How Nigeria Became

29 Oct

A Unicorn production


Written and directed by Gbolahan Obisesan

9 October –  9 November 2014
Unicorn Theatre , 147 Tooley Street, London SE1 2HZ

An exceptional play with great acting, humour throughout, wonderful characters and a unique insight into how Nigerian became a country. This production is perfect for half-term. Highly recommended for children over the age of eight, and also for adults who want great theatre entertainment.

How Nigeria Became_Unicorn TheatreThe play is set in 1914, one hundred years ago exactly, and Nigeria is about to be formed. Herbert and his feisty troupe of female actors are preparing to stage a story for the British Governor and his wife.

The story of the Spear of Shango is about a brave young woman who must use her strength and agility to save her father’s kingdom. But there’s a problem, the story doesn’t quite fit with the governor’s vision of a united country…

This lively and vivid comedy offers an original insight into Nigeria’s beginnings in 1914 and commemorates the centenary of Nigeria.

How Nigeria Became is written and directed by the award-winning Gbolahan Obisesan whose directing credits include most recently We Are Proud to Present (Bush Theatre), Pigeon English (Bristol Old Vic/Edinburgh) and Feast (Young Vic). His play Mad About the Boy played at the Unicorn following being awarded a Fringe First for Best Play at the Edinburgh Festival in 2011. Gbolahan also won the Jerwood Directors Award at the Young Vic in 2009 with his acclaimed production Sus.

The cast are Rita Balogun, Tunji Falani, Stephanie Levi-John, Rebecca Omogbehin and Christian Roe.

Set and Costumes designed by Rajha Shakiry
Lighting design by Azusa Ono and sound by Donato Wharton
Movement direction by Diane Alison-Mitchell

For ages 8+
Duration: Approx 1 hr 15 mins


Box Office: 020 7645 0560
Twitter: @unicorn_theatre

Under 21s £10
Concessions £13
Adults £16
School groups of 10+ one teacher free for every 10 pupils
Disabled customers May bring 1 free for carer

10% OFF when you book for two shows.
15% OFF when you book for three shows.
Cannot be booked with a family ticket; must be booked together; cannot be used in conjunction with another offer; excludes previews; subject to availability.
20% OFF when you buy 4 tickets.
(must include at least one Under 21 ticket and one adult ticket, no concessions)




British-Nigerian hit comedy opens in cinemas 10th October!

3 Oct

Gone Too Far!

dir. Destiny Ekaragha

Critically acclaimed comedy opens in cinemas nationwide on 10th October 2014!

Gone Too Far poster

Gone Too Far! tells a quintessentially British-Nigerian story. A must-see, receiving high praise by cinema-goers and the industry.

Named Best New British Comedy at the LOCO London Comedy Film Festival 2014 and dir. Destiny Ekaragha was nominated for Best Newcomer at the BFI London Film Festival in 2013. It was also named Best Independent Film at the influential Screen Nation Awards 2014.

Based on the Olivier Award-winning stage play by Bola Agbaje, first performed at The Royal Court, the warm, sparky Gone Too Far! is the feature debut of director Destiny Ekaragha and follows two estranged teenage brothers over the course of a single day as they meet for the first time, and struggle to accept each other for who they are.

GTF_Destiny_and_Bola_Production_shotWhen London teenager Yemi’s big brother Iku comes to live with him from Nigeria, his terrible fashion sense, broad Yoruba accent and misplaced confidence with the opposite sex threaten to destroy Yemi’s already limited street cred.

But when they’re forced to spend the day together on their Peckham estate, Yemi is forced to confront local bullies, the girl of his dreams and his own African heritage, and eventually together they learn the values of family and self-respect.

“Low-key, low-budget, high-intelligence, this is precisely the kind of film London ought to be producing.” **** Tom Huddleston, Time Out

Gone Too Far film clip imageThe film features an exciting and up and coming cast, including Malachi Kirby (Offender, My Brother The Devil) and Nigerian actor O.C. Ukeje, currently appearing in Half of a Yellow Sun alongside Chiwetel Ejiofor. Also starring are Shanika Warren-Markland (Adulthood,; Tosin Cole (Second Coming, Hollyoaks); Adelayo Adedayo (Some Girls); Golda John and comedian and presenter Eddie Kadi.

Check out the photos from the amazing film premiere!

Gone too far (27)Gone Too Far PremiereGone too far (24)

You think you know Fela, you have no idea!

10 Sep


dir. by Academy Award Winner Alex Gibney 

Out now in cinemas across the UK

Out of Africa review by Agnes Kuye


Finding Fela Dogwoof Documentary 6Finding Fela is a must see documentary depicting Fela Kuti’s life brilliantly narrated by family, friends, business associates and all who loved him. From Fela’s youth days growing up in church to performing with his band Koola Lobitos, Africa & 70 and then Egypt 80. Featuring fantastic unseen footage and visuals of  Fela on his spiritual and political music journey  through life .

