THE SUCCESS OF THE STAGING OF THE PLAY “AN EMPTY KINGDOM” By Ebi Robert










My first play is “Deep Drowse”. Deep drowse was written at a time when I began unveiling my dream the most of being a renowned writer. But when I returned to the dusty but not forgotten pages of the work, I decided to develop into writing, a revolutionary story that had been in my mind, “AN EMPTY KINGDOM”, not the dusted pages of Deep Drowse; my dusty but complex play. I created my own world with characters in it and put into their mouths, many words. Among the words they were to speak, proverbs and adages out of God’s box of wisdom were employed; Creativity in its best form. Soon, the play was ripe for editing. Editing was done, followed by a publication in Partridge-Africa-Author House. Mr. Eweke Joshua, a graduate of English Language of the Niger Delta University did the first touch, followed by Prof. Mutiu Olawuyi, an author who only did a little touch on structure based on my instructions. After failing to do a perfect proof-reading on the play on my own part, the play was published with some errors. This caused a hiatus to my zeal of advertising the play on media and other outlets pending when a supposed revised version of the play is published in Nigeria, also owing to the fact the cost of the play outside Nigeria is costly considering the falling value of the naira. In other to improve on the revised version, Prof Brigitte Poirson, a French writer and Lecturer was approached. The Learned Professor edited the piece further, crossing some “T’s” and doting some “I’s”. Bulkybon Books in Lagos owned by Adje Mudiaga a journalist and a Presidential award winning writer was approached. Adje Mudiaga became the fourth person to give a touch to the book. During this period, Prof Carter Kaplan, an American Professor was approached for the writing of an afterword of the play. The learned Professor directed me to Andrew Singer, lecturer in European literary cultures, literary translation and creative writing, who was busy at that time. Professor Carter Kaplan then went a step further to publish a “Call to writing an afterword” on his blog. However, after sometimes, when a volunteer wasn’t forth coming, Prof Brigitte Poirson wrote a wonderful forward for the play. The play was later submitted to Michael Mulvihill, an Irish writer and writer of Diabolis of the Dublins who gave the first audio review of the play followed by Dr. Suguna, an Indian Associate professor who also gave a comment of the play, now on the pulp. The play was eventually published after an anonymous Editor did a final touch on the play, thus making the play to be edited by five Editors. My dream eventually came through.
Later, plans for the launching of the play began. Through the Assistant Secretary of the Association of Nigeria Authors, Bayelsa State Chapter, I met with Dr. Benedict Binabai, a famous playwright in Bayelsa State. Sir, agreed to write a review of the play after our meeting. This became the third review of the play after Mr. Pere owei, a graduate of English and Literary Studies of the Delta State University who was the second to review the play. The launching came and gone, though with less success due to low turnout.
Before this time I classified myself as a Play-writer other than a playwright because the play was criticized as not being stage-able. Nevertheless, after the review on stage, Dr. Ben Benabai told me that I am a playwright because the play is stageable. This came as a big shocker.
 Plans for the staging of the play then began. The script was sent out to the various persons that were to act different roles. The play was to be staged on December 2016, but due to some reasons, it was shifted to early 2017. I waited to get the date after waiting for a while. Soon I was told that the date had been fixed. Low and behold, coincidentally, the staging of the play occurred on my birthdate.
Publications were made on social media, inviting the general public to the event. Many wished me well. Some promised to come, while others gave reasons why they could not which is a usual occurrence. The day eventually came and invited friends stormed the outside of the theatre waiting for the time. The time for the staging as shown on the banner was 5:00 pm at the Niger Delta University. However, due to some challenges the play started late close to 7:00 pm, if not exactly 7.
The drums beaters started beating their drums flavoured with songs from the background. The light went off and when flashed, some groups of characters stormed the stage in a sorrowful mood. The first narrator, who was depicted as an old woman, spoke with an aged voice yet fakish. The farmers, hunters and old women cried with eyes of hypocrisy, with the maidens walking into the stage with blood stains on their white customs. The supposed character of Duadogi who sat with the farmers walked onto the stage speaking words that was a combination of mine and the cast’s creativity, I suppose. This was the prologue. The beast who pulled out the liver from the supposed Duadogi and other actions displayed were all but one act worthy of surprise.
Scenes after scenes past, with much suspense following. The casts reproduced the lines well with little errors and little additions bringing out the beauty in the work. On and on the play progressed until the last scene. I turned back to see the Kings of Opoama and Odioma as only one man matched out in a kingly regalia. I was sure the lines of the kings were among the lines removed to shorten the play. The time came for the crowing of the king; the scene everyone was waiting for. Duadogi was eventually crowned against the will of the people. The suspense was broken and then everyone waited for the resolution. Sikigbo, as created, urged the people to leave the land hence justifying the name of the play. Although, critics criticized the resolution of the play, when it has not yet been acted on stage, the end appealed to the emotion of the audience, leading to a great applaud from the crowd including myself thereby disapproving the points raised by the critics.
At the end of the play, after the speech of Dr. Benedict Benabai, I was called upon to make comments about the performance of the play. That I did, appreciating the entire staff and the students of the theatre Arts department, Niger Delta University for their great work and zeal to encourage a young writer like me. I revealed to them the fact that Theatre Art was actually my dream course, hence my love for the theatre. Though today, I am a graduate of Law, I am happy I am now part of the theatre.
I am happy for the success of the staging of the play. But there are some things I did not say right there which I feel like saying now:
1)      The youngster who acted the role of IFIFIE was actually my best character followed by the youth who acted the role of Duadogi. The youngster who acted the role of IFIFIE was exceptional in her demonstration. I was shocked to find out that a female was disguised to act that role. Her movement on stage, facial expression and body movement were acts Nollywood should not miss. What I admired most about the youth who acted the role of Duadogi was his voice, and action. He invested so much life to the play as if he was in the mind of the writer when the play was written. According to one commentator: “He acts like Pete Edochie”. The character, Sikigbo and Tuaton were also great in performance. I appreciate them all.
2)      The staging of the play was on my own birthdate, hence I am happy to say that the theatre Arts department gave me one of the greatest gifts of my life.
3)      I appreciate all my friends that visited the theatre to make my day beautiful. My brethren in the Lord, course mates and well wishes, as well as my own uncle, Uncle Deyenriru Emina. I appreciate you all and wish you God’s speed. It is my serious promise that I will never stop writing; I will continue to write and give my best to humanity. I will never stop to speak the words of truth through the pen. Am happy my work is appreciated by the people of the world, as information reaching me shows that Europeans also have interest in the work. I will make the Ijaw nation proud. I will let the world know that militancy is not the only activity the Ijaw youths are known for. I will let them know we are not lazy and that there is no difference between the Ijaw man, the African man and the rest of the world. “Belief lies in hope, and hope is future’s real world. But it is men’s place to make it real.” I am happy I have made my hope real through God.
4)      Special Thanks to the Almighty God for the wisdom supplied. I dedicated this work to him and to he shall all glory be continually ascribed to.

