My name is Emma Copland. I am a freelance director and facilitator, based in Northern Ireland. I got involved with Utopia Theatre after searching for theatre opportunities in London and finding the Assistant Director post advertised on their Facebook page. I thought the project looked amazing and that there would be so much I could learn from it. So I applied! (and quickly got to work researching…)
I had studied Webster’s play at school and could tell from a brief internet search on pre-colonial Yoruba that there were interesting parallels. By the time I was offered the job I was hooked. I immersed myself in Yoruba and Nigerian facts, web searches and culture, soon finding that I already knew a tiny bit that I had forgotten about. I remembered seeing some traditional ceremonial costumes and Yoruba artefacts when I was in New York a couple of years ago at the American Museum of Natural History www.amnh.org and at the Metropolitan Museum of Art www.metmuseum.org. I scoured the web for maps, context and any exhibitions that could help me. I found a photograph exhibition in Belfast of Nigerian people – The MAC, Belfast Pieter Hugo www.pieterhugo.com with some of his work from ‘This Must Be the Place’ and ‘The Hyena and Other Men’ www.museomagazine.com/THE-HYENA-AND-OTHER-MEN. Although this isn’t the world we are creating in the play, I find it helps me to surround myself with as much as I can so I have lots of knowledge to draw from!
Research broadened to developing mailing lists and contact databases for events listings, audience development and workshop participants as well as some promotional work on social media; adding my own contacts to the mailing lists.
Then came the best bit for me, script work. I read through the workshop script (abridged version for the scratch performance), to create a glossary of Yoruba words where the meaning was unclear. I was surprised to see how many place names and names of deities that I recognised from the little research I had done. The writer had helped with context and some explanation within the script.