Fela Kuti is an important part of Nigeria’s history often relentless and unafraid of his oppressors. A true man of the people, the more he was chastised the more powerful his music became. From the portrayal of the legendary  AFRO beat musician  it is easy to see he was 30/40 years ahead of his time.

Throughout the documentary I felt I was on an emotional roller coaster  often comical, immensely  sad at times, angry but mostly empowered and  proud .

There are some great narrations from Seun, Yeni & Femi kuti, Ghariokwu  Lemi, Rick Stein, Tony Allen, Dele Sosimi, Sandra Izsadore and many  more.

Finding Fela Dogwoof Documentary 7AFRO beat is protest music, we all know this but Finding Fela gives you true meaning  to when, where and why  these iconic songs were birthed.

I am a die hard Fela fan and I was amazed at this in-depth,  powerful  and profound film.

MUSIC IS FOR REVOLUTION!!!  The long list of FELA’s music documented in the film can make any musician feel inadequate. Classical African music is my preferred terminology for Fela Kuti’s music as revealed  in the film.

Fela is our Hero and Legend, the greatest musician to come out of AFRICA.

You don’t have to be a Fela fan or even know Fela’s music to see this film. MUSIC  IS THE WEAPON

Fela Kuti – Reference Links


Benin Rebellion at Lagos Fashion and Design Week

31 Oct

REBELLION Spring/Summer ’14
by Nkwo

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**Photo Credits: Kola Oshalusi (Insigna).
As seen at GTB Lagos Fashion & Design Week 2013

REBELLION by Nkwo is inspired by the great Kingdom of Benin, which was founded with a rebellion and fell with a rebellion…

The kingdom was well known for its artisans, particularly the bronze casters of Igun Street, who produced some of the finest bronze work in the world.

Unfortunately, most of the bronzes were ‘plundered’ by the British after the fall of the empire in 1897. The argument for the reparation of this great body of work goes on…

The Bronze Casters Guild of Benin City can still be found on Igun Street today and is now a World Heritage Site.

By taking the most iconic of the Benin bronzes, the Mask and fusing it with the most rebellious of the fashion tribes, the Punk, we created a look that is entirely new and fresh and we call it ‘B-Punk’.

Our signature draped jersey was hand dyed in the colours that are representative of the culture, history and architecture of the Benin empire – the coral beads, the blood that was shed during the rebellion and the slate that was used for the roofing of the houses in the incredibly well formed streets. We then gave it a punk make over with our safety pin and hard metal embellishments on our dresses, belts and up-cycled denim.

The entire collection was made in Benin City. We wanted to work directly with the artisans, the bronze casters and the leather makers, but we also wanted to put the traditional hand crafting methods to the test.

A big thank you to Omoyemi Akerele and the LFDW team, to our stylist Crystal Deroche Styling, to Lola Maja-Okojevoh for our great make-up and to all the models, especially Kelvin, who was man enough to wear a dress!!!

For more information about Nkwo and images of the full collection – visit –

A Love Themed Night of Somali Poetry, Stories and Music!

3 Jun

NITRO THEATRE in Partnership with KAYD Somali Arts and Culture presents:

A Love Themed Night of Somali Poetry, Stories and Music!


In celebration of the rich heritage of Somali love-themed poetry, music and prose, and to introduce Nitro’s upcoming production set on the coast of Somalia which recently rehearsed at the National Theatre’s Studio as part of Nitro’s TALES FROM THE EDGE, Nitro theatre in Partnership with Kayd present an evening featuring the cream of Somali artists and talent in the UK plus readings of Nitro’s new play. Artists on the night include:

AAR MAANTA + Full live band //

AAR MAANTA + Full Live Band!
ALI GOOLYAD (De Gabay Poet)

Interview with FELIX CROSS MBE + OLADIPO AGBOLUAJE and extracts from NITRO’S new play set on the coast of Somalia + PRINCE ABDI hosts

With lots more of the best British Somali Talent

£7 Adv Tickets –


Oh Caashaq Flyer


What do George Michael and Malawi have in common?

21 Feb

Ovalhouse and Bilimankhwe Arts present: Love On Trial

Adapted by Roe Lane from the story by Stanley Kenani

At Ovalhouse London until February 23rd 2013
Tickets and information at this link –

Out of Africa review

A half-full bottle of Malawi Gin and a battered armchair resting on sand  are lit by warm orange light, until the silence is broken by the unmistakeably 80s opening bars of George Michael’s Faith.

