Wole Oguntokun: Writing Plays, Directing Stories and Shaping National History Through Theatre

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Wole Oguntokun is Writing To Impact

Many plays are written to entertain, others are written to enlighten and educate but only a few plays are written to resonate with the historic events of people. Wole Oguntokun is one of such playwrights whose stage and theatre plays, mostly based on social, economic and political issues, are making the rounds and also serve as a gateway to profit.

Early Days, Educational Background & Playwriting

Wole Oguntokun holds a Bachelor of Laws degree from the Obafemi Awolowo University and also a Master of Laws and a Master’s degree in Humanitarian and Refugee Studies from the University of Lagos. However, it seemed that the humanitarian degree paved the way for the benevolent nature of his works.

With that background, he emerged as a major player in the Nigerian Theatre Landscape in September 1988, using his writing to impact others with the production of his satirical stage play titled “Who’s Afraid of Wole Soyinka?” which was a ridicule of the Nigerian military in governance. These plays were widely accepted and put up at the Arts Theatre of the University of Lagos and also at the Muson Centre.

Making Money from Theatre Plays

Furthermore, he was appointed as the general secretary to the Lagos State arm of the Association of Nigerian Authors from 2003 to 2004. He later wrote and directed several other plays such as the “Rage of the Pentecost” in August 2002, “Ladugba” in September 2002 and “The Other Side” in November 2002; all happening at the Muson Centre.

These plays had a large number of people in attendance which made him to begin making profits from writing especially his playwrights as in December 2003, his stage play, He also made money from directing several other plays including “The Inheritors” which featured the queen of Nigerian drama, Taiwo Ajai-Lycett; he also produced “The Prison Chronicles” in March 2004, “The Other Side” in November 2005, “The Sound and Fury” in April 2006 and many more plays.

These plays by Wole Oguntokun made money from featured several Nollywood actors such as Kate Henshaw, Stella Damascus, Joke Silva and a couple of others. He was also able to use his writing to impact lives with the adaptation of “The Pied Piper of Hamelin” and his play “Gbanja Roulette” to highlight and show the dangers HIV / AIDS in May and July 2013.

Partnerships & Collaborations

In July 2007, Wole Oguntokun entered into a huge collaboration with Terra Kulture, an Arts and Theatre Centre in Victoria Island, Lagos and became a founding producer and artistic director responsible for many of the organisation’s famous plays.

Oguntokun made it one of Nigeria’s foremost centres for theatrical productions with plays produced every Sunday, thus making massive profits for the venture. Due to his engaging theatre plays, Wole Oguntokun was assigned as the official consultant to the Lagos chapter of the British Council and he was also a major player as he was part of the crew of the London National Theatre with the aim of producing Wole Soyinka’s play – “Death and the King’s Horseman” in April and May 2009.

National Recognition

With his first-hand experience in playwright and stage directing and production, Oguntokun was also asked to write and direct a play on the life and times of Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther, the first native African Bishop of the Anglican church titled “Ajai The Boy Slave”. The play featured Nigerian and British cast members and was performed on the 19th and 21st of December 2010.

In 2010, he was listed as one of the 300 people, events, places and things that helped shape Nigeria in 2010.

Wole Oguntokun was one of the five theatre directors selected by the British Council for a Theatre Director’s Residency Workshop in the United Kingdom and was one of the 2 Nigerians chosen for an Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland.

He was a producer and Head Writer on Season II of the Pan-African talk-show Moments with Mo and produced briefly on Season IV.

It all started from writing playwrights and directing plays, to capturing set piece moments in our nation’s history and  directing several stage adaptations of popular fiction stories.

Wole Oguntokun began with writing and evolved into stage play directing and production, showing us that one can start from little and incrementally build up.

To sum it up:

  • Wole Oguntokun holds a Bachelor of Law degree and also a Master’s Degree in Humanitarian and Refugee Studies
  • Oguntokun used writing to impact as he wrote a number of plays, especially plays that captured set piece moments in our nation’s history and also plays to enlighten Nigerians about political issues
  • He was able to gather a large audience in his plays this leading to a massive income and profits from writing plays and directing them
  • Wole Oguntokun is currently a major player in the Nigerian Theatre Landscape with several collaborations and partnerships to his name. His plays have also featured celebrities like Taiwo Ajai-Lycett, Joke Silva, Kate Henshaw and lots more.

© 2018, Demilade Olafisoye. All rights reserved.

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