Dele Odule have spent 40 years as an actor in Nigeria and he is not so happy that the stage industry, which he started from, has almost died in the country.
And as such, to mark his 40th year as an actor, Odule who rose through the ranks to become the president of the Theatre Arts and Movie Practitioners Association of Nigeria, told Saturday Beats that he wants to revive a dying culture in the industry.
He said, “In 1997 when I had my first shot on stage as an actor, stage theatre was the rave of the moment at the time and the likes of Hubert Ogunde, Duro Ladipo, Ojo Ladipo, Akin Ogungbe, Oyin Adejobi; the Jesters, Ishola Ogusola Moses Adejumo (Baba Sala) and a host of others dominated the theatre world. Stage, and not television drama, was the order of the day at the time. The aesthetics, flavour and class that went with the stage dramas then made it more appealing to people than television productions. Now 40 years down the lane, the same cannot be said of travelling theatre as it was in the 70s and 80s. Satellite television, home videos and online television have taken over the minds of our viewers. The practitioners do not even have the time and will not risk any resources to go into the stage dramas again. And since the people are not encouraged, they are contented with watching home videos from the comfort of their homes and when they choose to go out to relax, they go to the cinemas to watch more motion picture stuff. This has to change.”
The prolific actor told Saturday Beats that to commemorate his 40 years in the industry, he has gathered about 100 thespians to revive the culture of stage play. Odule said that those involved in the project also include academics like Professor Bakare Ojo Rasaki, a foremost theatre practitioner and first professor of choreography in Nigeria to direct the play, Ojulelekun.
“I have deviated from the normal jamboree and opted for a kind of celebration that will impact positively on the life of the youth and bring about the sustainability of the legacy of our theatre forebears which hitherto had looked like it had gone with them. For about four weeks, I assembled a team of over 100 professionals from both the academia and Yoruba theatre industry. We camped in Ado-Ekiti for the rehearsals of Ojukelekun. The highpoint of this venture was the engagement of Professor Bakare Ojo Rasaki, a foremost theatre practitioner and first professor of choreography in Nigeria to direct the play. The experiences, lesson and knowledge acquired in the last four weeks of our camping exercise will last long in the memory of every individual involved in this project.
“I have also used this project to engage some of our elders in the industry whom hitherto might have been forgotten by many of the film producers, although some of them are still very active in theatre practice. The likes of Ayo Olowojolu are some of our elders in the industry who are not usually engaged. This is an ample opportunity for them to get themselves engaged and refresh their memory in the trade they practiced even when many of the participants of this project were yet unborn. I am equally grateful to my allies and colleagues for standing with me and making themselves part of this history,” Odule said.