Poet. Filmmaker. Adventurer.
Death and the King’s Horseman
Novels are written for the page. And plays are written for the stage. No matter how many times you read a play, you need to see it come alive on stage before you can fully appreciate the beauty of the words you’ve read.
Drama is a religion. And the stage is where the true believers go on a creative pilgrimage. The stage is where you go to experience the purity of drama; to be baptized by the Trinity – the unity of time, space, and action. When a play comes together nicely on stage, a dove hovers over your head – and now, you’ve been touched.
But when you come to this altar, there are expectations – especially when you’ve come to see a revered text come to life.
Death and the King’s Horseman is not just a play; for me, it is the Holy Grail of African plays, with its deep thematic preoccupations. The dialogue flows like honey laced with molten magma, and erupts like an angry volcano. A masterpiece written by a wordsmith who’s mastered the art of using words like a Samurai would use his sword – to defiantly etch commentary on international relations into the minds of those who behold his words.
Enter Bolanle Austen Peters with her rendition of this masterpiece – and like every director is wont to do, she conducted this brilliant symphony with a dash of the nuances that have made her productions a mainstream delicacy amongst proper theatre faithfuls and new converts alike.
The production felt raw, gritty, and casual at the same time – like a rhythmical confluence of sadness and joy, punctuated by the unexpected humour; the parody-like portrayal of some characters; and the creative liberties taken with the performances to make the experience for the audiences more enjoyable. This was a gamble – especially with a classic like Death and the King’s Horseman, but oddly enough it paid off – it hit the jackpot with audiences who obviously couldn’t get enough.
I can imagine the anxiety that shadows the production of such a revered work, where the source material has been canonized as flawless. So, I can imagine the risk and the trepidation that must have followed the director like goosebumps as she made every decision – from casting, to music, to lighting design, to the blocking – every decision to stay as faithful as possible to the source material and to equally entertain a mixed audience of theatre connoisseurs and newcomers with a yet-to-be-refined taste for theater. The balancing act was crucial and difficult to imagine but made effortless and imperceptible by the clever strokes of Africa’s foremost theatrical genius.
The performers performed – they performed so well, that by the time the play ends, you’d wish it didn’t. Their performances stay glued in your mind, and you go back home watching the reruns with mental clarity and ruminating the import of the message you just received – and only then would you realize that the message was a sad one – and sadly still tacitly resonates with the times we live in today.
For Bolanle Austen Peters’ rendition of Death and the King’s Horseman, I’ll recommend it to all lovers of drama – and cinema – to come experience the cinema of stage.
Duke recommends it. Go see it. Rating - excellent
Segun Adefila is an arrogant prick
Segun is one of the most talented I have encountered. He is surreal and not normal. His dreadlocks standing above his head like d snakes on the Medusa head
But I love him to pieces. His handsome red eyes look at u penetratively while he sways ever so gently as he speaks warmly and softly to an arrogant and impatient Duke.
I love engaging Segun in deep conversations. He is a firm believer in Yoruba gods and deep in yoruba mythology. Our first encounter was on the oedipus complex where we argued on the phone for over one hour if the theory that at some point you will feel like fucking your mother was correct.
Using very deep yoruba ethos he fought very strenuously at the stupidity of the theory. I was impressed and loved him. He had my time and we talked and talked and talked
Then yday my review of Bolanles play threw him at me again. He was of the opinion that Soyinka’s Play was 40years old and that it was a classic and must not be touched. It was to be put in an urn and worshipped
This led us to the classic argument who does the writer write for? Himself or the audience
Segun went deep. I tried to follow him. He swam really deep and I struggled to follow him. His arguments were pristine in support of the arrogance in writing or creating for self.
I didn’t agree. Why write for self when u are not the one buying it. Why perpetuate the already admirable natural exclusiveness of raw talent by throwing out works only u and ur ilk who are in the minority would understand.
Why pander to the stupidity of the bland bourgeois who like the fools in the kings Palace agree with Alibaba that he had an invincible jacket just so they belong
Soyinka and the rest including Segun would stand on a lectern and prine and say worship me. I dare you to understand me and spend your money while looking at my beautiful feathers. Watch me preen like a spoilt peacock as you struggle to understand me. Let me feed of your envy, your littleness. My works is for me and u will Pay me to humiliate you.
But I say no. I refuse to be so humiliated. I will water down your work since I am paying to see it.
I will not go and watch a Soyinka drama where he will spend the whole two hours talking to himself. I will watch another version like Bolanles production as that wil give me the chance to even barely understand him
Segun disagrees. He wants the pristine version preserved. He is a talent and a spirit. He is not normal so I understand his view and I let him be
I saw him work closely during my Play Our Duke Has Gone Mad Again which he directed. I saw him prance like a cat bringing my life to life. I saw him create, dance, speak and breathe life into my work so I understand his penchant for the nothingness that comes with high talent
But if I am paying , write for me. Simple
Duke recommends it. Go see it. Rating - excellent