So opens “Love on Trial” at Ovalhouse, adapted from the short story by Caine Prize nominee Stanley Kenani. When a local drunk stumbles across protagonist Charles Chikwanje and his lover in the toilets of Chipiri Primary School, Charles is arrested under the Malawian penal code for ‘unnatural offences’ and ‘indecent practices between males’. The play interposes illegal homosexuality in Malawi with George Michael’s arrest in 1998 for ‘engaging in a lewd act’ in a public toilet in Los Angeles. The parallels are clear and the piece explores a hysterical prejudice and media hypocrisy which isn’t confined to Africa.

Most of the script is Kenani’s powerful prose, spoken by the single actor Bailey Patrick who plays the parts of narrator and Charles, as well of interrogators, commentators and friends. Patrick has a background in stand-up comedy and as he performs in the round he calls on the audience, and effortlessly moves between the accents and gestures of this cast of characters.

He is accompanied by snatches of voice over and news footage and his props are stick men figures cut from newspaper which are hung around him. These stick men become central onlookers, who become the crowds which gather as Charles ‘story spreads like oil poured on a sheet of white paper’. And, when he is interviewed on national television Patrick jiggles them on their string in excitement, in a moment which draws a laugh from the audience, but is also an expression of sinister energy. These humorous elements are expressed wonderfully by Patrick as he circumnavigates the intimate stage.

Director and Writer Roe Lane is an accomplished young talent who draws on her own upbringing in Malawi in this artful retelling. Stanley Kenani flew in from Geneva for the opening night at Ovalhouse and called Love on Trial ‘a marvellous adaptation’. Asked what he thought of the juxtaposition of George Michael’s story with his own, he told Out of Africa: ‘I don’t think anyone could have interpreted it better…the messaging came out picture perfect.’

The production was commissioned as part of the Counterculture 50 season at Ovalhouse which aims to be a ‘theatrical incubator of a more politically-engaged performance future’. In this urgent, engaged and thoroughly enjoyable piece they have succeeded in that and more.

Written by Grace Benton

A Feast of Yoruba Culture

12 Feb


Directed by Rufus Norris

A Young Vic and Royal Court Theatre co-production

At the Young Vic London, until 2nd March 2013

Young_Vic_Feast_002Photograph Feast company –  Richard Hubert Smith

From 18th-century Nigeria to present-day London via Brazil, the USA and Cuba, Feast at the Young Vic tells the story of Yoruba culture across three continents and three hundred years.

The play is directed by award-winner Rufus Norris (London Road, Death and the King’s Horsemen) and the script is a collaboration between five international playwrights – Yunior Garcia Aguilera (Cuba), Rotimi Babatunde (Nigeria), Marcos Barbosa (Brazil), Tanya Barfield (USA) and Gbolahan Obiesan (UK). It is the tale of the endurance of the Yoruba faith and culture, and of the crafting of diaspora identities.

The show’s music and movement provide the dramatic energy and create a powerful sense of time and place. Lysander Ashton’s projections dance across a beaded curtain as the ensemble cast move in and out of view. In an early scene the names of slaves scrawled on a ship’s register float on water and the outlines of bodies, as live music mixes with the sounds of sea and sand to take us on the journey from West Africa to the plantations of the New World. Throughout, the writing and music are woven with Yoruba words, sounds and proverbs and the staging echoes the trickery of the deity Esu.

The collaboration which is at the heart of the production is also, at times, its weakness. There is a certain disjointedness in the format and the strands never quite come together. At its best the writing is energetic and quick-witted, as in the sisterly banter which introduces the three protagonists Yemaja, Oshun and Oya. Nanaa Agyei-Ampadu as Oshun shines in this scene and others – and with Louis Mahoney (Papa Legba) she is among the most versatile of the performers. In other moments the dialogue and acting verge on self-conscious and we begin to feel like we are being lectured. The scene in 21st century London feels stiff and unnatural, although the bawdy humour gets the biggest laughs of the night.

Some of the more interesting themes are raised in passing but left unexplored. There are lines which hint at how African cultures can be romanticised, or fetished, including by those of African heritage. Aguilera’s standout Cuba scene comes closest to engaging with these intercultural questions when Yemaya  (Noma Dumezweni) asks ‘Who do you think I am, Pocahontas?’ and American tourist John Smith (Daniel Cerqueira) frantically explains, while cowering under a table, that he is not prejudiced because he voted Obama.

The constituent parts of Feast may not make an entirely satisfactory whole but the production certainly takes us on a visually striking journey and succeeds in telling the epic story of Yoruba culture. One is left with a real sense of the diverse talents who have come together in the performance.

 Written by Grace Benton
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