Monday, March 26, 2007
laspapi’s stage play at the Muson Centre, “Anatomy of a Woman” went without a hitch. The cast and crew lived up to the director’s expectations and the audience loved the performance. There were two shows, one at 3pm and the other at 6pm.
Rehearsals had been difficult, as Stella, with a work schedule that would have felled lesser people had to reschedule a few times.
During the rehearsals for the show, Stella showed why she (even though under 30) has been one of the biggest actors on the African continent for a while. She interpreted the character accurately and even though rehearsals swung between her place and laspapi’s offices, she stayed on top of things.
There were people from everywhere at the show and remarkably, they all seemed to like it. Stefan Cramer of the Heinrich Boll Foundation and his wife, Erika, had thought it would be soap-opera-ish but underestimated the genius of laspapi (hehe). They liked what they saw.
I met other bloggers, Ore and Jesus' Gurl in particular. Apparently, Omohemi Benson was there as well but we didn’t get to meet. I wish we had.
Now after the tiring, gruelling performance, Stella told me she (and Kate Henshaw) were going across the road to the City Mall to unwind. I went to see her after we'd finished packing our stuff and cast and crew were ready to go home.
And there, she beckoned me to lean closer and told me something I had never heard before.
laspapi is one of the country's most consistent large scale theatre producers. Some say he is the most consistent. In all my performances, I had never heard anything like what Stella said that night.
This A -list actor... (I had seen her during rehearsals refuse cheques of close to a million naira from Nollywood producers because she wasn't satisfied with the quality of work offered), this A-list Actor said she wasn't going to collect payment for the stunning performance she put up. She said her work had been for free. Stella was meant to have collected a sum of six figures from me but she refused to be paid.
She said it was to encourage the theatre, save it from the slump it was in, (She's a graduate of the Creative Arts). She said she'd seen the expenses incurred and this was her contribution. She had shown no inclination of her intent during rehearsals, working as hard as the others did to ensure it went well.
So I sat numb in front of her, kept hugging her without being able to say anything. And now I'm telling the world about this lady with a heart of gold.
I told Agatha Amata who called her to say thank you, and Jahman Anikulapo, editor of the Sunday Guardian will be publishing this unprecedented move by an actor in an industry peopled with those who look after themselves first and with good reason.
Stella did the impossible, worked without pay, and in me she has found an adherent for life. Sometimes, getting up close to people shows the real "them". Stella's just a girl (like "Anna Scott"/Julia Roberts in "Notting Hill") but she's a lovely, lovely girl with class and as a human being, worthy of all respect.
In the picture from left, Stella and her suitors after the show- James(Olarotimi Michaels), The Boss (Kenneth Uphopho) and Mohammed (Bolaji Alonge)