LBHF 2015 | Festival Message
NEWS of an impending visit by the historic Globe Theatre in England was a major factor in LBHF’s decision to prolong its break from the geography based thematic series - The Black in the Mediterranean Blue - on which the Festival embarked in 2012. The visit of a famed professional theatre seemed too good an opportunity to miss for calling attention to the yet impoverished local status of Theatre. Thus, for this year’s edition, it was decided to centre activities around – DRAMA!
Alas, we were not to know that the real-life drama of the Nigerian elections would be extended by a full month, compelling the Festival’s shift of dates in turn. Our expected collateral harvest of attention through immediacy is somewhat diminished. Nonetheless, we still hope that the passage of these professionals, will linger as the Festival picks up the gauntlet, even a month later. It should at least invigorate interest in the theatrical arts, underlining the practical challenges with which the home-grown version has to contend in virtually every aspect of dramatic presentation.
This year’s excursion into Drama as central theme does however offer a special contribution to the artistic trail blazed by these visitors. Its format was inspired by an increasing awareness of the need to bring theatre closer to the people, not merely confine it to predictable, albeit efficiently structured venues. Directors were selected, then encouraged to scout for optional spaces that they find most appropriate to their choice of plays – bare spaces, night clubs, open pavilions etc. - thus weaning drama of domination by ‘congenial confinement.’ Freedom Park will therefore constitute only one of this year’s drama venues, though without abandoning its role as the hub of the Festival.
Other activities include the pilot edition of the Mentor/Protégé project. Experienced hands in the sub-disciplines of the Dramatic Arts – playwriting, acting, directing, technical theatre, dance-drama etc. – have been invited to mentor one aspiring theatre practitioner each, in a learning collaboration lasting six weeks. At the end of this period, protégés will showcase their projects. This, we hope, will become a regular feature, not only in Drama but in other Arts disciplines. Interested audiences will be permitted to observe some of this aspect of “passing the baton”, a condensed exercise in what is also known as apprenticeship, or passing on skills – in short, a mission is to preserve a continuity of experience in specialized skills.
This year also, the Festival will pay homage to one of the Nigerian theatre veterans with a wide experience of the stage both abroad and in Nigeria, and who has been a source of inspiration to a whole generation of theatre artistes. If even a small measure of professional discipline has succeeded in penetrating the glut of video drama in what is now known as ‘Nollywood’, it is only thanks to this artiste who will be our Guest in the MEET THE ARTISTE series.
And then - a different kind of preservation – starring the Veteran of veterans, the late Hubert Ogunde who will be the subject of an Exhibition. New generation enthusiasts and those who simply wish to stroll down memory lane can look forward to browsing through the memorabilia of the indisputable pioneer of Nigerian theatre. Whenever the expressions ‘Folk theatre’, ‘Folk Opera’, ‘Traveling Theatre’ etc. are uttered, the image that springs to mind throughout West Africa is – Hubert Ogunde.
The other partnering pillars that uphold the Heritage Week continue to surpass expectations. The Boat Regatta waits yet again to light up the lagoon that gave name to the City of Waters, while the Street Carnival constantly re-invents itself in the capacity to dazzle and inebriate with its cocktail of extravagant Costuming, Music and Design through the streets of Lagos. Not to be missed of course, is the now ritual opening - the Masquerade Parade. This year, we give pride of place to Masquerades exclusively from the partnering City -- Badagry.
Ever mindful of the entitlement of the upcoming generation, and to remind the adult world of the brimful of talent that ensures artistic continuity and innovation, as well as imparting early understanding of Art as an expression of life itself with all its joys, anguish, triumphs and challenges - LBHF continues its quest of The Vision of the Child. This year, there is a small innovation. Instead of just one medium, Painting, the Festival has invited the expression of that vision in a duofold encounter – Word, and - Image. Seeking to enhance the powers of observation and representation, children are being encouraged to express themselves annually on a chosen theme – drawn from the entire gamut of life and surrounding phenomena. For this year, 2015, the selected theme is: The Road to Sambisa. – Wole Soyinka, Festival Consultant.