Theatre Etiquette: 13 Dos and Don’ts

There’s always that one person at the theatre that makes you go:

drakeconfused
Like, really?

Whether it’s the girl with the obnoxious ringtone or that guy with the witty – but only in his head – comebacks for every line of dialogue. We know them only too well. Here’s how to avoid being one of those people.

  1. DO arrive early. We know, we know, because of ‘African Time’ nothing ever starts at the advertised time here in Nigeria. But maybe we can start to change this culture in small ways. Plus, on that one day when someone decides to start a show on time, you don’t want to be on the receiving end of the hisses and evil glares that are sure to come your way as you try to find a seat minutes into the performance.
  2. DO put them gadgets away. Phones, tablets, music players, watches with alarms: keep them on silent or, better yet, turn them off. Apart from the noises that these things make, the glare from some screens is like Lagos sunlight. Please spare the audience and the performers the distraction. You really don’t have to like Onome’s on-fleek eyebrows on Instagram right away, and surely you can wait an hour or two before sliding into Demilade’s DMs. And that person that likes to call every fifteen minutes to stalk check on you – be it Bae or Daddy or Pastor Loveday – call them before the show and let them know you’ll be unreachable for a while. They will be alright.
  3. DON’T use flash photography. We know how much you love to take one photo – or ten – for the ’gram, but the flashing light from your phone or camera can distract the performers and other audience members. Also, filming is usually not allowed in theatre productions. If you’re uncertain about this, ask a person in charge (see why you should arrive early?). And if they say you can’t film, please respect this and do as you’ve been told.
  4. DO avoid moving around during the show. Use the bathroom, fix your make-up, make that end-of-the-world-urgent phone call before the show begins and save the other audience members the trouble of having to make room for you to shuffle out in the middle of the performance. Also, with some productions, the performers may enter or exit the stage using the aisles or doors. You wouldn’t want to be that guy who bumps into Chief Ajanlekoko Agbabiaka and his retinue of praise-singers as they make their way onstage.
  5. DO tame your big hair. It’s never fun being the one seated behind that person with big hair, especially if the venue doesn’t have sloping floors and amphitheatre-style seating. If you’re wearing big hair, try holding it down with a head-tie or a scarf. Also, do kindly leave the elaborate hats and head gear at home.
  6. DON’T heckle. Maybe you don’t know this, but performers have feelings too. So he’s not a Bimbo Manuel and she’s not a Joke Silva; still, try not to shout ‘you suck’ – or its semantic equivalents – at the stage. You can give the performer a piece of your mind after the show.
  7. DO keep the talking to a minimum. During the show isn’t the best time to predict the next plot twist or share your opinion on who would have played the lead role best. Anything besides the occasional reaction to the events in the play or quick and quiet comments to your neighbour can wait until after the show.
  8. This one’s for the Lovebirds: We know you’re gaga for each other, and we have absolute faith that your love will last for all eternity. But while you’re at the theatre, DO try as much as possible not to lean your heads close together. You are not conjoined twins, and the warm glow of your love will not be enough to comfort the unfortunate soul behind you whose view will be blocked by your joined heads. We know you heard that two heads are better than one, but this is one of those rare instances where they’re really not.
  9. DO keep them young’uns on a leash. Yeah, your kids are heartbreakingly cute and we sure know it. But nobody wants to watch them play hide and seek in-between the seats or listen to them whine or cry or say the darndest things, at least not while the show is on. If the kids get disruptive, take them out of the hall. Better yet, consider leaving them at home if the show isn’t for kids.
  10. DON’T fall asleep during the performance. We realise that in the dark it might be difficult to tell the theatre hall apart from your bedroom, but please try. And if you must fall asleep, for the love of God, do not snore.
  11. DON’T invade the personal space of other audience members. This includes leaning into your neighbour, hogging armrests and legroom and bumping or shaking the seat in front of you.
  12. DON’T eat noisy or strong-smelling foods or slurp drinks. Nothing is more annoying, really.
  13. DON’T litter. Not in the theatre hall, not anywhere.

