Friday, January 2, 2009

Kurunmi Rehearsals

Kurunmi Rehearsals
By Obidike Okafor/NEXT
January 1, 2009 10:37PMT
- When performers gather on a stage, barefoot, wearing modern day clothes to act a seventeenth century play, one begins to wonder about the contrast. Then you realise it's not lights, camera and action. It's the rehearsal for Kurunmi, a play by the National Troupe of Nigeria in collaboration with the National Theatre, which will run from December 22nd to January 2nd 2008 at Cinema Hall 2 of the National Theatre.
On entering the hall for the rehearsals, clothes and bags were scattered on the seats. Some of the performers who were not on the stage acting either lay on the floor getting some rest before their scenes or sat down to get the lines right. On stage, between red and black curtains, gesticulations and loud voices fill the vacuum caused by the many empty seats, as they performed for the audience of one the guest directors, Mr Ben Tomoloju. The director, an experienced dramatist and journalist, watched with keen interest the actions on the stage from different seats in the theatre, interrupting the actions on stage when it was necessary.
He sometimes had to demonstrate what the performer should do to make it interesting to the audience and attractive on camera. Even the blackouts did not stop the rehearsal. The choreographed scenes and Yoruba songs were accompanied by drummers who did not escape the director's eyes; the director noticed when the drummers went off beat and when the drums were meant to stop, and didn't. The performers had the opportunity to use props for the play to help them get into their roles.
Mrs kehinde Fasuyi, who has been a stage performer for over 23 years, and also recently has appeared on a TV series (the drama Super Story) said "Kurunmi is an epic play that shows when the traditions of Yoruba began to degenerate." Another actor, David Uba, who started acting professionally in 2006, said "lessons from Kurumi are relevant for today's leaders." Oladele Akinseye, who takes the part of a warrior in the play, had to put his musical production on hold to work with Mr Tomoloju.
"Kurumi was about the truth, tradition had been flouted," he said.Kurunmi was written by Ola Rotimi and has elements that make the play a complete experience: songs that give the play its melodic face, proverbs that add weight to the words in the play ("The philosophy of a frog is the philosophy of life," "It takes a monkey to see the ugliness in the buttocks of a fellow monkey," etc.); courage and humour complete the play. Are Ona Kakanfo Kurunmi is a stickler to tradition. And when the wind of change came did he stand? That is the question that the drama answers.

Wale Macaulay (Kurunmi), Ropo Ewenla (Ogunmola), Gogo Ombo Gogo (Are Agoro Ajayi), Philip Okolo (Balogun Ogukorooju), Osagie Okedigun (Abogunrin), Ife Salako (Seriki Jegede/Blaogun Anoba/Ijaye Christian Convert) and Yemi Adeyemi (Kujenyo) are some of the seasoned performers in the play.

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