Maitisong Festival 2015: Interview with Donald Molosi

“Africa does not tell her stories enough. The fact that this one man who saved the lives of millions of Africans is largely unknown is a problem. I tell this story now because it does not exist in the stories we tell of Africans solving their own problems…”

The Maitisong Festival 2015 is an arts and culture extravaganza that’s taking Gaborone by storm for the rest of this week (22nd – 26th April). Among the amazingly talented performing acts is the unstoppable Donald Molosi who leads a stellar cast in the production of his award winning play Today It’s Me on the 25th. We were lucky enough to steal Donald away from his hectic schedule for a little chit-chat. Enjoy!

Donald Molosi's TODAY IT'S ME hits Gaborone

Tell us about your participation in the Maitisong 2015 festival? How did you get involved? Was it a contest, special selection?

I am elated to be performing at the Maitisong Festival 2015 as a headline act. I submitted my work like any artist and then the Director later informed me that they would be leading the theatre aspect of the festival with my show, Today It’s Me.

How has the public’s reacted to the festival?

The public loves this festival and its staying power 30 years later stands as testament to that. Batswana love seeing many different arts in one place so Maitisong festival provides exactly that. In a way, my show Today It’s Me is a microcosm of the festival in that my show has movement, dance, theatre, acting and live music.

You’ll be performing your award winning play Today It’s Me on the 25th of April, tell us about it.

Today It’s Me is a biographical story I wrote about Philly Lutaaya, the first prominent African to declare that he was living with AIDS. The play explores his courage, musical legacy and struggle from a humanist angle that leaves the audience very inspired and encouraged.

Why this play? What informed its choice for this festival?

Africa does not tell her stories enough. The fact that this one man who saved the lives of millions of Africans is largely unknown is a problem. I tell this story now because it does not exist in the stories we tell of Africans solving their own problems without the problematic intervention of the West. I have not performed in Botswana since three years ago when I performed Sir Seretse Khama’s story so this is an opportunity for me to show what else I can do.

How challenging has it been embodying Philly Lutaaya?

This is so far the hardest role I have taken on. I had to learn Luganda, both language and culture, and also do research in languages I did not know before. I spent years looking through photographs of his, listening to and dissecting his music, speaking with his family and truly beginning to embody him before I wrote the play. It has been a wonderful 5 year journey with his story so far and I look forward to it getting out more.

Molosi Maiti (2a)

In performance actors always seek to reveal layers of truth about their characters. Is the pressure to do this amplified when the character is a historical figure?

Pressure is not what I call it. I just call it basic work. Every character must be given the privilege to exist off-stage so that whatever you perform is a slice of a full life. With real historical characters, that work is even more crucial because you are more consciously creating an oral or performative archive about a people’s story. I enjoy every bit of it and it makes me a better human being to know so intimately the legends on whose shoulders we all stand on.

Your body of work reveals an affinity for historical African figures in your dramaturgy, and we must say it is always brilliant to see someone representing an aspect of the African continent that doesn’t get enough mainstream exposure. How has this focus on historical figures affected you as an artist and an African?

Thank you for seeing value in my obsession with African history and having it color my acting work. Too many Africans self-hate without realizing and those are the ones who ignorantly ask me why I tell African stories. So, it is refreshing and encouraging to hear you call my choice “brilliant.” Through my niche I have created a unique identity for myself in Hollywood, Broadway and at home in Botswana. I am a brand that is lucidly understood because the thread of African history runs through all my work. As a human being I have evolved a lot from learning about our communal human ancestors and seeking to live my life in honor of their efforts that in the 21st century I can be on Broadway telling an African story.

How impactful are events like the Maitisong festival on Botswana’s arts and culture scene? Would you say they demonstrate the economic potential of arts and culture in Africa?

Maitisong unites artists that ordinarily don’t cross paths so the networking aspect of the festival must be stated. It is a hub of activity that university students can use for internships and the like, so the festival goes beyond just thrilling audiences. It takes its social responsibility seriously as a gateway to international arts markets. Maitisong does not demonstrate our potential. Rather, it demonstrates our excellence in its fullest glory. I am past the days of celebrating potential and I celebrate excellence because excellent is what I want to always be.

Molosi Maiti (10)

The festival is only a few days away and preparing for it must have been a challenging but exciting journey. What has left the biggest imprint on you, thus far?

I have been fortunate to be working with amazing actors. I will always be grateful to be in such good company and to perform alongside Kgomotso Tshwenyego and Donn Swaby, both of them international actors of note. I am truly grateful and inspired especially that I am doing what I think is the hardest role of my acting life!

