Thursday, 14 January 2010

Soyinka meets Shakespeare at Poetry Potter

By Ireyimika Oyegbami

January 6, 2010
Next Newspaper

It was an eager crowd that gathered for the last Poetry Potter, which held on Saturday, December 27, at its usual venue, the Rotunda Hall, National Library, Yaba, Lagos. The monthly art event was the last for 2009 and the organisers chose to celebrate this fact by tagging it ‘The Wine Party'.

This probably informed the abundance of rich wines which people had brought along as requested by the organisers. It was also poet Jumoke Verrisimo's birthday; Verrisimo was all smiles as she received birthday wishes from some of those at the event.

Seun Ajayi, who emceed the event was brisk in calling performing poets to the podium; perhaps in a bid to make up for lost time as the event started an hour behind schedule.


Cornerstone, a regular, was the first to perform. Performing to the accompaniment of a properly tuned guitar, the reggae musician sang ‘Don't wanna be here again', which he composed after watching a distraught woman who had been raped during the Odi crisis narrate her ordeal at the Oputa Panel. The fact that the woman has yet to get justice informed the song. Cornerstone's second song, ‘I don't wanna wait in vain' wasn't any more cheerful, though.

Kafayat Quadri's song ‘Mo wo'oke mo wo'isale' was a lesson on being grateful despite perceived shortfalls in life. She obliged someone in the audience who asked for her ‘Wanna be free'. Awoko, the songbird, thrilled the audience with his amazing voice and guitar. He also sang two songs, ‘Lekeleke' and ‘Oro Ife'. Chinyelo Onwubuya performed ‘Sugar' and ‘Zombies' while Bob did a spoken word performance titled ‘Revolution'.


Next was the cast of ‘Soyinka in the eyes of Shakespeare', a play directed by Lekan Balogun. They entertained with a juxtaposition of the major characters in Shakespeare's play ‘Macbeth' and Wole Soyinka's ‘Death and the King's Horseman'. The performance was well-staged and held the audiences' attention for well over an hour.

It was a funny moment when Lady Macbeth, who set out to seduce the King's Horseman sharply corrects his pronunciation of perfume after she is rejected by the man who responds to her amorous advances by lamenting, "If only you knew what brought me this far." Macbeth, who is held in the same mansion as the King's Horseman by the comedian, Bilkins, causes a ripple of laughter when at a point he replies, "Man is not meant to be hungry all the time", to Bilkins' admonition that man does not live by bread alone. The costumes were of the Elizabethan era. Macbeth's tormentor, Malcolm's paper dagger, somehow undermined the seriousness of the latter's supposed anger.

The crowd certainly enjoyed the performance and rewarded the cast and crew with loud ovation.
Soon after, the wine cocks popped and rich wine flowed into the cups, and with it exuberance and cheer from the lovers of poetry and art. Ade Bantu, Segun Adefila, and Kolade Arogundade, a lecturer from the University of Cape Town were some of those at the event.

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