So there’s my list. What annoying audience behaviour have you witnessed at theatres, and what etiquette rules have you broken yourself? Don’t worry, we won’t judge. Or maybe just a little.

-Uche Okonkwo (@ucheanne)

 

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Ahmed Yerima’s ‘Tuti’ This Month at Terra Kulture

Tuti

Ahmed Yerima’s Tuti returns to the stage this month at Terra Kulture.

Tuti’s visit to her father must be worth it. This time, she wants answers; answers to questions that have plagued her life for over 30 years…

She wants to know how her childhood hero turned into a villain as she confronts her father in this no-holds-barred conversation.

One of Professor Ahmed Yerima’s most outstanding plays, Tuti is a story of estrangement and redemption. There is more to every story than meets the eye, and this thought-provoking play invites us to consider those hidden whys that we might never be privy to.

Date: Sundays, 17, 24, 31 January 2016
Time: 3 PM & 6 PM
Venue: Terra Kulture, Tiamiyu Savage Street, Victoria Island, Lagos
Tickets: N3,500 (Regular), N,5000 (Premium Seats)
*Participate to win free Spa Sessions on Premium Seats purchase.

Powered by 1000 Stories Production and Theatre@Terra, and proudly supported by Glittering Health Beauty and Majmua Theatre.

For enquiries, please contact: 08166503558, 07035395187, 0703 1391438.

Love Is – The Musical

Love Is

Produced by Limitless Minds Africa, Love Is is a story about love told through music, drama, poetry and film.

Created and directed by Ice Nweke, the musical is “An intimate and taut portrait of three lives, three women on a journey in search of the answer to the question, ‘WHAT IS LOVE?’ ”

Love Is has been staged in various forms over the past few years, and this February it comes to us yet again, with a stellar cast of artistes that includes Yinka Davies, Timi Dakolo, KayStrings and others. To find out more about Love Is, visit the show’s website.

Date:  Friday, 5 February 2016
Time: Red carpet/cocktail – 6 PM
Performance – 7 PM
Venue: Eko Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos
Tickets: N10,000 (sold at Eko Hotel)

 

 

Theatre Review: Wakaa the Musical

Running time: 2 hours 30 minutes

Wakaa the musical.jpg

Wakaa tells the story of four friends and their attempts at finding their feet after university. The play opens with a graduation ceremony from Emeritus University. Tosan, Ngozi, Kike and Rex, excited and hopeful, talk about their plans now that they are done with school. Kike, armed with ‘Daddy’s black card’, is going off to New York to shop and feed her hedonistic nature. Rex has plans to dump his medical degree and set up dance schools in Lagos and London. Tosan seems set for a life of public service and Saint Ngozi soon begins running a community centre for children. As the story progresses we watch these four characters navigate life on the different paths that they have chosen.

I watched Saro, the first show by BAP Productions, and I gushed about it here, and to anyone who would listen. And so when I first heard about Wakaa I was super excited. I had such high expectations for this show, but for me Wakaa was a huge let down.

I will start with the story. Being a writer and a reader, I find that a sense of story and character development is quite important. Even though this is a musical, I don’t think it’s enough to have bright lights and razzle dazzle and no strong story to back it up. It felt almost like the songs and dance routines were composed first, and only then was there an attempt to write a story around the music and dance performances. The four main characters were lacking development or any kind of nuance or complexity, and half the time it was unclear to me what their motivation was. While Tosan is straight-laced to the point of being a cardboard cutout, Ngozi is the bland goody-two-shoes, and Rex is the bad boy rebel whose stance I can’t quite understand. Kike, however, is the character who makes the least sense to me. Somehow this vain, spoiled rich girl (who breaks up with Tosan only to reunite with him after realising he’s attained a position in government), without any conflict or evolution that we can see, suddenly is no longer the materialistic self-centred person we know. Suddenly love becomes enough for her, when she’s been shown to be all about a life of luxury? How? Tosan worries about her excessive spending and wastefulness, and they have a minor disagreement over it, but this is the only conflict we find between this romantic couple who are different in so many ways. How do they reconcile these differences and manage to stay together? This question is never even addressed. There’s also the disturbing fact that Kike seems to have no discernible goals or ambitions of her own, which seems like a waste of such a feisty character. Also, I found it very unsatisfying that the two contenders for the governorship election are basically two clichés: the poorly educated, poorly spoken agbada-wearing politician who speaks the language of the people and gives them stomach infrastructure, versus the Obahiagbon-type contender spewing unintelligible nonsense designed to dazzle his audience. The brief exploration of Nigeria’s political space in this show lacks imagination and subtlety, and in some ways I feel like this musical might have worked better as some kind of parody. Even the names of the parties – Generating Party of Nigeria and Brainy Party of Nigeria – are straight out of a parody.