Molosi Maiti (6a)

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Roy Williams of KINGSTON 14 is Back with ANTIGONE at THEATRE ROYAL STRATFORD EAST, LONDON

Following the critical success of Kingston 14 at Theatre Royal Stratford East earlier this year, the BAFTA award-winning playwright Roy Williams is set to return with a thrilling and fast-paced new version of Sophocles’ Greek classic.

READ THE FULL PRESS RELEASE HERE: NATIONAL PRESS RELEASE – TRSE VF

About Antigone

When Creon refuses to bury the body of Antigone’s unruly brother, her anger quickly turns to defiance. Creon, in an attempt to retain control, condemns her to a torturous death – she’s to be buried alive.

BAFTA Award-winning playwright Roy Williams (Kingston 14, Sucker Punch) returns to Theatre Royal Stratford East with this thrilling and fast-paced new production, based on Sophocles’ acclaimed Greek classic.

Set within an urban, contemporary world, Antigone is a story of loyalty, truth, human nature and what happens when one person stands against the rules.

Book great seats from just £12.

‘A chilling and powerful piece’ – The Stage

 ‘Thrilling… direct, of the street, dangerous at times poetic’ – Big Issue

 ‘Mark Monero is absolutely exceptional ‘ – The Independent

IMPROVE YOUR CHANCES OF EMERGING A WINNER IN THE HOMEVIDA SHORT FILM SCRIPT COMPETITION

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N100, 000 is up for grabs in the Homevida 2014 Short Film Script Competition and we want to help you win it! Improve your chances of emerging a winner by better understanding the competition, its mission, criteria and guidelines.

Terms of reference: this details articles 1 – 11 which provide important information about the competition, its goals, judges and overall modes of operation.

Short film script criteria: this details the criteria for short screenplays based on which winning scripts will be selected.

Rules and conditions: ensure that you as a writer are eligible and your script does not get disqualified by understanding the rules and regulations guiding the competition.

Related stories
Press release for the Homevida Short Film Script Competition.

YAKLECH Entertainment Presents: DRUMS ENSEMBLE

Drums Ensemble is an intriguing concept developed by YAKLECH Entertainment – a duo made up of young Nigerian artistes Yaki Musa and Alechenu Abel. A fusion of rhythms and creativity of traditional African era and 21st century society, Drums Ensemble will deliver an exciting evening of prime traditional drumming, with a variety of other traditional instruments in accompaniment.

The aim of Drums Ensemble is to bring children, youth and the older generation in touch with tradition in this technological age. The show is a great way for the Jos community to interact and the two producers, students of the University of Jos, are excited to reinvigorate traditional African culture through its most iconic instrument – the drum. Also expected are about 10 well-travelled and experienced drummers who will perform their magic with a host of drums differing in shapes and sizes.

The Drums Ensemble train will be taking off from Jos and moving to other parts of the country, so be on the lookout, your city may just be next! Culture and tradition are coming with an explosion of sound and rhythm, are you ready?

Date: 24th of April 2014
Venue: Open Air Theatre, University of Jos main campus, Bauchi road, Jos, Plateau state, Nigeria.
Time: 4pm
Fee: N200

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The Place of the Child

by Ezewi Jennifersoter

Doula welcomes me at applause,
Signal announces my arrival.
I am for peace, but learns to war from you.
If your security fails me, my strategy will defend me.
I live to make you happy.
Where then is my place?

Secure me now I pray, to avoid my return of announcement.
If I am happy, I copiously flow!
But when am angry I cease my flow!
Is it not you that knocks? Yet my protection is not assured.
Where then is my place?

Come rain come shine, I am needful.
You saw me the day I saw you: smiles were in embrace, until care became at war with responsibility.
The child weeps!
Publicity views!
Huddling on the floor is a blenched child whose name is vagrant.
Where then is my place?

I know my name! It is not darkly but highly alarming with authority commanding
the ,dawn ‘chorus.
If you cannot rename me, I will search for me and bear me because I am me: The king of mustard seeds, whose place is with honour and dignity.
My place is peaceful, pure and secured longing for your love.
This is the place of the child.

Extant Heritage

by Ezewi Jennifersoter

I have been pacing around you,
Without me thou has no colour.
Your progenitors abuts onto my route to arrive.

You preferred heat for my shade and took after sodden instead of the cover above,
Spewing before the enraged care until penury offers to intervene.

Shut the snivel against my sensuous pleasure because I am puritanical:
Clothes does not pay my dowry, I bring her home after a reputable purchase to warm my wardrobe.

Recusant will adore you at pugnacity clinking in regret if you violate rectitude.

