By Damiete Braide

In the vibrant city of Lagos, Nigeria, a renowned theater company, Lufodo Productions, staged the command performance of  the intriguing play, The King Must Dance Naked, at Glover Memorial Hall, Lagos. Written by the lawyer-dramatist, Fred Agbeyegbe, with lots of political undertones , the play, which ruled the theatre circuit in the early to middle 1980, centres around  the rich Itsekiri history and culture, which the writer, Pa Fred Agbeyegbe, who is 88 years, has used as his backdrop.


The King Must Dance Naked is produced by Adesoji Jacobs and co-directed by Toritseju Akiya Ejoh and Adebunmi Adewale. Renowned screen diva, Joke Silva, executive producer of the play, who played the lead role of Queen Odosun in the play in 1993, said, in her address of welcome, “Agbeyegbe has many remarkable plays, but The King Must Dance Naked was chosen for a special reason. “It is a play that looks at culture, tradition, leadership, and how all those things intersect. Where do they divide?

A scene from the play

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“The play is about leadership, about the tension between tradition and societal change. The responsibility of leaders to the citizens.”

Olapeju Ibekwe, Chief Executive Officer, Sterling One Foundation, remarked that the The King Must Dance Naked “is a timeless masterpiece, which is being revived by the dedicated efforts of the Lufodo Production team. Witnessing the revival of this iconic piece by the dedicated Lufodo team invokes a sense of nostalgia, promising a glimpse into the glorious past while embracing the innovative spirit of the present.

“Our commitment to the creative industry is exemplified through supporting and nurturing the Nigerian creative industry. Our initiatives, such as the recent panel session at the Africa Social Impact Summit, focused on reshaping the narrative of the creative economy,” she said.

Toritseju Ejoh, in his excitement, said “This play is one of the plays that the National Troupe was celebrated for in the 1980s and ’90s. They made cultural tours around the world showcasing the rich culture of Nigerian people. Having the opportunity to direct it, I only had to look back at all the things the masters have done, and I took two of them: the first director of the play, late Jide Ogungbade, and the second is a renowned veteran I had worked with, Bayo Oduneye.”

The King Must Dance Naked delves into the rich history, culture, and traditions of the Ishekiri people. Agbeyegbe’s story explores the intricate relationship between the gods and society, as well as the weight of leadership. After the coronation of Omajuwa as the King in Ogbodume, the land is plagued by famine, drought, and diseases. The root cause is believed to be the King’s inability to have an heir. However, the mystery unfolds when Mejebi appears. The play had an infusion of other tribes’ cultural dances at the coronation indicating the rich cultural heritage shared among Nigerians.

Dignitaries present during the play include Babatunde Raji Fashola, former governor of Lagos State, and his wife, Abimbola; Kayode Fayemi, former governor of Ekiti State, and his wife; Babajide Sanwo-Olu, governor of Lagos State, represented by Toke Benson-Awoyinka, the Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Lagos State; Busola Tejumola, executive head, Content & West Africa Channels, MultiChoice Nigeria, among others

Artistes featured in the play included Edmond Enaibe, who played the role of Atseburukuajagbo, Gloria Young as Queen Odosun, Toyin Oshinaike as the Narrator, Albert Akaeze as Ogodobiri, Seyi Fasuyi as AfinoNakedtan, Efe Mayford-Orhorha as Ogbemi, Omololu Sodiya as Ololo, Mike Okorie as Ofioto, and Smart Adejumo as Jolomi, among others.