Nigerian notable scientist; Professor Temitayo Shokunbi, National Merit award winners Professor A. Falase and Professor Niyi Osundare, and Nobel Laurette Professor Wole Soyinka; what do all these men have in common you ask? They all attended the prestigious University of Ibadan, in fact, the latter even has the University theatre named after him.
With all these achievements, a lot of expectations was in the air when the MTN Foundation crew touched base in Ibadan for the final leg of its Theatre for School competition. When the four participating secondary schools were visited during their final rehearsals, the MTNF crew saw a lot of dedication and commitment to the project; the students were either singing, dancing or memorising their lines as if their lives depended on it.
A chat with Emmanuel Orisunmibare, the Theatre For Schools coordinator in U.I, revealed that the cast and crew of the various participating schools had been changed repeatedly because parents didn’t see the entire point of theatre. For him, the entire competition is personal; ”My dad was not happy about my course of study, he always wanted me to be a medical doctor, I was a science student growing up, but I have always wanted to be an actor, the theatre is where I find solace. So I really appreciate this initiative by MTN, we need more of its kind in the country.”
The assignment for the kids – adapting Langa Langa and His Adventures, a play written by Solomon Iguanre was finally ‘brought to life’ on stage the following day. The four participating secondary schools: International School Ibadan, St. Louis Grammar School, Concord Secondary Ibadan and Idikan Secondary School competed for the place of the winner of the Western region, to participate in the nationals alongside winners of other regions in the country.
The students became tense when they heard that they had strong contenders in other regions competing in the national Theatre For Schools competition, but they soon calmed down after the former Honourable Commissioner for Information, Culture & Tourism, Oyo state, Toye Arulogun, himself an alumni of UI’s Theatre Arts faculty, ‘gingered’ them with his own acting experience while in the school. He also expressed his commendation and appreciation to the MTN Foundation, stating that it is his belief that “Nigerians can survive on these four things; knowledge, entertainment, technology and the arts.”
It was a thrilling experience indeed!
Solomon Iguanre himself watched the students perform like a hawk and clapped thunderously after each school performance. The winner, who will be competing with other winners from the north and the east in Lagos for the ultimate crown, is Idikan Secondary School. Now we can’t wait for the finals in Lagos.