• Tuesday, July 16, 2024
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Easter show: Motherland The Musical refreshes stage, amid healing for country


No doubt, lovers of live theatre performance across the country were enthralled over the festive period of December and New year at Terra Kulture Arena Lagos, where Motherland The Musical staged for eight days.

Of course, the creative ingenuity of the cast members at the sold-out shows made the attendees to ask for more.

In response to that request, Bolanle Austen-Peters (BAP) Productions, the producers of the play, promised a return of the musical this Easter holiday.

Reputed for producing classical plays, about nine so far that have been performed on three continents including; Saro the Musical, Wakaa the Musical, Fela and The Kalakuta Queens and Death and the King’s Horseman written by Wole Soyinka, BAP fulfilled its promise of retuning Motherland The Musical this Easter and it was much more enthralling for the attendees than the December and New Year shows.

The musical staged from April 7 -10, 2023; Good Friday through the Easter weekend and was sold-out for all the days. The storyline always stands out.

When confronted by a group of young political rallyists who are fed up with the state of the country, an Igbo man and a Fulani woman share the story of their romance starting in 1957, on the brink of Nigeria’s independence, and how the country’s history has shaped their love.

Obviously, through music, romance and necessary conversations, “Motherland the Musical” tells the story of Nigeria; the past, the present and hopes for the future.

The play is better seen than narrated because of the nostalgic feelings of the live performance, as well, it is timely as Nigeria is about to wrap up its political season.

As well BAP employed a high level of creativity in the Easter show, refreshing the storyline to reflect the feelings after a contentious election and results that seem to have split the country, while many are hoping for healing.

The healing seems to have started with the musicals as Chinedu and Hassana, the Igbo and Fulani couple in the play, insist that love will conquer for Nigeria and that it is the measure of the cord that will bind the country together after the election fracas.

A fresh angle in the musical this Easter was the part played by Helen Paul where as an elder, she told the youths that they cannot take power by protesting or signing petition, rather by working together, strategizing long enough and pushing themselves into strategic places to prepare long enough to face the old politicians and wrestle power out of them.

She blamed the youths for being Instagram politicians and that the courts they want to go to are being populated by old judges too.

In all, the cast members thrilled the audience, using comic lines to highlight socio-political issues of the country, from the First Republic, the civil war, long military rule, return to democracy and to the 2023 general elections.

At the last show on Easter Monday, Bolanle Austen-Peters, executive producer of the musical and CEO, BAP, used the final show platform to announce another musical coming up this December, which is tagged ‘Funmilayo’.

She commended the attendees, sponsors and crew and cast members including some of the Terra Academy for the Arts (TAFTA) members, who are already finding their feet in the creative industry.

Demas Nwoko receives Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at Venice Biennale

Demas Nwoko, Nigerian-born artist, designer, and architect, is the recipient of the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement of the 18th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia entitled The Laboratory of the Future. The decision was taken at the recommendation of the exhibition curator, Lesley Lokko, and was approved by La Biennale’s Board of Directors chaired by Roberto Cicutto. The awards ceremony will be part of the inauguration of the 18th exhibition and will be held on May 20, 2023, at Ca’Giustinian, the headquarters of La Biennale di Venezia.

Demas Nwoko is a Nigerian-born artist, designer, and master builder at the forefront of Nigeria’s modern art movement. Through his works, he strives to incorporate and articulate African subject matter and modern techniques in architecture and stage design. His versatile works span mediums and disciplines, including architecture, sculpture, design, literature, criticism, set design, and history.

Son of Obi (King) Nwoko II, Prince Demas Nwoko was born in 1935 in Idumuje Ugboko, Nigeria. There, Nwoko was inspired by the newly-constructed residences in the town and the palace edifice of the Obi, his grandfather, who designed the palace. He studied at the Nigerian College of Arts, Science, and Technology in Zaria between 1957 and 1961, where he became a founding member of the Zaria Art Society. The group, also known as the “Zaria Rebels,” promoted the idea of natural synthesis, a concept developed by artist Uche Okeke. The concept aimed to bridge the gap between the artists’ Western training by colonial educators and their African background, focused on traditional themes and narratives. The Zaria Rebels contributed to the movement of the postcolonial modernist vanguard in Nigeria in the early 1960s.

Later, Nwoko founded the New Culture Studios in Ibadan, a training center for the performing arts and design program. The impact of his body of works lies in his desire to synthesize Western influences with authentic and traditional African practices. His architecture demonstrates these interests. His buildings, although relatively few, demonstrate a sustainable and resource-mindful approach while incorporating culturally authentic forms of expression.

One of the central themes of the 18th International Architecture Exhibition is an approach to architecture as an ‘expanded’ field of endeavors, encompassing both the material and immaterial worlds; a space in which ideas are as important as artifacts, particularly in the service of what is yet to come. With all of its emphasis on the future, however, it seems entirely fitting that the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement should be awarded to someone whose material works span the past 70 years but whose immaterial legacy – approach, ideas, ethos – is still in the process of being evaluated, understood and celebrated.

Baba (a Nigerian honorific title) Demas Nwoko is everything all at once: an architect, sculptor, designer, writer, set designer, critic, and historian. When pushed, he refers to himself as an “artist-designer,” which speaks both to the polyglot nature of his talents and oeuvres and to the rather narrow interpretation of the word ‘architect’ that has arguably kept his name out of the annals.

He was a founder member of the Zaria Art Society – a group that included Yusuf Grillo, Bruce Onobrakpeya, Uche Okeke, and Simon Okeke, also known as the “Zaria Rebels” – who were interested in a blend of modernity and African aesthetics as an authentic language to reflect the spirit of political independence growing in the 1940s and 1950s.

This profound desire to blend and synthesize, rather than sweep away, has characterized Nwoko’s work for over five decades. He was one of the first Nigerian makers of space and form to critique Nigeria’s reliance on the West for imported materials and goods, as well as ideas, and has remained committed to using local resources.

Although relatively few, Nwoko’s buildings in Nigeria fulfill two critical roles. They are forerunners of the sustainable, resource-mindful, and culturally authentic forms of expression now sweeping across the African continent – and the globe – and they point towards the future, no mean achievement for someone whose work is still largely unknown, even at home. In 1977, writing about Nwoko’s first commission to build the complex for the Dominican Institute in Ibadan, the architectural critic Noel Moffett wrote: “Here, under a tropical sun, architecture, and sculpture combine in a way which only Gaudí perhaps, among architects, has been able to do so convincingly.

It gives me enormous pride and pleasure to award the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement to Demas Nwoko, an architect of both the 20th and 21st centuries, and to encourage all visitors to the 18th International Architecture Exhibition to visit the small but perfectly formed and articulated display of his work in the Stirling Pavilion in the Giardini, alongside the Book Pavilion Project of The Laboratory of the Future.

Commenting on the life time award, Giles Omezi, Architecture & Academic (London/Lagos), said that the Golden Lion Award to Demas Nwoko is fantastic news and long overdue global acknowledgement of the special work that Demas has built in Nigeria over the last 60 years.

“His very limited oeuvre of architectural work has a distinct quality and character that has been shaped by a clear theoretical position of cultural synthesis and strong technical awareness about building and making,” Giles Omezi said.

“His ideas, which in most cases he executed in the classic role of the master builder, are often intense workings of building and space informed by his knowledge as both a sculptor and set designer. Unafraid to innovate, to make and to experiment, he has provided an almost ‘Gaudiesque’ reference for architects that is ultimately difficult to copy, but offers a proof of the possibilities of a more considered approach to architecture”.