The Character and the Dramatic Action: A Playwright’s Window on Ovonramwen in Ola Rotimi’s Ovonramwen Noghbaisi
Ola Rotimi’s characterisation of Ovonramwen in Ovonramwen Nogbaisi has generated dissatisfaction among critics, chief among whom are Michael Etherton and Chris Dunton. While attempting to place these critics’ views in proper perspective, this paper assesses Rotimi’s characterisation of Ovonramwen against the theory of characterisation and also against the dramatic action of the play, since the character and the dramatic action inexorably impact each other. The finding is that Ovonramwen is too weak to effectively participate as an antagonist in the dramatic action that the White man foisted on his Empire, and his weakness is traced to Rotimi’s poor constitution of Ovonramwen’s three dimensions – physiology, sociology and psychology – which contrasts remarkably with Ahmed Yerima’s, in the latter’s play, The Trials of Oba Ovonramwen. The significance of the paper is, primarily, to the student of playwriting, who needs to identify the building blocks for effective characterisation and, secondarily, to students, actors and directors of the play, whose understanding of it may depend on the keen analysis of Ovonramwen’s character here provided.