Joining the Arcola’s exciting and empowering production of Lola Shoneyin’s The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives, Patrice Naiambana (Barbershop Chronicles, National Theatre; The Caretaker, Bristol Old Vic), Jumoké Fashola (Inspirit, BBC Radio London’s Sunday Breakfast Show; Dirty Little Secrets, London Festival of Cabaret), Christina Oshunniyi (Ife, Queen Elizabeth Hall and Africa Center; One Session, First Star Studios), Layo-Christina Akinlude (The Taming of the Shrew, Shakespeare’s Globe; The Cane, Bush Theatre), and Marcy Dolapo Oni (Iya-Ile, Soho Theatre; The Marcy Project, OHTV) will appear as Baba Segi and his wives.
The cast will also include Ayo-Dele Edwards (The Estate, Soho Theatre; The Lion and the Jewel, Royal Court Theatre), Tania Nwachukwu (The Dissidents, Tricycle Theatre; The Happy Theory, The Yard Theatre), Diana Yekinni (The Crucible, UK tour; Fringe First Winner Expensive Shit, Edinburgh Fringe), Ayan De First (Makinde, Ovalhouse; Ticket & Ties, Theatre Royal Stratford East), and Usifu Jalloh (Sweetpeter, UK tour; Ticket & Ties, Theatre Royal Stratford East).
The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives is a scandalous, engrossing tale of sexual politics and family strife in modern-day Nigeria. Lola Shoneyin’s bestselling novel bursts on to the stage in a vivid adaptation by Caine Award-winning playwright Rotimi Babatunde. Femi Elufowoju, jr directs a multi-talented West African ensemble in the UK premiere production, featuring live Yoruba music, songs and dance.
This exceptional production will be uniquely performed in the round in the Arcola’s main space using an ensemble featuring actor-musicians led by Ayan De First and Usifu Jalloh. At times, the entire ensemble becomes an acoustic band with traditional instruments used including Omele drum, Gbedu drum, Fulani flute, thumb pianos, shekeres, Iya Ilu talking drums, djembes, and Apala drum.
Baba Segi has three wives, seven children, and a mansion filled with riches. But now he has his eyes on Bolanle, a young university graduate wise to life’s misfortunes. When Bolanle responds to Baba Segi’s advances, she unwittingly uncovers a secret which threatens to rock his patriarchal household to the core.
Femi Elufowoju, jr comments, “Working in global theatre, this is arguably the most important piece I have had the good fortune of embracing. It takes stumbling upon an obscure, albeit enchanting, novel eight years ago to realizing its transition to national theatre stages in Nigeria and now the UK, to understand the true purpose and magic of crafting theatre. The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives encapsulates quite remarkably the universal theme of paternity fraud and human endurance, and is told through a riveting narrative accompanied by searing live music, song and dance. If it’s the last thing I present in British theatre – it’ll certainly be my proudest contribution to its grand design.”
Femi Elufowoju set up The Elufowoju jr Ensemble in 2015 with Thomas Kell with the sole purpose of creating exceptional World class African theatre with imaginative flair for the international stage. The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives is presented by The Elufowoju jr Ensemble and the Arcola Theatre.
Baba Segi / Ensemble Patrice Naiambana
Iya Femi / Ensemble Layo-Christina Akinlude
Iya Segi/ Ensemble Jumoké Fashola
Iya Tope / Ensemble Christina Oshunniyi
Bolanle / Ensemble Marcy Dolapo Oni
Mama Bolanle / Ensemble Ayo-Dele Edwards
Segi / Ensemble Tania Nwachukwu
Nurse / Ensemble Diana Yekinni
Tunde / Ensemble Ayan De First
Taju / Ensemble Usifu Jalloh
Author Lola Shoneyin
Script Adaptor Rotimi Babatunde
Direction and Music Femi Elufowoju, jr
Choreography Kemi Durosinmi
Costume Supervisor Shola Ajayi
Production Design ULTZ
Original Music and Lyrics Oyebade Dosunmu
Original Choreography Uche Onah
The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives plays at Arcola from 7 June until 21 July. Book your tickets here.