FOR theatre lovers in Lagos, the stage play Osamede (for kingdom and country) is on course to make this Yuletide season a memorable one, as preparations are on course for a successful performance. A Gold Lilies production, the well-knit, gripping stage play is scheduled to run from December 25 – 27 at the AGIP Hall, MUSON Centre, Lagos, for 4.00 PM and 7.00 PM daily. Osamede is an amazing story replete with royalty, patriotism, and personal ambitions delivered in grand and outstanding cultural scale typical with the glory of the Benin Kingdom. Blending antiquity and modernity, the musically-infused play passes salient messages to a contemporary audience through a myriad of timeless lessons and exposures to the deep cultural heritage of a people who venerate their god-king.
The cast and crew is equally a mélange of old and new faces in the Nollywood/theatre space featuring the likes of Nobert Young, Patrick Doyle, Paul Adams, Soibifaa Dokubo, Rolake Adesina, Patrick Diabuah and other exceptionally talented cast and crew members who are primed to send the audience to cloud nine this Yuletide season! For the executive producer Lilian Olubi, Osamede is the realization of many years of admiration for the great Benin Kingdom and its unparalleled display of cultural regality.
“I have always had a healthy appreciation for the excellence and beauty of the storied Benin kingdom.” Olubi said adding that, “it is undoubtedly rich in history, costume and tradition and so I consider it fitting to showcase and promote this wealth of culture through the Osamede story which I strongly believe will appeal to both the local and international audiences.”
Speaking further, the finance and investment professional said the storyline speaks to several relevant themes in today’s world, adding, “Our eponymous hero, Osamede is a woman who comes into a heavily patriarchal system and displays immense courage despite the societal limits placed on her. Other overarching themes and values centre around social injustices and dysfunctional strata, nationhood and true leadership.”
Highlighting the reputation of the ancient Benin kingdom where the play is situated, Nollywood veteran Nobert Young said Edo might be a minority in today’s Nigeria but its cultural heritage remains one of the most respected and the best in the world, adding that though every stage play follows a pattern, Osamede possesses some features that make it standout.
According to him, “Edo may be one of the minor tribes in present Nigeria but it’s the greatest tribe in the world! It is the greatest tribe in Africa. It is the greatest tribe in Nigeria. It is and it is one of the most respected monarchies in Africa and in the world today,’’ adding that “this is because the name has somehow been able to preserve its traditional and cultural norms and everything over the years.
“The respect for the Oba is still topnotch. So it might be a small tribe, minority tribe in Nigeria, but worldwide everybody knows the Benin kingdom, especially with the stealing of the artworks in 1897. Everybody wants to see the rich culture of Benin worldwide. And I can guarantee you that Edo people, especially the Bini, when they see that there is a play that has the cultural background of the Edo, they will come out because they respect and love their tradition.”
Another Nollywood veteran Patrick Doyle strongly believes that Osamede has something tangible for everybody because of its diverse thematic exploration that cuts across different strata of the society, noting, “Practically all Bini plays revolve around the royalty. Osamede has the same theme, you know, of where there’s victory over treachery, where the throne is forced to stamp its authority. Because I know that in Benin the throne is very important. And every effort is made in drama to uphold the dignity of the throne. And this is not an exception.
“The drama is relevant to the times because human beings have not changed. The propensity to treachery has not changed since antiquity. And the propensity to engineer the victory of good over evil is timeless. So this play at this time, what it does is, it further reinforces the belief that at the end of the day, good will triumph over evil.
“Because it is a good thing. It is a human story. And it speaks to our situation even right now. It speaks to us at different variations and different levels. And there’s something for everybody that talks about feminism, which is a topical issue even right now. Although the play is situated in a twilight zone of antiquity and modernity, a lot of the functions that are brought forth in this play are based in antiquity. The lessons that you can draw from it are for everybody. The role of females as heroines even in Bini culture exists, for instance, Emotan. So it’s not strange to Bini culture for women to have heroic roles to play in life. So this is just one other story where women can find inspiration to be successful, to be brave and to be courageous. And our men can find inspiration to be less treacherous. So that’s it.”
Osamede (for kingdom and country) is produced and directed by Ayo Ajayi and written by Paul Ugbede and Tosin Otudeko. Tickets are available for sale at http://osamedetheplay.com/