By Debo Oluwatuminu
A unique West African transposition of one of the greatest dramas ever written, John Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi.
The recently widowed Iyalode, a young, beautiful chief longs to marry her low-born lover, Oguntade. Her brothers vehemently forbid it, but Iyalode secretly marries and gives birth. If the brothers discover the deceit, a trail of torture, torment, betrayal and murder could follow…
Iyalode of Eti is a theatre event replete with music, poetry, dance and movement, transposing the Duchess of Malfi’s original setting to pre-colonial Yoruba land with its many sights, sounds and colours. The play’s themes – abuse of power, corruption, the status of women, gender equality, family, honour and revenge are still very relevant to today’s society.
Conceived and directed by Mojisola Kareem-Elufowoju, this reinvention of a classic – sets the action in pre-colonial Yoruba land in West Africa and transforms the Jacobean drama of the original into an enchanting, lyrical theatrical experience that is fresh, dynamic and surprising. An English play is retold as an African mystical fable riddled with rituals, hauntings, double-crossings, playful levity and potent tragedy.
The recently widowed Iyalode longs to marry her lover Oguntade. But her scheming and controlling brothers forbid their union. When Iyalode secretly marries Oguntade, their love and lives are threatened. IYALODE OF ETI is a story of how a woman asserts her strength and fights for her heart in a land ruled by men.
“Rich language, bold characterisations and thrilling storytelling will carry the audience into an atmospheric world that is presented with startling intimacy and electric physicality” — ★★★★ Yorkshire Times
“This English play is retold as an African mystical fable riddled with rituals, hauntings, double crossings, playful levity and potent tragedy. It was colourful, fresh, lyrical, beautifully lit, staged and costumed.” — Yorkshire Times
“It is a bold step by Kareem to transpose Webster’s work to 16th century pre-colonial Yoruba but Akingbola thinks the themes successfully translate across continents.” — Louderthanwar.com
“The acting performances are powerful. The vocal resonance of the voices is thrilling, as is the movement, singing and relationship with the audience.” — British Theatre Guide
“Moji Kareem successful direction of Iyalode of Eti is certainly a tragedy re-imagined on stage and its pulsating African sounds and rhythms reach many beyond West Africa!” — ★★★ North West End
“It is not a piece that is just for Africans, it’s a piece that’s about this whole idea of a universal struggle…You could be white, I could be black, but the stuff that happens to us is universal.” — ★★★★ thegryphon.co.uk
“A powerful, funny and inventive production.” — Exeunt Magazine
“Mojisola Elufowoju successful direction of Iyalode of Eti is certainly a tragedy re-imagined on stage and its pulsating African sounds and rhythms reach many beyond West Africa!” — ★★★★ North West End
“Iyalode of Eti is an absolute treat, which manages to bring something genuinely new to a play that has by now seemingly been studied and reimagined to death.” — The Gryphon
Iyalode of Eti, had its premiere at West Yorkshire Playhouse followed by a regional tour of Sheffield Crucible and Cast- Doncaster (Sept/Oct 2016). The play was also showcased at Ake International Arts and Book Festival in Nigeria (Nov 2016)
Our production is an imaginative and accessible theatre piece which conveys our culturally specific story to an all-inclusive British audience. British-Africans of whatever generation are hungry for theatrical material that illuminates their lives. The company’s unique approach to story-telling form, process and content is informed by a cutting-edge fusion of African and European theatre practices.