THE maiden Abuja International Theatre Festival and Awards is set to kick off in Abuja, Nigeria, on Tuesday, October 31, 2023. The festival has as theme ‘Performing Arts, Peacebuilding and the Society’. It is designed to celebrate diversity, share cultures and experiences and promote peaceful co-existence all over the world through theatre. It is conceived specifically to celebrate the best of theatre, as an international platform where theatre lovers could watch performances, and where artists from all over the world share artistic excellence, innovation and explore the intersections between various theatrical genres.
The opening ceremony, which will be chaired by the former Chief of Army Staff, General T. Y. Buratai (rtd), is expected to also have in attendance the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mr. Nyesom Wike, who will lead other guests, industry players and diplomatic community to the festival opening. The keynote addresses will be delivered by Dike Chukwumerije (Nigeria), Natallia Mallo (Brazil), Alex Borovenskiy (Ukraine) who will each share their thoughts and experiences on the theme of the festival: ‘Performing Arts, Peacebuilding and the Society’.
Guests to the 5-day festival will be entertained to 10 stage shows, beginning with a stage adaptation of Teresa Oyibo Ameh’s novella, The Torn Petal, at the Mambaah Cafe on the opening day on Tuesday, October 31. Other shows include The Alienists, a Machado De Assis novella, adapted for the stage by the Arojah Royal Theatre, AfroDervish performance by Husayn Zaguru on November 1, And Vice Versa by Innervasion Hub, Ask the Almighty by Spurs on Stage and I Confess by Arojah Royal Theatre.
Three international guest performances, Nijinsky from Romania, Who will Sing for Lena from Jamaica/UK and Love at Times from Ukraine. While Nijinsky and Who will Sing for Lena will be staged live at the Brazilian Embassy Theatre, Love at Times will be streamed live from Kyiv, Ukraine.
The festival will also feature a handful of professional programmes, such as workshops and panel discussions. A ‘Playwriting and Acting Masterclasses’ will be curated by Dr. Olympus Ejue of the University of Abuja and Dr. Ola Ifatimehin, a ‘Dance’ workshop by Esther Onwuka, James Arome and Makeda Solomon (Jamaica), ‘The Art of Storytelling’ workshop by Oluwaseun Odukoya (Aunty Shine the Storyteller) and Gertrude Munhamo (Zimbabwe), and ‘Maximising and Monitising Your Arts’ workshop by Husayn Zaguru, Rodney Okeokachie, and Abdul-Rahman Baban Saibo. Also, two panel discussions will focus on ‘Theatre and Livelihood’ with Patrick Otoro of Rivers of Water Production, Dr. Tayo Isijola of the Federal University, Oye-Ekiti, and Dr. Viviane Juguero (Brazil) and an IIAN/ASSITEJ-focused session featuring a panel session on ‘Inclusivity in the Performing Arts’ with Dr. Tosin Tume of the Federal University, Oye-Ekiti.
Founder, Arojah Royal Theatre and Director, Abuja International Theatre Festival and Awards, Mr. Jerry Om’Oba Adesewo
On Wednesday, October 1, 2023, winners of the festival’s various competitive activities will be announced and presented with their awards. Below are the shortlist from each category. For Arojah Student Playwriting Prize, the shortlist include All We Seek by Tobi Oladeji, The Bridge of Oneness by Titilope Mogaji and Bound by Choice by Praise Ebirim. ABITFA Biodun Abe Scenographic Prize has Edet Eset, Mayowa Damilare and Dr. Olusegun Abodunrin. ABITFA/Olalekan Ogunlalu Theatre Bill Prize has Odenigbo by Obizoba Christopher Chibuike, Bolobolo by Ona Eki and Morountodun by Hamidu Adebayo.
A handful of professionals and others in the field of theatre practice have been earmarked to receive special recognition award at the festival. They include the Director-General of National Council for Arts and Culture, Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, the CEO of the National Troupe of Nigeria, Alhaji Ahmed Mohammed Ahmed, veteran playwright and theatre maker, Mr. Ben Tomoloju, CEO of Heritage Africa Village Square, Mr. Moses Ayom, spoken word poet and lawyer, Mr. Dike chukwumerije, scholar and former Commissioner for Culture, Nassarawa State, Hajiya Lantana, Ukrainian theatre maker, Mr. Alex Borovenskiy and former Chief of Army Staff, Buratai, among others
According to Festival Director and founder of Arojah Royal Theatre, Abuja, Mr. Om’Oba Jerry Adesewo, the festival will hold on a yearly basis in the month of November.