Originally produced as a full scale production in Nigeria in 2013 and subsequently workshop produced for the UK stage at the Theatre Royal Stratford East in 2015, this music theatre adaptation by Rotimi Babatunde of one of Africa’s most popular contemporary novels written by Lola Shoneyin will finally be given its British premiere at the ground-breaking Arcola theatre in London next year.
The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives is a scandalous new play featuring original contemporary live Yoruba music, songs and dance.
PLOT & THEMES
Our story is set in Nigeria and involves an ambitious polygamous husband (Baba Segi), his four wives, an extraordinary household of servants and beguiling children. The tale is seen as a commentary on the sanctity of marriage, in which the central character’s (a prosperous middle-aged man of robust appetites, the patriarch of a large household) bewildering lifestyle leads to an unexpected devastating consequence.
When Baba Segi woke up with a bellyache for the sixth day in a row, he knew it was time to do something drastic about his fourth wife's childlessness.
For Baba Segi, his collection of wives and gaggle of children are a symbol of prosperity, success, and a validation of his manhood. All is well in this patriarchal home until Baba arrives with wife number four: a quiet, college-educated, young woman named Bolanle. Jealous and resentful of this interloper who is stealing their husband's attention, Baba Segi's three wives begin to plan her downfall. How dare she offer to teach them to read, they whisper. They vow to teach her a lesson instead. What they don't know is that Bolanle hides a terrible secret - a secret that unwittingly exposes the deception and lies upon Baba Segi's household rests.
A stirring tale of men and women, mothers and children, servitude and independence, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives illuminates the common threads that connect the experiences of all women: the hardships they bear, their struggle to define themselves, and their fierce desire to protect those they love.
The play's themes; status of women, slave labour, power, allegiance, education, gender equality, ambition, murder, tolerance and understanding are prevalent in Nigeria as well as contemporary Britain.
This will be The Elufowoju jr Ensemble's first major production in the UK and will feature many of our leading performers from stage, film and television..
BLUES FOR AN ALABAMA SKY
by Pearl Cleage
Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, London
THE SECRET LIVES OF BABA SEGI'S WIVES
Novel by Lola Shoneyin
Stage Adaptation by Rotimi Babatunde
Ake Festival, Abeokuta
Author Lola Shoneyin
Stage Adaptation Rotimi Babatunde
Director / Music Arrangements Femi Elufowoju, jr
Original Music & Lyrics Oyebade Dosunmu
Original Choreographer Uche Onah
Choral Arrangement (NG) Deborah Ohiri-Oletubo
Anthony Offiong, Ayo-Dele Edwards,
Christina Oshunniyi, Habeeb Ayodeji,
Joshua Akinola, Julius Obende,
Martins Iwuagwu, Mawuyon Ogun,
Omonor Somolu, Rita Edward, Toritseju Ejoh,
Uche-Chika Elumelu and Uzor Osimkpa
THE HOTEL CERISE
by Bonnie Greer
Theatre Royal Stratford East, London
Patron, The Elufowoju jr Ensemble
Noma joined The Elufowoju jr Ensemble as its first Patron in June 2017.
Noma has a long standing relationship with its founder and has previously featured in his productions with Tiata Fahodzi and at the Royal Court.
Noma is currently starring as Hermione Granger in the original West End run of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child for which she won her second Olivier Award last month.
The Elufowoju jr Ensemble’s Creative Director Femi Elufowoju, jr said:
“We are humbled by Noma's association. Not only is she one of this country's leading and respected stage performers of African descent, Noma is also an incredible insightful advocate of our work. As Patron of The Ensemble we anticipate experiencing further growth and integration from the fringe to the mainstream of British theatre culture”
Noma Dumezweni said:
“It is a pleasure to be able to support the work and company as a patron for Elufowoju jr Ensemble. We are now edging towards being Elders! That's the privilege - to be able to be at this vantage point and nurture writing coming out of the African diaspora. The stories are many, and I look forward to witnessing the future”
The Elufowoju jr Ensemble was set up in 2015 with the sole purpose of creating World Class African theatre for the International stage. The company is in its pre-production phase of producing Rotimi Babatunde’s stage adaptation of Lola Shoneyin's The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives at the Arcola Theatre in June 2018
Inspired by Lola Shoneyin's Award-Winning novel, a new dramatization will reach millions of radio listeners worldwide this autumn. Records in August for transmission on BBC Radio 4 Wednesday 25th September 2019.
Femi Elufowoju jr produces and directs.
Femi elufowoju, jr
Performer & Director