Progress and Utopia in Bode Sowande's Babylon Trilogy

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Okagbue, Osita (2009)
  • Publisher: Adonis & Abbey Publishers
  • Subject: T500

Bode Sowande belongs to a second generation of Nigerian dramatists, which includes others such as Femi Osofisan, Kole Omotoso, Nasiru Akanji, Olu Obafemi, Tess Onwueme and Tunde Fatunde, who advocate a radical aesthetic for the theatre, different from the relatively conservative dramaturgy of the older generation of playwrights such as Wole Soyinka, J. P Clark-Bekederemo, Ola Rotimi and Zulu Sofola. Unlike the first generation dramatists who saw theatre as a medium for recording or articulating individual perceptions of communal or personal tensions and crises - see plays such as Soyinka’s The Strong Breed, Kongi’s Harvest and Death and the King’s Horseman, Clark-Bekederemo’s Song of a Goat, Masquerade and The Raft, Sofola’s Wedlock of the Gods and King Emene, and Rotimi’s Kurunmi and The Gods Are Not To Blame - the new generation are more concerned with utilising the theatre to articulate and/or search for a more egalitarian social order. For them, the theatre can be a useful context and tool for interrogating social systems and processes, as well as for exploring possibilities for initiating and achieving radical social change. For the new generation, the subject of their plays is the society and not the individuals caught up in its social throes; the result is that, unlike their predecessors, their theatre is usually neither concerned with individual consciousness and psychology, nor with personal tragedies and joys, but rather with opening up for scrutiny and analysis, the dynamics and tensions of social processes and systems. What they advocate is not that the theatre can, by itself, change society, but rather that it can be a site as well as a medium or language for myth and ideological deconstruction, contestations of histories, to allow for new and perhaps alternative readings and meanings. This means that the theatre, while it is not change or revolutionary itself, can be converted into a rehearsal for change or revolution
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