The music, to me, felt contrived. There are so many musical numbers thrown in that they began to feel like a distraction. For the first hour or so it seems like every few lines is followed by a musical number, with songs ranging from D’Banj’s ‘Mo Gbona Feli Feli’ to Adele’s ‘Hello’. And speaking of sound in general, I felt like there was something really wrong with the sound engineering and I hope they get it right for subsequent shows. The instruments were jarring, and the actors’ vocals came out really bad. If I hadn’t seen these actors in other performances I would have concluded based on Wakaa that they were bad singers. There are also one or two pointless dance sequences; for example, where they had the marching soldiers, which looked nice but served no purpose. There was this young boy, though, whose voice was a pleasant surprise.

Whatever the failings of this show in my mind, I cannot fault the cast. Patrick Diabuah has been brilliant in everything I’ve seen him; Arese Emokpae delivered a great performance. Otunba (played by Bimbo Manuel) and his wife were stellar, and so were Ozzy Agu as Prof Jojoba and Dolapo Oni as Cassandra. The dancers were breathtaking and their energy was palpable. The costumes and props were also really good. I just feel like there wasn’t a good enough story or character exploration to allow the actors and the roles they played to really shine through.

I must say, based on the audience’s reaction, that I’m probably in the minority. Most people seemed to have really enjoyed themselves at the show, and there were several cheers and a spontaneous standing ovation. But as much as I wanted to be, I just wasn’t sold on Wakaa. Is the show dazzling? Yes. Is it entertaining? In a sense, yes, if you think of it as a dance show. But if you have an appreciation for story and character exploration you will find little satisfaction here. The music felt forced and the sound was poor; the story offered no character development or complexity.

So should you go see Wakaa? If a good story and memorable characters are important to you, you might be disappointed. But if you’ll be happy singing along to current Naija hits and watching really good dancers work it on stage, Wakaa just might be for you.

-Uche Okonkwo (@ucheanne)

 

Theatre Review: Kakadu the Musical

Running time: 2 hours 45 minutes

Kakadu the musical

Set in Lagos in the 1960s, Kakadu tells the story of a newly independent Nigeria, as witnessed through the lives of a group of young friends – Emeka, Kola, Bisi, Dapo, Osahon, Amonia, Hassana . The eponymous Kakadu is a popular bar/nightclub where Lagosians flock to at night to let loose, enjoy vibrant music and dance their worries away.

When the play opens, we see Emeka and Kola playing a game of draughts. The two quickly get into a heated debate about the state of the young Nigeria, with Emeka echoing the sentiments of his British boss, a Mr Ramsbottom, who believes that Nigeria’s independence came too soon, before the country was ready. Kola disagrees, claiming that Ramsbottom and his people are Nigeria’s real problem. Osahon, a friend of Emeka and Kola and a newcomer to Lagos, joins them and the discussion shifts to the city and Osahon’s fascination with it. They are joined by yet another friend, Dapo, a suave, smooth-talking rich boy, and all four make plans to head for Kakadu that night.

The next scene shows the young women Amonia, Bisi and Hassana at the hair salon. They talk about the guys they have their eyes on and it becomes quickly clear that Bisi and Emeka have a thing for each other. At Kakadu later that night the music is pumping and the friends are high on life. We meet Lord Lugard, the owner of the club, whose origin nobody seems sure of (some say he is a Saro, a descendant of freed slaves). At the end of the night Osahon is left drunk and dazzled by the spectacle that is Kakadu. He cannot wait for the independence anniversary celebration that Lugard had announced.