I am ready to tame your super ego, if only you will bear tutee: searching for hone, hooting diligence, despising persona and embracing pertinacity without tiff.

I pervade around your trail screaming my name: “I am Extant!” my heritage remains the same.

Is the Nigerian Artist Losing Societal Relevance?

NGF Crisis, the Artist and Nigerian Mythos
By Africa Ukoh (@pensage4)

Every society has its mythos; the intricate threads of beliefs and opinions which hem its daily living, stitching opinions and oppositions. Mythos plays nursing mother to society’s collective consciousness; cuddled in the lock of its arms, we feed the same source which we suck dry. All societies are carried by pillars of mythos – the United States, ancient Greece, western Africa, Ajegunle, Maitama etcetera. Very importantly, ALL LEVELS OF SOCIETY – family, academia, vocational life etc – are rife with perspective-shaping mythos. Is it not normal then that when these pillars are budged, society quakes?

The Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) election crisis – more crisis for the Guv’nahs than for the regular folk, really – has for weeks now been the issue of debate and mediocre Machiavellian machinations. Many in the nation have watched with cynicism, criticism and glee-of-the-oppressed as ‘their excellencies them’ have strapped on political bikinis for this mud-fight.

It all started when the gubernatorial royals (note to self: possible title for cheesy British sitcom) got together to vote a new president for their ‘Governors only’ club. However things went kaput! when the 35 adults – ADULTS, I say! – were, to put it in delicate ebonics, unable to get they shit together (togethurr?). The behind-closed-doors event was videoed (weirdest derivative ever, I know), presumably, by the Governor of Osun state, and the videoed video went viral once the public got a hold of it – thanks Sahara Reporters!

As always, expected vituperations followed. We laughed, cried, decried, were angered, and arm wrestled over our woeful estate of governance! Yet at the heart of this dramedy lies a hidden-in-plain-sight statement about the relevance of Nigerian artists to their society and the status quo of Nigerian mythology. Mythology? No, no, I don’t mean Shango and Amadioha digging it out in a two-way deirific battle atop the precipitous heights of Olumo Rock. I speaketh, rather, of modern mythology.

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Politicians play a dominant role in the modern mythology of Nigeria. As both leaders and celebrities, how they and their offices are perceived is crucial to the sustenance of corruption… erm, I mean, to the sustenance of governance. Our mythos, you see, is a complex network of contradictory yet symbiotic socio-sympathetic nerves which connect the everyday Nigerian with the objects/subjects of his ‘real fantasies’ (phew!).

A PROBLEM arises, however, when the persons mythologized are alive and kicking. Being alive in the time of your myth creates the MOTHERSHIP of dilemmas: you have to live up to your mythos, or at least live a semblance of it. Hercules may have actually been a whimp who frequently got his butt kicked by the mulieres of Greece, but he wouldn’t have to had deal with Facebook, Twitter and YouTube exposing this epic chagrin. He probably would only have had to grapple with gossip by word of mouth – which is like 0.0000000000001G in internet speed time. But every time Lionel Messi walks out of the tunnel, he has to prove he is the best footballer in the world. And everytime a Nigerian politician steps into the public eye he has to protect the delicate fabric of mythos which beautifies the ignominy surrounding him.

The ineptitude of individuals in positions of authority in Nigeria could win the Oscar for biggest open secret ever. (It must be noted of course that not all in positions of authority are inept, the shoddy guys are just more fun to play with.) Despite this general awareness we accept these… erm, “special needs” authority figures, regardless – often offering little beyond passive resistance. What we are taught to revere, what our mythology tells us to respect, is the position not the person. (A factor found in other modern societies, not just Nigeria, really.) Therefore, all the person, be he the king of olodos or jester-olodo to the king, needs to do is reach that position of reverence, those seats of power, those thrones of mythos! (Insert thunder and lightning sound effects here!) Think of it like a safe-zone in childrens’ catch me if you can games. The rules are, “you can’t touch us if we’re standing in here“.

What things like the NGF election video do then, is sharpen Sabretooth claws, get pumped up on adrenaline and, with mutant ferocity, tear at threads which fasten our accepted/imposed myths.Tthey peel the veils from our eyes; take Freudian sawed-off shotguns, loaded with 16 inch Jung bullets, and shoot down psychological barriers placed between us and the obvious truth. They force us to see. They compel us to walk into dark alleys which we often pretend not to know of, simply because we are too damn stressed out dealing with the daily-bread-battles of life.

