ITAN returns, starring Funmi Ajila, Broda Shaggi, others

IT promises to be exciting as the top fashion designer, Funmi Ajila-Ladipo and popular online comedian, Broda Shaggi, join some of the country’s finest stage actors as guest artistes when interesting play, ITAN, The Story, returns this Easter.

Ajila-Ladipo, President of the Fashion Designers Association of Nigeria (FADAN) who used to act back in the day and Shaggi will the 70-person cast of the play including Albert Akaeze, Nissi George, Efe Mayford Orhorha, Omololu Shodiya, Henry Arnold and Omowumi Dada when it opens on April 20 at Agip Hall, MUSON Centre, Onikan, Lagos.

Produced by The Thespian Family Theatre and directed by the company’s founder, Ayo Jaiyesinmi, the repackaged play will run till April 22.

The production, which has toured major Nigerian cities and other countries, is based on cross-generational conflicts prevalent in the modern city/society. An old and lonely recluse and village elder, Pa Latinwo, is shocked to find out that he has a grandson somewhere in the city. He sets off with high hopes to connect with the one person he can call family.

He finds this grandson, Dee-Kay, but rather than acceptance, this city gangster challenges Pa Latinwo’s beliefs and motives. Both rooted firmly in their generational beliefs, get into a bitter scuffle. Asiko, TIME personified, intervenes and takes them on a journey into the past and the future. They both discover dark secrets that have been shrouded by the veil of time. Does this mediation save the day or tear both worlds further apart? The play set to thrill Nigerians next weekend answers this question in a fascinating manner.

Speaking in an interview ahead of the play’s opening, Jaiyesinmi, who founded Thespian Family Theatre 15 years ago, explained why she believes in theatre as a tool for development.

She said, “As I write, my delight is to transport readers into the world I create. But most importantly, it’s one that offers options for real conflicts. To paint these pictures even more vividly, I have produced some of them as plays and followed up with conversations on various platforms. For example, as a Human Resource Professional, I’m very interested in the impact of generational diversity in the community, workplace and family and the emerging future. ‘ITAN the Story’ (Asiko’s quest) is my attempt to capture the impact of cross-generational conflicts and paint a picture of a harmonious communal living whereby each generation, in spite its weaknesses or strengths, gleam off each other. This is laced with strong African culture exhibited in dance, costume, lingo, ceremonies, cuisine and music. But this was still not enough to capture the important conversations across the divide.

Also, my craving for quality modern African stories triggered my collaboration with Comic Republic to create comic characters, comic books and merchandise to tell themed stories and stories that celebrate our culture. In addition to the play, ‘ITAN, The Story’ is expressed as comic book series, flash cards, story books and merchandise. We also plan an animated cartoon series, book buffets and costume parades to tell the story.”

Apart from ‘Itan, The Story’, Jaiyesinmi’s production company has also staged Five Maids of Fadaka’ The Crystal Slipper, Under the Orombo, Beyond the Garb and Mad King of Ijudiya, all written by her.