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Ijakadi: Artists grapple with societal stigma at Lagos Theatre Festival

By OLAMIDE BABATUNDE

An unforgettable sequence of movement, sound and waves of emotion riveted across the audience at the just-concluded Lagos Theatre Festival. The over 500 shows performed by people from different walks of life deployed employed dramatic elements to present the daily grind of the city. As implied by the theme “Rhythm of the City”, a correlation of city activities was in no less perfected by ambitious casts.

Engrossing among the many shows was Ijakadi (wrestle), a contemporary dance drama conceptualised by Julius Obende who must have spared a thought for the many who suffer ailments considered by society as stigmatic.

With movements, sounds and monologue, the wrestle takes place among and around the victims, who strive for acceptance in a society that offers prejudice to their plight. Each victim suffers in a unique way, but their pain and emotions always find the same purpose:
reintegration.

The numbness, spasms, rantings and silence of the victims are shadowed by how these victims are perniciously affected in goal attainment, loss of opportunities, segregation, coercion, functional limitations and also how it reduces self-esteem and self-efficacy.

In no time, the audience were transported into a moment of truth to realise what it meant to suffer insanity, epilepsy, depression and autism. A thought many must have quickly discarded just as fast and as far as discrimination has accompanied these shortcomings.

Other interesting line-up of performances from Nigeria, UK, USA and South Africa range from music, drama, spoken word and comedy to experiential theatre. They includes A Slice of Good Things, One Chance, Sour Carrots, The Money, and Wedding Blues.

Others include By Fire by Force & Iya
Risi Chronicles, Classical, Discovering a Planet of Conclusion, Ijakadi, IN,Intact/Tainted Image, Lagos Na Wa!, Lines, Refugee Saga: The Hope Within, Sisi Pelebe, Single in Gidi, The Audition,
and The Cut.

The Lagos Theatre Festival is the biggest in Nigeria, founded by British Council in 2013, to present performing arts from Nigeria and the UK every February in Lagos. It has, in past, focused on showcasing raw talents who are afforded opportunities to capture through sounds, sights and movements the stories of their community.
The 2017 edition of the Lagos Theatre Festival was themed to reflect the boisterous metropolitan life of Lagos expressed in the comings and goings, the repetitive activities and the music of the city in language, beats and rhythms from people who choose to rise above their ethnicity and socio economic walls.

There were over 500 curated and fringe shows all together. The fringe shows embraced all forms off arts from puppetry, comedy, film, spoken word, cabaret, dance, theatre and more.

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