This is where the Nigerian artist – the modern Nigerian artist – comes into query. The question I find myself unable to ignore is: when it comes to the necessary destruction of mythos, isn’t the internet doing what Nigerian artists are supposed to be? Is the artist (Nigerian or other) not meant to be the one who exposes the flaws and negativities in our societies? Is it not the duty of the creatively blessed to serve as watchtowers for mankind? Is this not why artists see, hear, taste, smell and feel differently? Is this not why artists have uniquely warped perceptions, so as to delve into the dimensions of our existence, unreachable by ‘normal’ minds, and extract wonder – pertinent wonder – out from the mundane?

Now, no one can or should impose responsibilities upon artists or art, and in no way do I mean to do so. Let expression be what it will be! However, in examining humanity’s long history in the arts, do we not find a common thread in relevance to one’s society where the best of artists have always existed and golden ages of art prevailed? Has the Nigerian artist then refused or failed to assert his/her relevance beyond being the bossom of Bacchus-esque frivolities? A common argument is that the Nigerian public does not like to confront important issues through art, preferring ONLY jollification and escapism. However doesn’t the repeated virality of videos like the NGF elections tell a different story?

Perhaps I could/should narrow “Nigerian artists” to those in music and film? Writers exempted as the nature of their art prohibits frequent engagements with trivialities. (I dare you to write a novel about nothing but your flossing steez!) But, on the other hand, aren’t the various arts forms one holistic community, thus obligated to look out for each other? There should not arise a misconception that artists are only relevant when they deal with political issues. Nein! Art should NOT be considered ONLY a weapon to use AGAINST government. This erroneous assumption is, in my opinion, partly responsible for the stifled range of topics found in some art forms.

A plethora of issues are available for artists to woo. Society is PREGNANT with mythos from other levels apart from the political: religious, social, cultural, psychological, philosophical, esoteric, etc. And of course art is NOT restricted to the destruction of mythos alone. Neither should it be taken that art must always be dead serious. The issue is range, or lack thereof, and relevance.

Is it not the case, then, that in the absence of creative explorations of matters close to our cultural heart, and near to our national cake, society has turned to the internet for pertinence and to the Nigerian artist for flippancy? Have we not CEASED to look to upcoming movies and songs with hopes for BOTH enjoyment and poignance? Do we not instead rely on the next REAL LIFE CALAMITY courtesy of YouTube, an accidental film maker and a well charged phone? Yet if this is so, can one really, really blame the Nigerian artist? Really? Because if you think about it, the roundness of a woman’s buttocks and the trauma of being used like a roll-on are not going to sing about themselves, are they?

Ps: it is important to note that there are lots of talented artists out there who stray from the worn out norms to give birth to art pieces as rich as they are diverse. To these, one can only say, thank you so much.

Note: the opinions expressed in this article are entirely those of the author. Posting such articles on A.R.T’s site does not infer endorsements.

NUTAF RETURNS

The Nigerian Universities Theatre Arts Festival (NUTAF) has announced its return to the theatre academia scene with an invitation to a whooping 37 Universities nationwide.

Following a 7 year hiatus the event is being revamped with Nasarawa State University, Keffi, playing host to hundreds of students from departments of performing arts around the country.

In the past NUTAF was considered the “olympics” of performing arts activities in academia, attracting the support of established Nigerian actors, theatre practitioners, film makers, and more.

The event was last hosted by the University of Jos, Plateau state, in 2006. This year Nasarawa State University, Keffi will be hosting the event from 14th – 20th July, 2013. To all young thespians we say, get out there and have a theatrical blast! The renaissance is well alive!

NUTAF 2013: INVITED NIGERIAN UNIVERSITIES

These are the 37 Universities invited to participate at NUTAF 2013:

FEDERAL UNIVERSITIES (16)
Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria
Obafemi Awolowo University,Ile-Ife
Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka
University of Nigeria Nsukka
University of Ibadan, Ibadan
University of Benin, Benin
University of Calabar, Caliber
University of Jos, Jos
University of Abuja, Gwagwalada
University of Ilorin, Ilorin
University of Port-Harcourt, Port-Harcourt
University of Lagos, Akoka-Lagos
University of Uyo, Uyo
University of Maiduguri, MAiduguri
Federal University, Oye-Ekiti, Oye-Ekiti
Federal University,Otuoke, Otuoke

STATE UNIVERSITIES (15)
Nasarawa State University, Keffi
Benue State University, Makurdi
Plateau State University, Bokkos
Niger Delta University
Imo State University, Owerri
Olabisi Onabanjo University, Aguoye
Lagos State University,
Delta State University
Ambrose Ali University
Kogi State University
Osun State University
Akwa-Ibom State University
Ekiti State University
Kwara State University
Kaduna State University

PRIVATE UNIVERSITIES (6)
Redeemer’s University, Mowe
Igbinedion University, Okada Benin city
Bowen University, Iwo, Osun state
Afe Babalola University, Edo-Ekiti
Obong University
Western Delta University, Oghara

Vcity Media

Our friends at Victoria Holdings Media are looking for creative minds to work with. It just may be something that catches your fancy. Check it out:

VictoriaH Media

VictoriaH Media is a social platform that connects continents. We share news on events and creative works from different parts of the world. We invite you to be a part of our multicultural website.

