Nigeria recently joined the rest of the world to celebrate the International Day of The Girl Child with the theme, “My Voice, Our Equal Future”. The celebration was significant being the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.
The Pen Creative Writing Workshop was organised by Nigerian Centre of PEN International, also known as PEN Nigeria, via The Creative Writing Webinar, which was attended by girls from all over Nigeria. The conference was moderated by Secretary General of PEN Nigeria, Dagga Tolar, while Kemi Bakare, aka Kemistree, a poet, thrilled the audience with poetry performances.
In his address of welcome, Folu Agoi, President, PEN Nigeria, said the celebration was meant to draw attention to the plight of girls and women across the world, in recognition of girls’ rights and the challenges they face all over the world.
“PEN Nigeria joins the rest of the world in calling for the empowerment of girls and women and the fulfillment of their great dreams and aspirations for a civilised human community. Girls, like boys, are entitled to basic human rights, such as rights to quality education and bodily autonomy,” he said.
He added: “Girls, like boys, are entitled to basic human rights, such as rights to quality education and bodily autonomy. What we at PEN Nigeria are clamouring for is the elimination of discrimination against women and girls.”
Dr Bose Afolayan, a lecturer at the University of Lagos, Yaba, and an award-winning playwright who wrote Once Upon an Elephant, which was shortlisted for the Nigerian Prize for Literature by the NNLG in 2018, said, “A play is unlike prose, which, essentially, deals with storytelling or narration; drama is that form of literature that needs the stage for its full and telling actualisation.
“It employs actors/actresses to impersonate or represent characters in a text on stage while drama and theatre can be used interchangeably. Drama can be read as literature, while theatre must be performed on stage with all its appertaining effects. Drama is live, because it is immediate and spontaneous. A play is, thus, that script that needs the stage for its full realisation. It is also a collaborative art. All good plays are about protagonists who desire something but are prevented from achieving it. This is the dramatic conflict.”
Afolayan urged the audience that, to write plays, they must be avid readers. For example, they should see how other writers or established playwrights have captured the audience’s imagination, emotion and intellect. Also, they should have an idea, a passion, a discussion or debate that they would like to contribute to.
Olatunbosun Taofeek, a lecturer at Mountain Top University and a poet, fiction writer and playwright, emphasised that, for an individual to write a successful play, he or she must have a sound understanding of what a theatre looks like.
“For instance, in the youths drama, which is a specialised school of drama, there are various departments in that school, and there are various things which a good playwright should know. A good playwright should know how the play is to be directed, which helps the playwright in terms of the duration of the scenes and the narratives related to a scene. For you to be a playwright, you need to know the art of directing, which will assist him/her on the job.”