CAST
Tuaton – Manson Timinidubamo
Sikigbo – Ogbenyeasom Justice
Alayingi – Ogun Cynthia
Finta – Victory Ibegi
Duadogi – Eyenghe Tarimobowei
Koko – Kosu Taribolou Edric
Old man 1 – Jackson E. Jeffrey
Oko – Otame Kingsley
Ififie – Lawrence Favour Paul
Sia – Mission Yasombozibe Norye
Yanate – Sieyefa Taribalate Jesse
Tompre – Timadi Preye Peculiar
Miete – Harry Neranidumon Ikuli
Pagaye – James Nengimote Victor
Old Woman – Mac-Moses Totenami
Old Woman – Fensai Oyeintonyiseigha
Guard 1 – Olei Azibanabane Ako
Guard 2 – Ubaka .A. Adams
Narrator  1– Warmate Justina
Narrator  1– Faith Adeyemi Hosea

Crew
Course Lecturer – Dr. Rudolph Kansese
Stage Manager – Manson Timidubamo
Sound – Barnabas Titus

Costume/Make-up
Itua Banigo Ingokonimibo
Evans Victoria Seiyefa Jesse
Jack Favour
Warmate Justina - Eyenegne Tarimobowei
Fenessai Oyeintonyiseiga - Mission Yasombozie
Lighting – Success (Johnbosco)                                            Set Designer – Innocent John Omiloli

Properties
Owouwari David
Manson Timi
Eyeneghe Tarimobowei
Seiyefa Jesse
Ramsons Solid Tou
Otame Kingsley
Mission Yasombozibe
Mac-Moses Totename
Vostory Ayibapreyeseigha
Ebuti Ebokumaro
Gideon Betty
Magnimor Dorbiye
Onajite Efe Blessing
Isukuru Gloria Urir

Orchestra
Alfred Becky
Alandu patience
Evans Victoria
Itua-Banigo Ingokonbonimi
Ogun Cynthia
Ubaka .A. Adams
Jack Favour
Hosea Faith Adeyemi
Eyeneghe Tarimobowei
Villagers
Fortune. O. Ukadike
Inoru Prete
Ubaka .A. Adams
Bowei Fidelia Dikeh
Itua Banigo Incrokonimibo
Gideon Betty Okoroko
Ebutu Ebokumo
Magnimor Dorbiye
Olei Azibanabhel
Fufeyin Tarabenabo
Onajite Efe Blessing
Owuwari Davia
Jack Favour
Isaiah Numotimi Fred
Joshua Totti Oviezibe

Written by Ebi Robert                                                                                 Directed by Fred Marius


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