Our aim is to create a social platform for the world to share information from a range of perspectives to encourage varied exploration and promotion of culture.

We are looking for interns, content providers and talented guest contributors who are passionate about culture, literature, fashion, entertainment, travel, food, and lifestyle. Entries from all continents are welcome.

There’s a place for everyone… Whether you are a poet, playwright, gymnast or just a passionate writer. Send us your work and we’ll put it in the right category.

Here are a few suggestions

Culture: cultural awareness from different parts of the world. This covers cultural practices, festivals, history and dance, to name a few.

Entertainment: entertainment news is one of the catchiest subjects in the world. Let us know who the best artists are in your country and why. From time to time we will profile celebs from all over the world.

Food: food is loved by many. We’d love to know what you think about food, recipes and world food culture

Literature: prose, plays, love letters, odes. You can also share your art work for public interpretation… Or send in your own interpretation.

Fashion: Tell us about fashion in your country. Best shopping spots, dress code and fashion tip. We are also happy to profile upcoming fashion designers.

Beauty: Send us beauty tips, traditional products and their uses. Tell us what you think about the word beauty.

Photography: Tell your story with photography. Share fascinating photos from all over the world.

People: This section covers life and wellbeing. Travel tips, Relationships, legal advice, discussions and more.

Vcity TV: Make shows of all of the above and we’ll air it.

Please contact us if you’re interested in possible contribution or internship by sending your entries or CV to victoria_city@ymail.com

Website: http://www.victoriaholdingsinc.com
Twitter: @VictoriaH_Media
Email: victoria_city@ymail.com

Follow us on twitter @VictoriaH_media and like our page on Facebook.

Have You Heard About the 30 Nigeria House project?

What is 30 Nigeria House project?
30 Nigeria House (30NH) project is a legacy project aimed at making significant investment in the works of 30 young talented artists of Nigerian descent, as a means of developing the arts, culture and entertainment industries.

This groundbreaking project, an initiative of New World Nigeria in collaboration with leading UK theater company Theatre Royal Stratford East, has brought to surface stellar young talent in various fields of the arts in Nigeria and the UK. The 30 award winners (23 British-Nigerians and 7 Nigerians) are a diverse blend of emerging and established artists – actors, singers, dancers, poets, filmmakers and more.

Through the project, Theatre Royal Stratford East and New World Nigeria are supporting the artists with awards of £3000, thus making a major contribution to the development of their original creative works, ranging from film, to music, to theatre. Through the 30NH project, the young artists have made noteworthy contributions to the artistic communities in South Africa and UK.

54 Silhouettes by Africa Ukoh
Among the winners is young Nigerian writer Africa Ukoh, whose award winning play 54 Silhouettes was selected under the theatre category. A.R.T is currently developing 54 Silhouettes for theatrical performance.

The play tells the story of a struggling Nigerian actor in Hollywood who gets the chance to star in a blockbuster film but, upon discovering the film to be merely a stereotypical and derogatory portrayal of his country and continent, he finds himself at odds with the very same forces that would bring him success, as he fights to preserve the dignity of his African identity.

54 Silhouettes won the first runner-up prize in the 2011 BBC African performance competition. Listen to the BBC World Service broadcast of the play here and find out more about Africa Ukoh’s project here.

The Vision
Our dream for this project is to use theatre as an art form for promoting and empowering not only a positive image for Africa but a complete one as well. The expanse of the African story deserves to be told in its rich entirety.

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30NH reflects Nigeria’s recognition of its dynamically talented people and the importance of supporting its creative industries and talented people. A.R.T is excited to be working on this 30NH project and aspire to bring nothing less than a terrific theatrical experience to the African continent. The journey has only just begun.

Visit the 30 Nigeria House project page on the Theatre Royal Stratford East website to find out more.

Contact information
Do you believe in the power of African arts? We would love you to be a part of this project! To find out more on how you can get involved email us at: artheaterent@gmail.com

You can also visit our contact page or call +234 803 620 7841 or +234 818 663 0223.