Writing contemporary African drama

A pre-show discussion on Pandora’s Box and writing contemporary African drama. Free for ticket-holders.

Thursday 30 October, 6.30-7.30pm

How far has the image of Africa in UK theatre changed? How do today’s African writers depict contemporary Africa? As Africa rises, what kinds of storytelling reflect both the burgeoning potential and ongoing challenges of the continent? In the UK,  how best can theatre express both the successes of British-Africans and the complexities of communities still grappling with damaging traditions? And still entertain! Join writer/producer Ade Solanke and a panel of distinguished guests to explore the issues.


Ade Solanke

is an award-winning playwright and screenwriter. Her company, Spora Stories, tells the dynamic stories of the African diaspora and produced Pandora’s Box. With sell-out performances in London, it was nominated for Best New Play in the Off West End Theatre Awards and shortlisted for the 2014 Nigeria Prize for Literature, Africa’s biggest literary award. The play won Best Playwright at both the African Film Awards and Nigerian Entertainment Awards. It tours the UK in Autumn 2014 to Mark Nigeria’s centenary.
Ade is a judge for the Nollywood Movies Awards (NMA) in Lagos and the RAS Baobab Awards and ZAAFA Awards in London. Her film scripts have been quarter-finalists and semi-finalists in the US Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’s annual Nicholl Screenwriting contest in LA, where she worked as a story analyst for several Hollywood Studios, including Sundance, New Line and Disney.
She has developed and delivered scriptwriting courses and masterclasses at Goldsmiths College, University of London, London Screenwriters Workshop, BOB Expo in Abuja, Pan-Atlantic University, Lagos, African International Film Festival, Caalabar, and the African Womens’ Film Forum run by AWDF in Accra. She was the British Film Institute’s first Writer-in-Residence, with the support of the Royal Literary Fund, and is a member of the BFI’s African Odysseys Committee, which programmes a monthly series of African films at London’s National Film Theatre. Earlier in her career, she was voted ‘London’s Top Youth Entrepreneur’ for her writing business.
Ade has an MFA in Film and Television (Screenwriting) from the University of Southern California (USC) School of Cinematic Arts where she was a Fulbright Fellow and Phi Beta Kappa International Scholar.  She has an Honours Degree in English Literature from the University of Sheffield, and a PG Diploma in Creative Writing from Goldsmiths, University of London. She’s currently developing scripts about African artists in Georgian and sixties London. She tweets @sporastories.


Debbie Ariyo OBE

is founder and executive director of AFRUCA – Africans Unite Against Child Abuse. She founded AFRUCA in May 2001 in realisation of the growing incidences of child abuse among newly arrived African children. Debbie has worked hard to nurture the charity and see it grow from strength to strength – with a Head Office in London, a Centre for African Children and Families in Manchester and projects across West Africa. The charity works with many stakeholders to impact on the lives of vulnerable children and focuses on key issues around educating and raising awareness of child safeguarding issues, policy influencing and advocacy and the provision of support for families in crisis. AFRUCA tackles key issues in the UK black community including child trafficking and exploitation, branding children and witches, female genital mutilation, as well as the issue of physical chastisement among african families. Debbie has received many awards for her work at AFRUCA. In June 2011, she was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for her work with children and families.


Dr. Sola Adeyemi

teaches African and Intercultural Performances at the University of Greenwich, London. His research is in postcolonial theatre and performance studies, particular the works of Femi Osofisan; diasporic African and British theatre, especially the works of Kwame Kwei-Armah, Oladipo Agboluaje and Ade Solanke as they explore the politics of identity on the British stage; and the performance of creative writing – short stories and poetry. He is currently working on a book, ‘Osofisan’s Vision of Change in his Dialectical Reading of History and Political Discourse’. He is the Editor of Opon Ifa Review, a Literature and Performance Journal.


Professor Osita Okagbue

holds a BA, MA and PhD in Drama and Theatre from the University of Nigeria,Nsukka, the University of Ibadan, Nigeria and the University of Leeds. He teaches at Goldsmiths, University of London, where he is the Deputy Head of Department, Director of Postgraduate Studies and Postgraduate Senior Tutor. Prof Okagbue is the founding President of the African Theatre Association (AfTA) and founding/current Editor of African Performance Review (APR). He is also an Associate Editor for Routledge’s Theatres of the World Series. His published works include African Theatres and Performances (Routledge 2007), Culture and Identity in African and Caribbean Theatre (Adonis and Abbey, 2009), and African Theatre: Diasporas, co-edited with Christine Matzke, and PerformativeInter-Actions in African Theatre 1, 2 & 3, co-edited with Dr KeneIgweonu. Professor Okagbue serves on the Board of Governors of Collective Artists Theatre Company.


Gbolahan Obisesan

is an award-winning playwright and director living in London. His new play ‘How Nigeria Became: A Story, And A Spear That Didn’t Work’ (which he also directs) is now  on at the Unicorn Theatre till Nov 9th. He is also currently under commission by Eclipse Theatre Company.

Gbolahan has amassed an incredibly strong repertoire of work. ‘Mad About The Boy’ (supported by National Theatre Studio) went on to win a Fringe First Award for best play, before having a national tour to venues including the Unicorn Theatre, the Bush Theatre and the Young Vic. A revival of Barrie Keefe’s ‘Sus’ also bestowed him with the Jerwood Award for directing, after a run at The Young Vic and a successful UK tour. Other works include ‘Pigeon English’ (Bristol Old Vic/National Youth Theatre/Edinburgh Festival), four plays as part of the ’66 BOOKS’ project (Bush Theatre/Westminster Abbey), and more recently ‘We Are Proud to Present’ (Bush Theatre).
He was also one of the six writers and the only British writer on Rufus Norris’ ‘Feast’, commissioned by the Royal Court and The Young Vic; was the resident director for the National Theatre’s production of ‘FELA!’ in the Olivier Theatre, and was the Associate Director to Dominic Cooke for The Comedy of Errors and the RSC’s Julius Caesar alongside Greg Doran.
The panel will be chaired by

Dele Meiji Fatunla

Dele Meiji Fatunla is Communications Manager for the Royal African Society where he leads on the co-ordination of the RAS’s communications and digital transition transition – and contributes to the RAS’ wider progamme of culture, politics and business. He runs the RAS’ new event listings and culture project, Gateway for Africa, and provides strategic communications support for the RAS’s literature festival, Africa Writes, and its annual film festival. He is also a writer whose articles, creative writing and commentary have appeared in various publications including the BBC, Vox Africa, and The Huffington Post, the Pan-African digital publication, Jalada, Open Road Review, and Saraba Magazine. He is the founder and a co-convener of the Yoruba Conversation Club, and a member of the Britain Nigeria Educational Trust. He tweets @delemeiji.