth McDowell said,
“Great play.”

Joy Egiri said,
Wonderful. Nice. But you can do better.

Gabriel Ishaya said,
“Nice presentation, keep it up.”

Hope Bulus said,
“Keep it up. Had a wonderful time.”

Buwah Uram Lilian said,
“Some lyrical sh*t, if it were music, but… whew! It was awesome. I really enjoyed it. Rich talent… I wish you guys the best.”

Terna Tarkehe said,
“Men, you people are magically wonderful. Please keep it up.”

Chyke said,
“Nice enactment. Keep it rocking.”

Imoh Emeka said,
“Really happy and appreciate your effort in bringing out these from yourselves. Asking God for his protection and guidance throughout this project.”

Patience Godwin said,
“It was excellent.”

Efe Ejeba said,
“Great play…Please do it again.”

Jonathan Nimpar said,
“Great acting. I’m impressed with the acting.”

Adam Zainab Yakubu said,
“This is a remarkable display of true patriotism and artistry. I hope to catch you next on this. Came all the way from Bauchi.”

David Yohanna said,
“I’ll definitely love to be informed about subsequent productions, thank you. More support should be given to this event.”

Listen to the radio version of 54 Silhouettes here or here.

20131128-120458.jpg

This December in ABUJA! Double award winning play 54 Silhouettes written and directed by Africa Ukoh, LIVE ON STAGE!

Venue: French Institut, Wuse 2, Abuja (Beside Mr. Biggs)
Date: 5th & 6th December
Time: 6pm (pre-show entertainment), 7pm (main show)
Tickets: N2000

Costumes and accessories by ONTOP Apparel, a leader in top quality fashion. Photography by Victor Audu from VIA Concepts.

20131128-120624.jpg

Related stories:
African Renaissance Theatre & Entertainment announces Abuja performance of 54 Silhouettes.
Put your creativity to the test with A.R.T’s Creative Interpretation Challenge.
Meet the actors from 54 Silhouettes.
Meet the characters from 54 Silhouettes.
Check out the new ensemble photo for our Abuja performance of 54 Silhouettes.

Advertisements

New Ensemble Photo for Abuja Performance of “54 Silhouettes”

Don’t you just love photography? We’ve got a brand new ensemble promo photo ahead of our performance of 54 Silhouettes in Abuja. Check it out and let us know what you think.

20131128-102545.jpg

Photography by Victor Audu from VIA Concepts. Costumes and accessories by ONTOP Apparel, (Jos Plateau state), a leader in top quality fashion.

Meet the Characters from Our Upcoming Performance of “54 Silhouettes”

54 Silhouettes plays host (see what we did there?) to a multi-cultural array of characters. Photographer Victor Audu captures this with some eye catching photography. Ladies and gentlemen, meet the characters:

20131127-202653.jpg

20131127-202703.jpg

20131127-202752.jpg

20131127-203011.jpg

20131127-203030.jpg

Costumes and accessories by ONTOP Apparel, a leader in top quality fashion. Photography by Victor Audu from VIA Concepts.

This December in ABUJA! Double award winning play 54 Silhouettes LIVE ON STAGE!

Venue: French Institut, Wuse 2, Abuja (Beside Mr. Biggs)
Date: 5th & 6th December
Time: 6pm (pre-show entertainment), 7pm (main show)
Tickets: N2000

1st runner up, BBC African Performance competition, 2011.
Winner, Stratford East/30 Nigeria House award.

Related stories:
A.R.T announces Abuja performance of 54 Silhouettes.
put your creativity to the test with A.R.T’s Creative Interpretation Challenge.
Meet the actors from our upcoming performance of 54 Silhouettes.

Double Award Winning Play Hits Abuja: Meet the Actors

Coming to Abuja this December is a thrilling stage performance of double award winning play 54 Silhouettes written & directed by Africa Ukoh. The play won the 2011 BBC African Performance 1st runner up prize and was one of 30 creative works selected for the 2012 Stratford East/30 Nigeria House prize.

Now, in 2013, after a premiere performance in Jos, Plateau state, which received very positive reviews, African Renaissance Theatre & Entertainment is set to enthrall audiences in Abuja with a performance of 54 Silhouettes.

