Performing verbatim on the Nigerian stage: Bode Ojoniyi’s dramaturgy in perspective
Verbatim theatre is still an unexplored area on the Nigerian playwriting scene as well as theatre stage in spite of its popularity and practice in different parts of the world. One of the central spines of verbatim theatre is that it thrives on documentary, the new/social media and journalistic practices involving more than one person who incidentally are co-creators. It is a form of dramaturgy where live interviews, news tit-bits, documented memos, online chat-threads, screenshots, musical lyrics, vox-pop or recorded conversations are creatively edited and used to create drama. One Nigerian playwright whose drama is rooted in verbatim theatre is Bode Ojoniyi. This paper examines the atypical creative energy in the memoir drama of Bode Ojoniyi whose dramatic vision is located within the frame of existentialism, deadness and the undead consciousnesses. This study contends that Ojoniyi’s memoir drama is woven around a delicate and life draining human experience attended by the incursions of mythical afflatuses as live characters in his dramatic oeuvre. It uses For the Love of Sisyphus and A Dance of Beasts!, two play-memoirs on the Uniosun blackmail of the playwright to argue that the premise of
Ojoniyi’s memoir dramas is rooted in neo-romanticist aesthetics marked by the intersection between theatre and journalism. The study concludes that Ojoniyi’s verbatim theatre conveys a crosscurrent of three transcendental conditioning, the mythic, the existential and the material.