Monday, April 28, 2008
The V Monologues- The Cast
I'd been wanting to write this for a while for the sake of posterity mostly and as an accurate record of cast members and their contribution to the Nigerian version of the monologues. I had an interesting part to play in the project, being responsible for the choice of the writers (4 females apart from my very male-self) who wrote for the Nigerian audience and also the selection of actors.
They were chosen for varying reasons.
Omonor Imobhio, because I had known her since her early days as a capable thespian (circa 2001) and for many of my plays, she had been part of the cast that acted the premieres- The Other Side, Gbanja Roulette, Piper Piper, The Inheritors, Audu's Way and a couple of others. Even then she made it look easy, this University of Lagos graduate with a second class-upper division degree in Bio-Chemistry. Omonor, a couple of years ago was given best actor-stage, movie, everything by 'The Future Awards' for those under 30. She works at her craft. Even with the Abuja and Lagos performances of the V Monologues, she showed her commitment and professionalism. The crowds loved her as she did her thing.
Kate Henshaw Nuttall- One of Nigeria's most competent actors. I first worked with Kate in 2005 when I invited her to be a part of my play, 'The Other Side'. She was very busy with the tv soap, "Doctors' Quarters" at the time, but she managed her time and stunned the audience and those that might have expected less than a powerful stage performance. Equally as comfortable before live audiences as much as before tv and film cameras, she was chosen for her abilities as well as her professionalism. Kate did the first 4 performances (2 at the Muson Centre in Lagos and the 2 Abuja shows), unable to be a part of the National Arts Theatre and Terra Kulture shows)because of prior commitments.
Bimbo Akintola- Like Kate, as comfortable before live audiences as before cameras. The University of Ibadan Theatre Arts Graduate performed the pieces submitted by the blogger, Overwhelmed, and had the audience crying with her. Bimbo, able to sing as well as act, often shared tips with other cast members. She delivered a rendition of Nelly Uchendu's classic, (Never you marry a waka-about) that had even the director, gasping for air. Her strength as well as Kate's is the ability to be natural, to think fast on her feet. Both great mimes, they made us laugh all the time (and absconded a couple of times from the hotel/camps we were in, I must add)
Jennifer Osammor- Pound for pound, the most experienced theatre artiste in the cast with more stage shows under her belt than any two of the other cast members combined. Jennifer had performed more than 25 shows at the Muson Centre before the weekly Theatre at Terra at Terra Kulture, Victoria Island, which started about 9 months ago, and which she is a consistent part of. She performed the hilarious piece, "Esau's Pottage" as well as the more solemn "Baby's Baby". The University of Lagos Creative Arts graduate is a soldily dependable actor, able to deliver once the directions are clear.
Kemi 'lala' Akindoju- lala was the youngest member of the cast by a wide margin, turning 21 only after four of the six V Monologues shows slated for March had been performed. Rapidly gaining a reputation as one of the most competent actors in the country, 'lala' was 'discovered' at the auditions for laspapi's "A Season Of Soyinka" in April of 2007. She had been part of several plays by other producers before then but has now gained a fierce resume at Theatre@Terra on which stage she has performed almost weekly for 9 months. The Second Class Upper Division graduate of Insurance from the University of Lagos played some of the most complicated monologues at the shows, 'I still have questions', 'Daddy's Little Girl', 'A Culture Of Silence' and then took over Kate Henshaw's 'The Black Widow' when Kate was unavailable. Of all the artistes, she carried the highest workload. And she carried it lightly.
Tunde Aladese- an elfin highly gifted writer was 'discovered' by laspapi during the writers' workshop for the V Monologues, which she was a part of. Tunde who had never been on stage before, spoke as she wrote, easily, fluently and laspapi turned to her one day and laughingly said she had to be a part of the Monologues performances. About a month later, she called to ask if the offer was still good and became a part of the acting team as well, performing some of the pieces she wrote- 'Revulva' and 'Family Meeting', the latter being a clear favourite of all audiences. Tunde writes for the magazine, True Love and until recently, was an associate producer on 'Moments with Mo'
Ashionye Ugboh- 'We never know who's watching us'. I changed TV stations one day, a couple of years ago, and saw the singer and radio presenter, Ashionye, acting on the soap, "Doctors' Quarters". It was a bit-performance but it stuck in my mind and as I scouted for artistes to be a part of the V Monologues this year, I remembered her. It proved to be an inspired choice and her performance of "Maintenance Culture", an old woman discovering her sexuality, had crowd after crowd in stitches. Stage performances came to her naturally once she got into the swing of things.
Yinka Davies- One of Nigeria's best known jazz singers has a voice in a class of its own. She performed the war crimes piece, "Officers' Mess" and led the team in with songs in the Abuja performances. Yinka, who was a well known stage actor in the Lagos circuit in the 90s performed well in the Monologues but didn't reach her full potential because of work commitments.
Funmi Iyanda- host of the tv prog, "New Dawn" took part in only one out of the 6 scheduled shows. Highly passionate about women's issues, she performed "The Woman Died", a piece about women who keep quiet in the face of tyranny.
Pictures from top- Funmi Iyanda, Omonor Imobhio, Tunde Aladese, Yinka Davies, Ashionye Ugboh, Bimbo Akintola, Jennifer Osammor, Kate Henshaw-Nuttal, Kemi Akindoju. (All pictures by Amaize Ojeikere except Funmi Iyanda's, courtesy her blog)