Live theatre is not the most popular medium of entertainment in Nigeria, despite its long history in the country. Parts of Nigeria’s pre-colonial past had travelling theatres which performed in public spaces such as markets. This style of theatre in public places is replicated by the Lagos Theatre Festival, which is involved in attracting new audiences to the pleasures of live theatre. The Lagos Theatre Festival took place earlier this year in selected venues across Lagos, including Freedom Park and the University of Lagos.

 

(British Council Nigeria)

(British Council Nigeria)

Organized by the British Council in Lagos and now in its third edition, the Lagos Theatre Festival featured curated shows alongside fringe shows. Although its grand opening was at Freedom Park, a prison turned arts and culture hub, over 100 live shows were performed by 35 companies in 19 venues. Some curated shows included the likes of “Fela Son of Kuti,” which depicts the lives of band members and dancers that worked with the legendary Nigerian musician Fela Kuti in the 1980s during an army raid; “Purge” involved the audience in a dialogue-based show that critically looked at friendship in the social media age. While “Every Single Day” provided a comedic look into the pressure placed on young Nigerian women to tie the knot.

 

On the other hand, fringe shows included the digital driven “I Dream of Lagos,” which linked two audience members through a mobile phone unlocking audio-visual content around Freedom Park. There was also an open mic at the trendy Bogobiri, among others. The festival also involved professional exchanges between Nigerian and British artists, as well as training hosted by technical experts. Some of the plays were staged by popular Nigerian actors, such as Dolapo Oni, Gideon Okeke, and Linda Ejiofor.

 

Driven to build new audiences and considering the lack of theatre spaces in Nigeria, the Lagos Theatre festival took on unconventional ways that seem to be successful in drawing crowds.

 

Is theatre experiencing a revival in Nigeria? Share your thoughts in a comment below or on Twitter @rafeeeeta