Sunday, October 13, 2013

Play: Saro of music, dance and drama - National Mirror

By Terh Agbedeh

Most masterpieces are also simple enough for everyone to relate to. The Preview of Saro: The Musical conceived and produced by Bolanle Austen-Peters penultimate Tuesday makes this assertion even more telling. In fact, in most cases, it is the elevation of that simplicity to a higher level of art that gives such pieces a classic tinge

Stage has an interactive feel all its own. Actors on stage often engage the audience in an exchange that makes every performance unique no matter how many times the actors mount the stage. It is the reason drama enthusiasts are drawn to stage. But when a stage drama also adopts music as well as dance, the resulting energy, particularly if connoisseurs are involved, is out of this world.

It was the same otherworldliness the select audience of corporate Nigeria, government functionaries, media, culture enthusiasts and celebrities experienced when they witnessed the sneak preview of Saro: The Musical in Lagos. Everyone who got the opportunity to speak afterwards was united in one voice, “we can’t wait to see all the other scenes!”. And to think that they got to see only four scenes out of the 14!

The good thing about it all is that the October date for the staging of the play is sacrosanct. Saro will be on stage for three days when it opens on October 25 with three shows with the same timing the next and a variation in the first show on October 27. Venue is the Lagos Oriental Hotel A scene from Saro review in Lekki. Those who get their tickets early and make it to the shows will see a fresh take on the age-old Lagos story of a people in a quest for a better life.

They will see the story of four young men, who are determined to break free from disappointment, who want to explore the opportunities that moving to Lagos portend, who are challenged to tap into the wellspring of their talents. This is the journey of young men who want to make a difference in their lives.

The audience will see themselves in the cast whose words, some of which they have heard before or even invented, will make them reel with laughter. One such is ‘money for looking’ or ‘this is Lagos’ or when the policeman says, ‘handcuff yourself ’. No doubt there will be more of these expressions in the rest of the scenes.

Saro is also the story of the love between Olaitan and Rume, of Lagos in all its peculiar glory on display like the churches by the beaches, drama at the drinking joints, all kinds of landmarks and even the carnival. But the first thing that strikes one is the music. It comes like from everywhere and hits the member of the audience from memory long and short. Music is the first thing Saro introduces with a lone drummer’s rhythmic beats calling all to attention.

Then, there is the orchestra bringing Beethoven himself to life. But there is also a sonorous chant, Highlife, Afrobeat, Pop, and what have you, which stays in the background as action unfolds on the stage.

The repertoire includes songs like Mad Melon and Mountain Black’s ‘Danfo Driver’, Harry Belafonte’s ‘Be Happy’ and Fela’s ‘Zombie’, among others, all of which resonates with the choreography of the dancers/ actors on stage. It all came across very well. It is no surprise that Disun Hollaway, Lagos State Commissioner for Tourism and Intergovernmental Affairs was speechless for a moment when he got up to speak. “What I have seen excites me. I have not seen that in Nigeria and I look forward to it”, he eventually said.

He added that we are too busy in Lagos running after so many things and Saro was an opportunity to put something back into the city. Among the others who also had something good to say about the play were: Taiwo Ajai-Lycett, Ben Tomoloju, Ahmed Yerima and Mo Abudu.

SARO is indeed the land of freedom.

Austin-Peters explained that **SARO: The Musical** is conceived as a patriotic cultural project, designed to serve as a response to the recent trend of Nigerian corporate organisations and the affluent importing theatrical packages from abroad without giving necessary encouragement or assistance to local talents to flower.

Terra Kulture is in the forefront of the promotion of live theatre in the country and in the past six years has hosted weekly productions. Many young artistes have taken the opportunities Terra Kulture provides to explore and expose their talents and as well as honing their performance skills.

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