And who will be the creative talents lighting up the stage? Well, meet the actors:

20131126-152414.jpg

20131126-152525.jpg

20131126-152501.jpg

20131126-152645.jpg

20131126-155500.jpg

Venue: French Institut, Abuja, Wuse 2 (Beside Mr. Biggs)
Date: 5th & 6th December
Time: 6pm (pre-show entertainment), 7pm (main show)
Tickets: N2000

Costumes and accessories by ONTOP Apparels, a leader in top quality fashion.
Photography by Victor Audu from VIA Concepts.

Related stories:
A.R.T announces performance of double award winning play 54 Silhouettes in Abuja.
How creative are you? Put your imagination to the test with A.R.T’s Creative Interpretation Challenge.
Meet the characters from 54 Silhouettes.
Photos from rehearsals of 54 Silhouettes.

Premiere stage performance of Africa Ukoh’s play “54 Silhouettes” skewers Hollywood

“I’m not really in the mood to do any raping today.” One of the best one-liners I’ve heard ends Africa Ukoh’s brilliant play 54 Silhouettes, a satire about Hollywood’s imagination of Africa. The Stratford East/30 Nigeria House prize-winning play was originally produced for radio by BBC after coming first runner up in BBC’s 2011 African Performance competition. The first stage performance by the African Renaissance Theatre, directed by the playwright Africa Ukoh, premiered on 16 November at the Jos Alliance Francaise.

The story revolves around a Nigerian actor Victor Chimezie (Promise Ebichi), who is trying to break into Hollywood. When his Nigerian agent Sonny Chuks (Williams Obasi) gets him a role as a lieutenant named “Tiger” in a film set in Africa, Sonny thinks he has made Chimezie’s career. Chimezie and the scriptwriter/director Larry Singer (Idris Sagir) hit it off in the beginning, as both turn out to be Wole Soyinka fans: Larry once directed Death and the King’s Horseman and Chimezie once acted the king’s horseman Elesin. In Soyinka’s play, a patronizing colonial district officer Pilkings denounces as savage the tradition of ritual suicide by the oba’s companion after an oba’s death, but in “saving” Elesin he contributes to the death of Elesin’s son Olunde, who takes his father’s place. Chimezie and Larry recite dialogue from the scene where Elesin tells Pilkings, “You have shattered the peace of the world forever. There is no sleep in the world tonight.”

This symbolic tribute to Soyinka’s play resonates throughout 54 Silhouettes: Chimezie, like Elesin, faces great temptation to betray his people for a good life, and the well-meaning Larry, like Pilkings, is so blinded by his prejudices that he undermines (through his writing) the cultures he tries to represent. For a man who directed Soyinka’s Death and the King’s Horseman, Larry knows very little about Nigeria. In fact, he’s a hack. His film script is about an American journalist pursuing a ghost story in a “war-torn” Nigeria, somewhere in the Niger Delta. Larry manages to, as Chimezie points out, include “voodoo priests, a wrestling match with a lion, cannibalism, and half-naked dancing women” all in one film. The section we get to see performed features a warlord with a non-Nigerian name, played by an actor with a butchered “African” accent, who orders a child soldier kill a saintly Irish priest with lines like this: “You are an African. There is beastliness in your blood, and I shall unleash it.” Or “This is Africa. We are already in Hell.”

Chimezie grows more and more disturbed by the part he is being asked to perform and gradually makes enemies of most of his Hollywood contacts. Although Larry is smitten with Chimezie and seems to be open to suggestions, the swaggering cigarette-smoking “big-shot” producer Howard Flynn (played by the playwright and director himself Africa Ukoh) is irritated by Chimezie’s challenges to the script, telling him he knows “Africa is a big country.” He is also irritated that Chimezie does not seem “jubilant” enough at the news that Denzel Washington will star in the film. Flynn seasons his speech with racist slurs, calling Chimezie “Boy” and “Chimpanzee” and asking him if “you require jungle drums in order to express yourself.”

Sparks also fly between Chimezie and Kayode Adetoba (brilliantly played by Charles Etubiebi), the Brighton-born British-Nigerian actor whom everyone calls Tobi. He speaks with a South London accent, mispronounces Chimezie’s name just as Larry and Flynn do, and when he plays a warlord speaks with what internet critics call a “generic African accent.” When Chimezie protests, “That name is not from anywhere in Nigeria” and “That is not a Nigerian accent,” Flynn forces him to speak with the generic African accent too. When Tobi performs the hammy role in Larry’s script, asking Chimezie’s character what he is “insinuating,” Flynn asks “isn’t that too fluent?” Despite Flynn’s racist treatment—at one point saying “Down, Tobi” as if he were a dog—Tobi sides with the producer over his fellow actor from Nigeria. Tobi becomes increasingly incensed at Chimezie’s insistence on responsibility to “his people”—what Tobi calls “romantic idealism.” He tells Chimezie, “I was born in Brighton, I live in London. The closest I’ve ever been to Africa is in a plane flying over it.”

