Nigerian-British actor Olatunji Joseph is set to stage his play in Lagos, Nigeria. The 25-year-old actor who is currently in Nigeria to take part in the annual Lagos Theatre Festival, Nigeria’s largest performing arts festival, will in his play explore what it means to be black in the white-dominated West.
Titled Whiteboard, Black pieces: Race in the west, the unique play answers posers on what it means to be black in a predominantly white environment or if it is one of pain, suffering and confusion?
Born of a Nigerian father and a British mother, Joseph said staging the play in Nigeria after the successful premiere in the UK means so much to him.
“It means a lot to be staging my play in Nigeria, it is a physicalisation of my thoughts and ideas coming to life. I never imagined I would have done two runs of my show in London let alone a third run here in Nigeria,” he said.
With a black chair, few props and his lone self, the graduate of St. Mary’s University, Twickenham, UK is happy to be shining light on a difficult subject many hardly want to talk about.
“I feel happy because by writing this play, I have started a discourse on a taboo subject: race, racism, and mixed relationships,” Joseph said.
Not sure how the play will be received by the Nigerian audience, the London-based actor is going into the play with no preconceived notion.
“To be honest I’m not sure how the audience will receive, I don’t want to have any preconceived notions about how the audience will respond. As an actor, it is best for me to go into the show expect nothing, that way I have to earn absolutely every reaction I get from the audience”, said the actor.
Nigeria has a diversity problem just like Joseph’s shared country of heritage and he is hoping that Nigeria can have honest conversations about its diversity rather than shy away from it.
“The thing Nigeria can learn about diversity from my show is this: open and honest can help us all progress,” he said.
While Joseph hopes the play stirs up the necessary conversations, the Croydon-based actor says his expectations while in Nigeria is to feel the enthusiasm of the growing theatre audience in the country.
“My main expectations for the Lagos Theatre Festival is to be surrounded by enthusiastic theatre lover’s who are prepared to watch thrilling and alive Theatre.
During his stay in Nigeria, Joseph will also be teaching at acting workshops where he hopes to share his experience with other budding actors and compare notes with established ones.
The Arts Educational Schools master’s graduate plans to put pen on paper for his next move which to writing and filming scripted content for his YouTube channel.
The Lagos Theatre Festival was founded by the British Council in 2013 to strengthen relationships between Nigerian and British artists through the presentation of high quality Nigerian and British theatre.
The 7th edition of the Lagos Theatre Festival will be held in Lagos from the 27th of February to the 1st of March, 2020. It will explore the theme, ‘Going out of Bounds’. LTF 2020 will feature over 120 events – drama, opera, dance, musical performances, concerts, spoken word performances etc., and will be held in various venues across Lagos.