popular
'54 Silhouettes' at the British Council of Nigeria's Lagos Theatre Festival. Photo: Drive Adebayo.

'54 Silhouettes' Is the One-Man Play Exploring What Happens When Other People Tell Our Stories

The play is the first from Nigeria to show at the international United Solo Theatre Festival in NYC.

Playwright, screenwriter, and theatre director Africa Ukoh's award-winning play 54 Silhouettes has made its way to New York City as part of the United Solo Festival, the annual international festival, highlighting solo theatre performances through a "variety of one-person shows."

The one-man play stars the award-winning Nigerian actor Charles Etubiebi as a struggling actor who thinks he's landed his big break when he gets a major role in an upcoming blockbuster, he becomes conflicted, however, when he learns the film is yet another stereotypical "war in Africa" production—the type of film he vowed to never do. "Caught between career ambitions and ideals of his African identity, he must decide whether to do the film or ditch it," reads an official description of the show.

"The play explores African representation in global media and asks questions about creative responsibility, with tensions of cross cultural relations at the center of it all," Ukoh tells OkayAfrica. "It explores the inherent complexities in culturally unique stories being told by people of different cultures and how this intersects with power dynamics, commerce, and artistic ideals."


'54 Silhouettes' at Rio de Janeiro at the Network for Emerging Artists and Professionals Theatre Festival. Photo: Charles Etubiebi via Facebook.

Ukoh's 54 Silhouettes—which was adapted into a one-man play after originally featuring five actors—has been on the circuit since 2011 and has racked up several accolades since it first premiered. It showed at the British Council of Nigeria's Lagos Theatre Festival earlier this year and in Rio de Janeiro at the International Theatre Institute's Network of Emerging Artists and Professionals Festival in 2018. It was awarded the Stratford East/30 Nigeria House prize in 2012 and was the first runner-up winner in the 2011 BBC African Performance Competition.

Its latest feat—becoming the first Nigerian play included on the United Solo Festival's lineup, highlights its diverse appeal which is rooted in its nuanced exploration of how cultural dynamics shape storytelling.

'54 Silhouettes' at the British Council of Nigeria's Lagos Theatre Festival. Photo: Drive Adebayo.

"Being the first play from Nigeria to show at the United Solo Festival is an amazing opportunity to have a story that is not just about Africa but from Africa and by Africans told on a global stage," says Ukoh. "It is such a high point in the journey I, Charles and the rest of the team have been on with the one-man version of the play. It's a dream to be in the mix of stellar talents from over fifteen countries showing that there are world-class stories from Nigeria rich in craft, style and aesthetics. When I first wrote 54 Silhouettes I was just in my fourth year of university so it's an immense feeling to have it come this far."

54 Silhouettes made its NYC debut at the United Solo Theatre Festival on November 20. The festival, which is the world's largest solo performance festival, runs till November 24.

Audio
Burna Boy. Photo by Joseph Okpako/WireImage (via Getty Images).

The 20 Best Nigerian Songs of 2019

Featuring Burna Boy, Rema, Tiwa Savage, Zlatan, Mr Eazi, Wizkid, Teni, Davido, Lady Donli and many more.

2019 was another huge year for Nigerian music.

Zlatan's presence was ubiquitous and powered by the zeal for zanku, a dance which is now de rigueur. Rema led the charge for a group of young breakthrough artists that include Fireboy DML and Joeboy. They all represent an exciting crop of talents that point the way forward for Nigerian pop.

Burna Boy's new dominance, built around his excellent African Giant album, delivered on his rare talents, while the long wait for Davido's sophomore album, A Good Time, paid off in satisfying fashion. Simi's Omo Charlie Champagne Vol. 1 announced her departure from her longterm label. Tiwa Savage also made a highly-discussed move from Mavin Records to Universal Music Group. Meanwhile, Yemi Alade exuded female strength with her latest record, Woman of Steel.

Not to be left out, Wizkid sated demands for his fourth album with a new collaborative EP following a year of stellar features that included his presence on Beyoncé's Lion King: The Gift, an album which also boasts Tekno, Mr Eazi and Tiwa Savage. Mr Eazi also notably launched his emPawa initiative to help fund Africa's promising up-and-coming artists.

Asa returned in a formidable form with Lucid, while buzzing artists like Tay Iwar, Santi, and Lady Donli all shared notable releases. Lastly, the beef between Vector and M.I climaxed and sparked a resurgence of Nigerian rap releases from Phyno to Ycee, PsychoYP and more.

Read on for the best Nigerian songs of 2019. Listed in no particular order. —Sabo Kpade

Follow our NAIJA HITS playlist on Spotify here and Apple Music here.

Keep reading... Show less
popular
Photo by Ahmed Gomaa/Xinhua via Getty

African Travelers Will Soon be Able to Enter Nigeria Without a Visa

Speaking at the Aswan Forum in Egypt, President Muhammadu Buhari said that as of January 2020, fellow Africans will instead be issued with visas upon their arrival in Nigeria.

According to Sahara Reporters, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has announced at the Aswan Forum in Egypt that fellow Africans will no longer require a visa to enter Nigeria.

However, this is not to say that travel to Nigeria will be entirely visa-less. Instead, those in possession of an African passport will be issued a visa upon their arrival in Nigeria.

Keep reading... Show less
Audio
Ayanda Jiya. Photo by Sabelo Mkhabela.

South African Women Dropped the Best Debuts of 2019

We highlight 10 noteworthy albums & EPs from a new generation of vocal talent in South Africa, featuring Elaine, Ayanda Jiya, Ami Faku and more.

The South African music scene has seen an uptick in youthful, vocally gifted artists over the years. Much of this is owed to the recent global resurgence of R&B, as well as the increased significance of streaming sites, especially SoundCloud.

From internet-savvy artists creating jazz, alternative soul and house-infused spoken word to radio friendly iterations of pop and Afro-soul, 2019 has been the year of impactful debut performances.

This year ushered in the voices of a new generation of South African female artists announcing themselves to the world.

Here's a lowdown of 10 great releases from talented female vocalists, songwriters and composers marking this new era.

Read ahead below. This list is in no particular order.

Keep reading... Show less
popular
Album Cover Art.

Listen to Stormzy's New Album 'Heavy is the Head'

The British-Ghanaian grime star has dropped his much-anticipated sophomore album featuring YEBBA, H.E.R., Burna Boy, Ed Sheeran, Tiana Major9 and Headie One.

British-Ghanaian rapper Stormzy has finally dropped his much-anticipated sophomore album Heavy is the Head. The album comes two years after he released his debut album Gang Signs & Prayer.

The 16-track project features the likes of American singer-songwriter YEBBA, H.E.R., Burna Boy, British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran, Tiana Major9 and Headie One.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

news.

popular.