The tension also grows between Chimezie and his agent and friend Sonny Chuks, who has cashed in on a favour Flynn owes him to get Chimezie the role. When the two Nigerians get particularly passionate in their argument, they break into Igbo. Chimezie recites a proverb about the tortoise, “They say he is strong and wise, but when he sits for too long, he is seen as a stone. Who is to blame?” “I have a proverb for you,” Sonny counters, “Money, Make money.”

54 Silhouettes brilliantly skewers Hollywood representations of Africa in movies like Tears of the Sun or Sahara and even slyly weighs in on the casting of non-Nigerian “Hollywood” stars and British-born Nigerians who can’t get the accent right in films set in Nigeria, as in the recent film Half of a Yellow Sun. Complementing the ethical questions at the heart of the play are a multitude of biting one-liners. The satirical dialogue reveals the subtle and not so subtle bigotry of the characters: “I make movies to make money, not to promote foreign relations,” Howard Flynn says. “The budget alone could feed a third world country,” Larry quips. “The only reason I kept this bizarre excuse of a name is because the sheer oddity of it gets me attention and makes me stand out,” Tobi seethes.

Of course, what looms over the play but is never spoken is the word “Nollywood,” and the absence of Nollywood here is perhaps the major hole in the play. While the first act pops with biting humour, in the second act, Chimezie enumerates in long monologues the invisibility of the African voice and his ethical problems with performing in the film. Here the play begins to drag a bit and seems repetitious—a flaw that could perhaps have been solved by looking to the new possibilities open to actors in Africa. The choice is not between suffering in anonymity, as Sonny puts it, or acting in a compromising Hollywood film. In a BBC interview with Ethiopian-American filmmaker Nnegest Likké about Africans in Hollywood, she emphasized the need to build an alternative African tradition, as if this was something that should be built within Hollywood. But while there is certainly a need to improve the chances of Africans and African-Americans in Hollywood, there is also a thriving alternate film tradition on the ground in Africa, from Accra to Lagos to Nairobi, which could be enriched by the passions and skills of actors like Chimezie.

Despite the perhaps false dichotomy presented here, the acting in the premiere stage performance of 54 Silhouettes was brilliant. I listened to the BBC radio performance online and, with a few exceptions, I thought that the character interpretation in the live performance was better, perhaps because the playwright Africa Ukoh was directing this production. The actor Idris Sagir who plays Larry Singer butchers his Hollywood character’s American (?) accent with a mixture of an American southern accent and some odd unplaceable accent full of “r’s.” But since so much of the politics of the play was about bad African accents by non-African performers, the (perhaps intentionally?) bad accent felt like poetic justice to me. The bad American accent like the caricatured Hollywood icons, and the over-the-top racism were all subversive gestures that mock and undermine Hollywood’s dominance, and the character of Chimezie becomes the ultimate deconstructor.

“I’m not really in the mood to do any raping today,” says Chimezie, effectively committing professional suicide. And in this moment, his resolve seems more like a satirical version of Elesin’s son Olunde in Death and the King’s Horseman, who killed himself so that tradition could live. What follows in my imagination is a “Part 2,” where Chimezie resurrects in Nollywood, moving beyond anxieties about Hollywood to tell stories his own way.

The play will be performed at the French Institut in Wuse 2, Abuja on December 5-6, and will be back in Jos on 7 December at a venue yet to be confirmed. Go see it.

Published in the Weekly Trust by Carmen McCain under her column: My Thoughts Exactly.

The Coolest Theatre Show of the Year is Back! “54 Silhouettes” Comes to Abuja.

Abuja get ready!!! This December the FCT will be thrilled with one of the most creative, and without a doubt the coolest, theatre performances of the year, in Nigeria. Following a mesmerizing premiere performance in Jos, Plateau state, A.R.T will be bringing the double award winning play to the stage in the nation’s capital.