The Independence Day celebration opens with a blast and the people are ready for a night of limitless fun. But as the night progresses there is a disruption. A military coup has been announced and an immediate curfew imposed. The people disperse. As the crisis in the country worsens, Amonia and Emeka have to leave Lagos for the east of Nigeria; tensions between Igbos and other ethnic groups have heighten and Lagos is no longer safe. Bisi and Emeka are torn apart, and it is uncertain if their love will survive the war.

There’s a lot to like about the show Kakadu. I think the story starts a bit slow, but it does pick up and it delivers. The story goes way beyond the confines of the club Kakadu, where most of the scenes are set. The show is like a historical portrait of Nigeria; plus it’s about the city of Lagos, and it’s also a story about love. I would have liked to see a gradual build-up of tension before the coup, so that the announcement of the coup at Kakadu on the night of the independence celebration doesn’t seem to come out of nowhere. Perhaps this was a deliberate choice, to show that the coup seemed to have come out of nowhere for those people immersed in Lagos life. Still, I think that a slow heightening of tension leading up to that night would have served the story better.

There was a bit of a problem with the sound; some of the mikes seemed to not work properly or weren’t loud enough, so that the instruments often drowned out the actors’ vocals, especially in the early part of the show. This didn’t take too much away from my enjoyment of the performances, though, and the actors were still able to shine through. Hopefully this issue has been fixed by now (I saw the very first show).

The costumes, hairstyles and dances are brilliant and evoked the swinging sixties. The music is also a big selling point for the show, with gems such as ‘Can’t Hurry Love’, ‘Omo Pupa’, ‘Baby Jowo’, ‘Sawaleh’, ‘If You Marry Taxi Driver’ and many others. My favourite number was ‘Crossroads’ which was sung by a large group from the cast, including Emeka and Bisi, just as the war was about to begin. Emeka’s vocal performance was outstanding.

Much as I enjoyed the show, I have a major gripe: there was no curtain call for my show, even though I and a few others sat waiting to see the cast. It also doesn’t help that we didn’t get brochures for the production, and so I do not know the cast of Kakadu. They are new to me and I’d have liked to know their names and who played what character.

Still, I had a good time watching Kakadu, and I recommend seeing it.

-Uche Okonkwo (@ucheanne)

‘Jungle Justice’ at Terra Kulture

Jungle Justice

Femi Branch’s Jungle Justice will be showing at Terra Kulture on 3 and 10 January 2016. Directed by Joshua Alabi, Jungle Justice is a courtroom comedy with a host of unforgettable characters. The play satirizes the craziness that is typical of Nigeria, in a setting that demands the height of seriousness and solemnity.

Date: 3 & 10 January 2016
Time: 3 PM & 6 PM
Venue: Terra Kulture, Tiamiyu Savage Street, Victoria Island, Lagos

Get discounted tickets on Dealdey.

 

‘Hear Word’ is Back!

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If you still haven’t seen this play yet, you really need to hear word!

Produced and directed by Ifeoma Fafunwa, Hear Word is a delightful yet thought-provoking examination of women in Nigerian society: their struggles and triumphs, and the many oppressions, subtle and otherwise, that they have to overcome.

I had the chance to watch Hear Word last year, and I was impressed with the concept as well as its execution. The ideas were delivered with depth and humour, and the actors worked very well together. Of course, one would expect no less with theatre greats like Joke Silva, Omonor and Taiwo Ajai-Lycett on the cast, but I was pleasantly surprised Ufuoma McDermott who was making her stage debut.

Long story short, Hear Word was definitely a good experience for me and I highly recommend it.

Dates: 24 – 27 December

Times: 2 PM (26, 27 December only), 7 PM (24 – 27 December)

Venue: Muson Centre, Onikan, Lagos

Tickets will be available at the door.