Author Topic: SOYINKA, SHAKESPEARE ON TRIAL  (Read 4129 times)

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SOYINKA, SHAKESPEARE ON TRIAL
« on: January 10, 2010, 08:41:42 AM »
Soyinka, Shakespeare on trial
By NWAGBO NNENYELIKE
Sunday, January 10, 2010



With the Play Reading Session (PRS) of Lekan Balogun’s Soyinka in the Eye of Shakespeare, the contradiction in the plays of both great playwrights, William Shakespeare and Wole Soyinka, were exposed.
The budding playwright comparatively pointed out the tragic flaws of characters in Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Soyinka’s Death and Kings Horseman - such characters like Pilkings, Elesin Oba, Olohun Iyo, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth.

Balogun equally queried certain attitudes of both playwrights, wondering why they write in a way most people find difficult to understand, and challenged Soyinka, the first African winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, to “stop thinking that he is the only one who sees the world the way others do not.”

In the play, which is an ongoing experiment of Balogun’s test of a new style of writing he christened “Theory of Contradiction,” he used characters in Soyinka and Shakespeare’s plays to explore the metaphors in the works of both playwrights.
The PRS, which was organized by the National Troupe of Nigeria at the National Arts Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos, made use of actors, directors, playwrights, theatre critics, journalists, reviewers among other theatre stakeholders to explore the Balogun ideal.

Under the chairmanship of Ihria Enakimio, the event started with a presentation of excerpts of the new play, after which the chairman assigned people to read a role. This exercise was followed by critical commentaries by participants.

Chairman of the National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners (NANTAP), Lagos Branch, Mufu Onifade, described the play as too academic and accused Balogun of looking at Soyinka from his own eye, and not “Soyinka in the Eye of Shakespeare,” which is the title.
The NTN Director, Drama, Josephine Igberaese, noted that Elesin Oba and Macbeth, both characters in Soyinka and Shakespeare’s plays, which Balogun also used, are two characters in different societies. She therefore accused the budding playwright of not handling his presentation maturely.

“You have to rework this play in a way that transition will be obvious,” she counselled.
But Mike Anyanwu differed with Onifade and Igberaese, and instead commended the young playwright for taking a bold step. According to Anyanwu, the playwright made the readers to reason as intellectuals.
Although he queried why Elesin is driven by the same ambition as Macbeth, he accepted that the playwright has employed surrealism. His words: “Where are the points that you place Elesin and Macbeth? Looking at the parameters of Aristotle’s Poetics, we can apply that to the tragic hero Macbeth, but we cannot apply it to Elesin, because his society wants him to carry on a different assignment. Your problem is trying to look at both playwrights.

They are at their distinctive natures.
“For me, the world of Balogun is that of a surrealistic play, where characters exist in the same place even though they are from different playwrights and are from different societies. Balogun assumed they have all died and are now in the same place interacting together.’’

Steve Ogundele, Da’Costa Adeyemo and Martin Adaji all agreed with Anyanwu that Balogun has presented an issue worth debating. Adeyemo observed that he has bridged a cultural difference of both societies while Ogundele noted that through the new play he has been able to understand the two plays.
“For me, I read Macbeth and Death and Kings Horseman and did not understand certain things. But I am now at home with them,’’ he said, adding, “but I call on the playwright to take the criticisms in good faith. In fact, as it is a work in progress, I suggest he change the title.”

In his response, Balogun explained that he tried to situate his work on theory of the absurd and create his own language. With the absurd theory, he noted that you can bring out the contradictions of man.
“I have looked at Soyinka and Shakespeare. The truth is that this play is not an adaptation of the plays of both playwrights. It is inter-textual interaction.

“My play is also not about character development. This is because I have an issue I am raising. As a result of this, I create my own language because the characters are now in my own world. What I have done is that I used Soyinka and Shakespeare with the characters they created in their plays.
“Elesin, who is in the great beyond for penance, sees Lady Macbeth and wants her. So the same thing that made him fail before will make him fail again. Macbeth was ready to kill Elesin to satisfy his wife and also make sure Elesin did not win her over. However, the point is that this is the first draft of the play,” Balogun said.

On his part, Enakimio urged the playwright to take the criticisms the work has attracted as normal, because, according to him, the essence of the gathering of the arts community in such instance is for critical assignment.
“Let the playwright take note of most of the points raised. They are criticisms that will help the work. We are here for criticism. It has been done in good faith. There are certain things the playwright should not be defending. He should just accept them in good faith and rework the script later.”

Balogun, a Creative Arts graduate from the University of Lagos, has interest in research on African myths, legend, philosophy and religion. He has written plays based on his research output. These include The General and His Men, The Rejected One, The Ghost Catcher, Goodbye Yesterday, Rage on the Zambezi, and Kurunmi Meets Shen Te in Delphi among others.

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SOYINKA, SHAKESPEARE ON TRIAL
« on: January 10, 2010, 08:41:42 AM »

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Offline Prince

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Re: SOYINKA, SHAKESPEARE ON TRIAL
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2010, 08:42:04 AM »
Really on trial.

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Re: SOYINKA, SHAKESPEARE ON TRIAL
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2010, 08:42:04 AM »

 

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