The official poster for Abuja’s performance is a brand new, and absolutely smashing, poster art.

20131122-220757.jpg

Venue: French Institut, Wuse 2 (Beside Mr. Biggs)
Date: 5th & 6th December
Time: 6pm (pre-show entertainment), 7pm (main show)
Tickets: N2000

If the performance in Jos is anything to go by, the Abuja edition of 54 Silhouettes promises to be an absolute blast. Receiving rave reviews from the attending audience for its originality and the passionate performances by the ensemble, A.R.T has in its stables a unique tale of today’s Africa told by today’s Africans.

There are lots to come before the performance: dazzling new, promotional, photos, photos from the performance in Jos, audience reviews and a creative writing challenge in which you can win N5000. So strap yourself in and join us for some of the best fun you’ll have for the rest of the year!

The Abuja performance of 54 Silhouettes is proudly supported by:

The French Institut of Nigeria
Leadership Friday
Aso Radio
Elisem Inspired Consult, Nigeria
Garki Gazette
VIA Concepts & Photography
Ontop Apparels
Elixir Entertainment
LOL Magazine
VNT Concepts
Jtimidal Photography
and
Dreams Recreational Park

54 Silhouettes won the 1st runner up position in the 2011 BBC African Performance competition and was awarded the prestigious Stratford East/30 Nigeria House Prize in 2012.

Download the BBC World Service radio version of 54 Silhouettes here.

French Institut of Nigeria Presents: Festival du Film Documentaire

Vous cherchez une excellente façon de passer vos soirées? Pour la dernière semaine de Novembre de l’Institut français du Nigeria a obtenu votre couvert. Si vous êtes un amateur de films alors ne manquez pas ça!

Looking for a great way to spend your evenings? For the last week of November the French Institut of Nigeria has got your covered. If you’re a lover of films then don’t miss out on this!

Dans le cadre de son « Festival du film documentaire » L’Institut français du Nigeria vous propose un sujet chaque soir à 19h00 à l’IFN, du lundi 25 au vendredi 29 novembre 2013.
Les projections auront lieu en plein air.
L’entrée est gratuite.
Soyez les bienvenus.

In the framework of the Documentary film festival, the French Institute of Nigeria presents a movie every evening at 7pm, from Monday 25th to Friday 29th of November 2013.
Outdoors screening.
Free entrance
You are most welcome.

20131122-112815.jpg

20131122-113008.jpg

Promotional Photos for 54 SILHOUETTES: Character Nationalities

54 Silhouettes is a contemporary African play which probes issues of stereotypes and the portrayal of Africans, bringing the ever expanding multi-cultural relations of today’s into dramatic focus. To give your imagination a visualization boost we have got great photos introducing the characters and their nationalities. Check them out and let us know what you think.

20131112-231332.jpg

20131112-231342.jpg

20131112-231350.jpg

20131112-231357.jpg

20131112-231405.jpg

Alongside the visuals you can listen to an abridged radio version of the play produced by the BBC World Service, here.

In its quest to tell tales of today’s Africa to an international audience, 54 Silhouettes has won the first runner up position in the 2011 BBC African Performance Competition and the Stratford East/30Nigeria House 2012 prize.

Check other photos related to the upcoming performance here and here

Actor/Character Promotional Photos for “54 Silhouettes”

Double award winning play 54 Silhouettes will be premiered this weekend in Jos, Plateau state, Nigeria, at Alliance Française, Jos. The performances promises to be a theatrical thrill. While you eagerly await D-day, you can get a little familiar with the actors.

20131111-215012.jpg

20131111-215026.jpg

20131111-215040.jpg

20131111-215051.jpg

20131111-215105.jpg

listen to an abridged audio version of 54 Silhouettes, produced by the BBC World Service.

Check out more stories on the upcoming performance here, here, here, here, and here.

Photos from Rehearsals of “54 Silhouettes”

It’s rehearsals! Rehearsals! Rehearsals! And each day of work brings us closer to the premiere production of 54 Silhouettes. Check out these awesome photos from earlier rehearsals. All photos are courtesy of the visually brilliant Victor Audu.

20131108-084202.jpg

20131108-084217.jpg

20131108-084228.jpg

20131108-084237.jpg

20131108-084253.jpg

20131108-084313.jpg

20131108-084330.jpg

20131108-084430.jpg

Check out other stories about the upcoming performance here, here and here.

20131108-084441.jpg