By Salamatu Sule
ONE of the aims of children’s theatre is to make the stage a communication tool where children are exposed to character formation through dialogue and made to experience the moral issues of their society. Also, as they benefit from reading books and then enact the characters by performing them on stage, they become well informed, confident and knowledgeable about the day-to-day issues of society.
This was the case as pupils of Springville International School, Asokoro, Abuja, staged the adaptation of Salamatu Sule’s children’s book Oma the Drummer Queen while the secondary school students also performed Wole Soyinka’s The Lion and Jewel. The production had a cast strength of 43 actors who were adorned in beautiful costumes on a colourful stage with good lighting effect.
As is typical of adaptations, a narrative technique was deployed to tell the story of Oma the Drummer Queen. The narrators were Sophia Mohammed and Aisha Ibrahim who played narrators 1 and 2.
In the opening scene, the lead character Aremu (Sadiq Bobboye), a hunter, appears on stage as he returns home with the smallish game he’d caught. His wife Asake is displeased as usual, because her husband‘s game is always small. Aremu is not very good at hunting. The following day, he attempts to solve this problem to please his wife by hunting for a bigger game. However, unknown to Aremu he has gone to hunt on a day it is forbidden to do so in the Kingdom of Ebedi Iseyi. He’s then made to face the consequences of his action. What becomes the fate of Aremu?
The pupils presented a real-life scenario depicting what it means to be a family man who is unable to live up to expectations. They dazzled the audience as they wove oral narrative into the story as well as show magical realism in the form of the wizard that appeared to Aremu.
Springville International School is the first school to stage the adaptation of the book five years after its publication.
After the show, the author Sule canvassed the need to encourage children’s theatre in Nigeria, especially judging from what the pupils demonstrated in the performance of the play. She revealed that a proposal was before the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) to stage the play at this year’s convention as part of plans to encourage children’s books in the Nigerian Writers Series of which Oma the Drummer Queen is an imprint.