THE STRONG BREED
Synopsis: One of the best known plays by Wole Soyinka, The Strong Breed is a tragedy that ends with an individual sacrifice for the sake of the communal benefit. The play is centered on the tradition of egungun, a Yoruba festival tradition in which a scapegoat of the village carries out the evil of the community and is exiled from the civilization. Eman, the play’s protagonist, takes on the role of “carrier”, knowing it will result in beating and exile. He does this to spare a young simpleton the same fate. The ritual takes an unexpected turn as Eman flees. His pursuers set a trap for him that results in his death. The play was first published in London in 1964 by Oxford University Press, and subsequently by Rex Collings in 1971.
(Director’s Note: It tells the story of a young man, Eman, who fled a family tradition of symbolic sacrifice to an unnamed village with a similar tradition of sacrificing a carrier annually as a way of purifying the land of previous year’s evil,for reason of approaching the new year with a sense of purification and rejuvenation. Eventually recognising that it is better to choose his destiny rather than live it, Eman undertakes the task of substituting himself with the apparent carrier, Ifada. A prevailing theme in the play is choice, cynicism and hypocrisy. While Eman struggled between his individual will to live and his destiny as a carrier we see the cynical and hypocritical nature of the community and how ideologies are readily manipulated at whim. These hypocrisies still prevail in the society today. Like Eman, many of us are victims to the twisted, self-obsessed ideologies we consume and adopt and we are manipulated by the people who run the society because they do so in a way that makes us believe we have a choice. Due to the pandemic, I am adopting the virtual space for this theatre production with the intention of preserving the live experience
– Kesiena C. Obue, director
Producer: KESSAVIER VANILLE PRODUCTIONS:
An arts, culture and entertainment company in Lagos, its traditional business model is to promote African arts, culture and entertainment through film, television and stage productions. “We seek to shape our own narrative and tell our own story, through our own eyes and in our own voice. We hope to foster and correct the hitherto poor reception and misinterpretation of Africa on the global stage and become a catalyst for global conversation, reception and appreciation of the diversity and richness of African arts and culture,” stated founder/director of the outfit, Kesiena C. Obue.
Co-Producers: 10PP (TEN PAGE PRODUCTIONS): Established by Aduke Gomez and Ladi Dawodu to provide a virtual theatre space where new and emerging writers can have the world listen to their voices, 10PP is determined to be at the forefront of the production of online theatre and believes that in spite of the current constraints, theatre must continue to fulfill its role not only as a form of entertainment but also as a wider reflection of societal mores. Its initial ongoing project involves organising and presenting an online series of performances of 10 new plays by emerging writers from Nigeria, the Diaspora and beyond called the “Ten Minute Matinee” series. This series of plays provides an international virtual stage for contemporary storytellers to express, explore and experiment with diverse ideas which is just the beginning of a new way of working across time zones and borders.