By Olabode Moses
In between the experiences of a tricycle operator, a die hard believer in traditional medication and a woman desperately trying to save her sick child an intriguing drama unfolds, encapsulated with gripping suspense and dark humor that intrinsically betrays the conspiratorial plot that covid 19 has metamorphosed into a new societal malady characterized and manipulated by unfolding intricacies which leaves us the protagonists at the centre of a dilemma of existence.
“Beyond the lockdown” is a play that takes a critical look at a community called ‘Namu Namu’ community as they come to terms with life after the lifting of the Covid 19 restrictions in 2020.How are people coming to terms with the new normal in the community? How are they coping economically, socially, physically or even spiritually? The challenges of the lockdown in the community cannot be overemphasized ,Mama maikosai (bean cake seller) could hardly make ends meet, Talle the teacher had to take up home lessons and many considered as ‘non essential services’ felt the impact greatly. The Theatre play performance opens with a cultural dance to attract the attention of the audience which is followed by the narrator who sets the ball rolling talking how the lockdown was imposed, how schools, churches and markets were closed down and how the restrictions were lifted following the compliance of the people of the community.
Mantau a member of the community tries to board a Tricycle popularly called ‘Keke Napep’ without wearing a face mask, the tricycle operator refuses to carry him and drives away, he gets angry and rains abuses on the rider and all the people imposing Covid restrictions. His neighbor Jatau meets and tries to explain the importance of wearing face mask, washing hands and social distancing to him, he gets angry and almost fights him. He gets home to meet his son shivering from fever, his wife is trying to take him to hospital but Mantau refuses saying the child should rather be taken to a herbalist called ‘Mazumba’.
On arrival at Mazumba’s shrine they discover that even the herbalist has now received education about covid protocols from his daughter who is studying Nursing. The conflict between Mantau and his wife leads to a climax that opens up discussion between the audience and the actors facilitated by the narrator.
This is little wonder because many resort to local alternative treatment due to poverty or personal preference.
Is traditional medicine bad? The audience engage the actors in robust post performance discussion about their views regarding what they witnessed in the play.
The play ends with a song about covid and the Narrator ends the play by explaining the responsibility we all have to observe the Covid 19 Protocols whether there is lockdown or not. The Play performance utilizes ‘Total Theatre’ concept of song, dance, dialogue and conflict.
It also adopts the Popular Theatre approach of ‘Theatre For Development’ which is Theatre of the people by the people for the people. The performance itself is also done in compliance with covid 19 protocols! An audience of less than 30 people sitting, more than 2 meters apart, wearing face masks, no hugs, no handshakes. They trickle in bit by bit, everyone use sanitizer or wash his or her hands before taking a seat in the well aired arena. This is the ‘New Normal’ of Theatre performance in our world today.
From September 2020 to December 2020 and beyond, the project was developed and rehearsed by the director Olabode Moses, a consummate Theatre Practitioner with some Artists in Kaduna Nigeria.
The project is proudly supported by AFRICAN CULTURE FUND under the Sofaco Artiste Grant 2020 Programme which is aimed at supporting artists and cultural operators on the African continent to continue to practice their art in spite of the impact of Covid 19 on African Artists.
Beyond the Lockdown Theatre Project launched in Nigeria in December 2020 and will continue with performances across many communities in Nigeria in 2021.
Sofaco Artist Grant is an initiative of African Culture Fund, supported by Doen Foundation, Open Society Foundation and Ford Foundation,BICIM (Mali) and SONAVIE (Mali).
“Beyond the lockdown” is a Theatre project written and directed by Olabode Moses with the support of Sofaco Artist African Culture Fund:2020.
Link to photos of Rehearsals:
Link to photos of the Theatre Performance:
Link to photos of the Theatre Performance:
Link to information about the project selected Artist/Grantees: