Arambe

>> The Butcher Babes



“The Butcher Babes will enthral, shock, enliven and excite you with its wild collection of politics, pain and comedy. It will also inspire debate, not only about the extremes of humanity, but also about why we so rarely see plays of such multifaceted skill on the Irish stage”.
(The African Voice)

“The New Theatre have struck gold with their final fringe production The Butcher Babes is well acted, well directed with a script full of howling one-liners and observational whit... tackle a number of serious issue and give a voice to a rake of characters who are usually confined to the background".
(Totally Dublin)

“It seems writer/director Bisi Adigun might have just presented us with the most intriguing production that this year's Fringe Festival has to offer... The Butcher Babes is a brave yet oddly enjoyable tragicomedy that owes as much to its ingenious creator as the credible interaction between its excellent cast”. (The Evening Herald)




»» The Trials of Brother Jero



Nofe and Segun

“Arambe’s production, daubed with playful local and contemporary references…, adds one more detail to Jero’s ignominious CV. Now he is a banker... It lends an enjoyably piquant topicality to Soyinka’s Nigeria-set satire on faith, gullibility and materialism in a society addled by rapid transition.”
(Peter Crawley: The Irish Times)

“It is absolutely hilarious and at one point my tummy hurt so badly from laughing; and we laughed all the way home!”
(Edda Gombedza: The African Voice)

“A magnificently uplifting night; beautifully done by all involved and an absolute joy to behold, it was simply a gorgeous revolution.”
(Terry McMahon Writer / Theatre Director)

“The gullibility of parishioners, the politics of evangelical organised religion and domestic violence are all dished up with a sprinkle of wry wit.”
(Sandy Hazel, Freelance Journalist)



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»» Celebr8 Arambe@5
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» Pantomime

He’s behind you!’, we used to warn the onstage hero of the imminent approach of the stage villain at Christmas. In the postcolonial Carribean island of Tobago, however, Derek Wallcott’s 1980 play, lovingly revived by Arambe Productions, shows us how heroes and villains, slaves and masters, black skin/white skin are the products of historical legacies that can be interchanged and ultimately contested.

Director Bisi Adigun envelops the production in a warm glow of humanity, ably assisted by a design team (Lisa Hawthorne and Katherine Graham) that makes this island setting very attractive. And the soundtrack of a lapping sea (and our own sing-along participation in the pantomime) lulls us into accepting the premise that the animal beneath the skin lurks ominously in each one of us, regardless of skin colour. But so, too, resides our dark side.
(Brian Singleton, Irish Theatre Magazine)

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»»
Through a Film Darkly


There are clear parallels with Ireland's burgeoning Interculturalism that Arambe wish to draw and important questions to ask about the pathology of racism.
(The Irish Times)

...what is striking is the raw energy these actors and actresses are able to release with such ease and grace. They achieve an earnest, unselfconscious fluidity of expression which is thoroughly captivating.
(The Daily Mail)

[Bisi Adigun’s] direction is spirited and effective and his cast performs admirably with both heart and
professionalism. 
(Sunday Independent)

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»» The Playboy of the Western World


"Probably the most famous play of the Abbey Theatre’s repertoire, The Playboy of the Western World has constantly been revived and revisited." "This hilarious but uncompromising new version transposes the play from the West of Ireland to a pub in west Dublin and brings it bang up to date."
myspace/playboyanewversion

“Overall this play is a marvelous adaptation and is an excellent tribute to commemorate the centenary of JM Synge who helped create the Abbey Theatre alongside WB Yeats and Lady Gregory[….]It is also a landmark in Irish drama as Arambe Productions is Ireland’s first African theatre company. This adaptation definitely illustrates the phrase ‘Out with the old and in with the new.’”
(The British Theatre Guide)

 

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»»
The Dilemma of a Ghost



The African-Irish theatre company Arambe was clearly drawn to this text because of its resonances with present-day Ireland, in which rapid inward migration is bringing issues of ethnic and national identity to the fore. This is a welcome introduction to an important play.

(Karen Fricker, The Guardian)

With immigration looming as issue in the election, theatre director Bisi Adigun has found a way of discussing it without preaching, patronising or using the word multiculturalism.
(Colin Murphy, Irish Independent

The Play raises big questions about such topics as integration, immigration and cultural identity. Issues of idealisation and devaluation, closeness and distance, hope and nostalgia, speech and expression, mutuality, and language
are highlighted. 
(Yemi Laotan, Metro Eireann)


Ghanaian Harriet Onwusu Ansah

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»» The Kings of
The Kilburn High Road



"Arambe retains all the potency of the original while delivering an unforgettable homily that will haunt the conscience of modern Ireland that has itself become a site for the shattered and ignored dreams and hopes of the poor immigrant"     
(Patrick Brennan The Irish Times)

"The actors capture the loneliness and self-delusion of the emigrants so well, that for a while at least the audience is colour blind, focussing only on the story. But every now and again, the racism, homophobia and even anti-Irish sentiments of the characters come out, as in the mockery Jap (Jare Jegbefume) receives from his compatriots for having a black girlfriend."
(Ruth Kennedy The Irish Theatre Magazine)



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»» Double Bill:
Once Upon a Time &

Not So Long Ago



“I really enjoyed the performance. This is a welcome and exciting venture in Irish theatre. It works well on many levels; touching on culture and folklore as well as highlighting important aspects of life in a modern intercultural country. I hope to see more of your excellent work on the Irish stage and playing to as wide an audience as possible.”
(Patricia Normanly, Equality & Diversity Officer Dublin)


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»» The Gods are Not to Blame



I just thought tonight’s presentation was the most exhilarating and exciting thing I have seen in a long, long, long time on an Irish stage. I just thought this is Irish, this is what the new Ireland is about.  And I hope, I pray, I suspect that it will send Irish theatre swerving on a new track.
(Roddy Doyle, the celebrated Irish writer was the chief launcher)

This large-scale production performed by an ensemble of African actors (largely composed of amateurs) who live in Ireland, is perhaps the most impressive embodiment of Ireland’s multicultural reality that Dublin theatre has seen.
(Sarah Keating, The Theatre Magazine
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»» African Voices



“Excellent performance. Huge potential. A great way to foster racial harmony and friendship[…] Rich folklore, culture and music can benefit Irish theatre and the interaction and cultural exchange can be mutually beneficial”.
(An Audience member)

 “Fun Colourful, witty, immensely enjoyable [….] I see companies such as Arambe as being essential to the future development of theatre in Ireland and vital that African culture is represented and embraced.”
(Theatre professional)

It demonstrated a joie de vivre and love of performance in all aspects. They know how to have fun. I believe there is a lovely germ of an idea in this performance.
(An Audience member)

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The Butcher Babes
September 2011. New Theatre


Gabriel Uche Akujobi Elizabth Suh, Mary Duffi, Nofe Liberty & Gabriel Uche Akujobi

For the 2010 Fringe Festival, Arambe presented the world première of this tragicomedy, which re-imagines the circumstances surrounding the brutal murder and dismemberment, in 2005, of Kenyan immigrant Farah Swaleh Noor at the hands of the so called Irish ‘Scissor Sisters’.

About the Play
When the dismembered remains of Farah Swaleh Noor were first discovered in the Royal Canal in the North side of Dublin on March 30th 2005, the guards (the police) immediately thought it was a ritual killing. Thorough investigations that followed the discovery would however lead to the arrest, trial and conviction of Linda and Charlotte Mulhall, the two Irish siblings who perpetuated the murder.

The news of the murder and the subsequent trial of the two sisters now infamously known as the ‘Scissor Sisters’ who committed the gruesome crime captured the imagination of the nation. The Butcher Babes gives the stage to the murdered Kenyan immigrant’s missing head to reunite with his other parts and tell the tale of how a night of drinks, drugs and ‘sex’ led to his brutal murder and eventual dismemberment. This is not a true account of what happened, but a tragic-comic re-imagining of what might have been. Not suitable for children and vegetarians

The Trials of Brother Jero
February 2009. Samuel Beckett Theatre, Trinity College Dublin


Praiseworship Scene


Yomi Ogunyemi & Gabriel Akujobi

To celebrate Arambe Productions’ 5th anniversary, it was our plan to produce Death of The King’s Horseman by Nigerian Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka. But we decided to produce a modern version of his 1964 comedy, The Trials of Brother Jero when the economic climate changed for the worse by instead of his tragedy. We thought it was important to bring smile to the faces of our audience and laughter to their belles.

About the Play

Wole Soyinka’s The Trials of Brother Jero was written in 1964 to satirize the shenanigans of the false prophets who were exploiting the gullibility of their many loyal followers. To make it relevant to modern times Arambe’s founder and artistic director rewrote the play against the backdrop of the phenomenon of Pentecostalism in modern day Nigeria Nigeria. The rewrite was a suggestion of Dr Abel Ugba, a former board member of Arambe Productions and the Publisher of www.obodo-oyinbo.co.uk, whose favourite Soyinka’s play is The Trials of Brother Jero

In this new version, Jero is the founding pastor of the Tabernacle of God’s Abundance Pentecostal Church. And like many modern day pentecostal pastors that one sees on telly regularly, Brother Jero can raise the dead, make the cripple walk, cure cancer and can speak in tongues fluently in Swahili and English. He has only one weakness though: women.

The modern version of The Trials of Brother Jero just like the original that inspired it, tells the tale of a fateful day brother Jero comes face to face with Amope and two other daughters of discord. See Home page for the Nigerian production


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Arambe Goes to Nigeria

“…the production had a refreshing twist that simultaneously evoked nostalgic memories of yesteryears while keeping
the audience in the present. The director’s interpretation is to be commended.”
(Nigeria’s Daily Independent Wed 27 May 2009)

This is a play that is more expository and realistic than one trying to find what many pastors are up to. It is hilarious. It is well crafted and well packaged…”
(The Nation on Sunday May 17, 2009)



“The beauty of the play lies in the breeziness of the comedy and the effective deployment of pace to accentuate the import of Soyinka’s message”.
(The Nigerian Guardian June 10 2009)


 

 

Pantomime
September 2008: T@36 The Teachers' Club


Segun Akano and Shane O’Neill

Shane O’Neill

For the 2008 Dublin Fringe Festival Arambe produced for a one week run Pantomime by Nobel Laureate Trinidadian writer Derek Walcott. This was the last of many Arambe’s productions supported by The National Action Plan Against Racism (NPAR)

About the play
As the tourist season approaches, Harry Trewe a retired English actor who now runs a beat up guest house in a seaside resort in Tobago tries to convince his black servant Jackson Phillip to partake in the pantomime based on Robinson Crusoe which he has devised to present as a light entertainment to his would-be guest.

At first, Jackson, who is also a retired musician, resists but when he realizes that by the experimentation with role reversal he would be able to play the role of Robinson Crusoe he agrees.

By producing Pantomime by Derek Walcott who won the 1982 Nobel Prize in Literature, for the 2008 Fringe , it is our hope that we are once again using the ‘familiar’ to discuss the seemingly ‘unfamiliar’ and thereby contributing meaningfully to the discourse of race, migration and identity that is ongoing in an increasingly diverse Ireland.
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Through a Film Darkly
April 2008: Project Arts Centre


Yomi Ogunyemi &  Lizabeth Suh


The cast and crew of Through A Film Darkly

Janet Wilson is a young English woman living in a rapidly changing post-independence Ghana with Fenyinka, her Ghanaian husband. Like a duck to water, Janet is settling down nicely as an immigrant in this West African country until the day she crosses paths with John Owusu, a Ghanaian man who has a few bones to pick with white people since an experience he had as a student in Britain.

Through a Film Darkly asks if it is ever possible for an immigrant, white or black, not to be made feel like an 'inside outsider' in a foreign land.
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The Playboy of the Western World
Oct - Nov 2007: Produced by The Abbey Theatre


Giles Terrera

Nollywood veteran actor Olu Jacobs
and cast of The Playboy

J M Synge’s The Playboy of The Western World was inspired by real events and it tells the story of Christy Mahon’s transformation from a ‘fearful, whining boy to a village hero’ when he arrives in a small village in the west of Ireland claiming that he is running from the law for the crime of patricide that he has supposedly committed. Almost a hundred years after the play was first staged many asylum seekers have turned to Ireland as a safe haven to seek refuge. They all have various stories to tell. And ironically the ability to tell it convincingly is a prerequisite to achieving the status of a refugee. To be granted a refugee status, an asylum seeker must not only be running from some form of persecution or other, but must also be able to convince stage officials, through the strength of storytelling, why he or she deserves to be protected by the Irish government.

It is against this background that Arambe Productions commissioned the writing of a new version of The Playboy that has a Nigerian by the name Christopher Malomo in the lead to commemorate the centenary of its first performance on the Abbey stage in January 1907. This new version explores how the notion of self-reinvention through the power of storytelling has not changed much but how Irish attitudes have changed over the years regarding the phenomenon of asylum seeking. Also the play aims at reflecting what Irish virtue means in a modern-day Ireland where gangland killing is a regular occurrence and where the sexy lingerie shop, Ann Summers, now shares the same O’Connell street with the likes of the statue of Daniel O’Connell.

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The Dilemma of a Ghost
April 2007: Project Arts Centre

The Cast of The Dilemma

Gabriel, Merrina and Elvis impersonator in The Dilemma

Upon graduation from an American University, Ato Quayson returns to his native wet
African country, Ghana with his brand new African American wife Eulalie, to begin a
new life among his people. In an endearingly funny and provocative way, The Dilemma
asks if Ato is now a stranger at home or at home among strangers. 

In celebration of Ghana’s 50th independent anniversary and in our effort to further
widen our audience base and continue to contribute meaningfully to the discourse of
interculturalism in a modern day and increasingly diverse Ireland, Arambe presented,
for a week run, The Dilemma of A Ghost by Ama Ata Aidoo.

“This is an exhilarating evening of African drama”
Colin Murphy, Irish Independent

About The Play:

''As well as providing a fitting tribute to 50 years of independence in Ghana, the play deftly captures the fault lines of tension and inter-generational conflict that can accompany immigration of different kinds. The confusion, misunderstanding and cultural barriers which arise in the drama are just as relevant to a village in rural Ghana as to a housing estate in west Dublin.Immigration doesn't just entail the physical displacement of people; it can also mean the displacement of identity and belonging; it can be the cause of disconnection, loneliness and isolation.There is much in these themes, which will chime with migrants or foreign nationals who have made Ireland their home. But there is also much of interest for Irish people seeking to understand our new neighbours.''
- Carl O’Brien, The Irish Times Social Affairs Correspondent

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The Kings of the Kilburn High Road
September 2006:
T@36 - Teachers' Club Theatre


Actors: Yomi, Gabriel, Yare

Jimmy Murphy and the Cast

To further achieve our aim of fostering cross-cultural understanding through innovative reinterpretation of relevant Irish plays, Arambe produced The Kings of The Kilburn High Road by Jimmy Murphy with an all African cast, for a week-run during the 2006 Dublin Fringe Festival in September.

About the Play:

“In the mid-1970s a group of young men left their homes in the West of Ireland, took the boat out of Dublin Bay and sailed across the sea to England in the hope of making their fortunes and returning home. Several years later, only one, Jackie Flavin makes it home, but does so in a coffin. The Kings of the Kilburn High Road takes place on the day that the winners and losers of the group meet up to drink to Jackie Flavin’s memory and looks at their lives, lost dreams and their place in the new Ireland.”  - Jimmy Murphy

Apparently, this play deals with the aspirations of Irish emigrants in London in the 70s.  But Arambe produced it with an all-African cast to demonstrate that most migrants, whoever and wherever they are, will, more often than not, feel nostalgic and wish they did not have to leave their countries of origin in the first place. It was the same way that Irish people left these shores for other countries many decades ago in search of a better life that many Africans and Eastern Europeans are coming to Ireland now in pursuit of a better life. The questions the play poses are, do things usually turn out as expected for immigrants; and why, if not?
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Once Upon a Time & Not so Long Ago: A Double Bill
May 2006
O'Reilly Theatre

The uniqueness and originality of our developmental projects read more, Once Upon A Time & Not So Long Ago, the enthusiasm of the participants who took part in them and the enthusiastic reaction these projects have engendered in our audience were the reasons Arambe turned them into an evening-length performance for a five day run in the O’Reilly Theatre in May 2006.

The first half of the show, a fine-tuned version of Once Upon A Time, is set in Africa where the tradition of storytelling exists until it is disrupted by television, a symbol of modernity brought on stage by an African who returns to Africa after his sojourn abroad.

The second half, Not So Long Ago, begins with the arrival of some Africans in the West, in this case, Ireland. The idea is that television has exposed them to another world where the pasture is seemingly greener. As a result, they emigrate. Every immigrant however has a story - good or bad, depressing or uplifting - to tell. Not So Long Ago skilfully explores, in an entertaining way, the selected stories of African immigrants living in Ireland. This was the first time that Africans would be representing their personal experiences on an Irish stage, themselves.

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The Gods are Not to Blame
September 2003 Project Arts Centre & February 2004 O’Reilly Theatre


The Originial Cast of The Gods are Not to Blame

To officially launch Arambe Productions in February 2004, the production of The Gods Are Not To Blame, which was originally co-directed by Bisi Adigun and Jimmy Fay for the 2003 Fringe Festival, was revived for a nine-day run in O’Reilly Theatre, Dublin.

About the Play:

The Gods Are Not To Blame is a direct transposition of the theme of Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex to Nigerian soil by Ola Rotimi. Although Rotimi remains loyal to the plot of the original Greek play about a prophecy that a new-born child will grow up to kill his father and then marry his mother, his own version is peppered with Nigerian proverbs, song, music and dance. In The Gods, Odewale fulfils the prophecy because of his excessive love for his tribe. He is raised in another village from his father’s and kills a man who mocks his accent when they are fighting over the ownership of a farm. He later finds out that the man he kills, is his father and the woman he has married, is his mother.

In 2003 and 2004 Ireland that this play was produced, it was very relevant within Ireland’s emergent discourse of identity and ‘otherness’. The fundamental question The Gods asks is: what determines one’s identity? Is it our language, accent, parentage, colour of our skin, or place of birth?

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African Voices
March 16th 2003

Presented in the Project on the eve of the 2003 St Patrick’s Day Festival, African Voices is a one-off presentation to celebrate African oral tradition here in Ireland. The first part of the show featured African stories, African poems and fifty-three African proverbs while the second part included a stage adaptation of the BBC television game show, The Weakest Link; a performed reading of an extract from Abel Ugba’s novel Dear Mama; and a performance of an extract from Jimmy Murphy’s The Kings of The Kilburn High Road.  This project featured performers from Kenya, Liberia, Mozambique, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Somalia, South Africa and Zaire who are all living in Ireland.
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