After about 15 years in comatose, the Wole Soyinka Theatre, Department of Theatre Arts, University of Ibadan, witnessed a renaissance of explosion of artistic creativity and spectacular musical, cultural dance and dramatic performances by veteran and young artistes recently.
Tagged, “An Evening at the Theatre,” the soiree featured legends including ace musician and folklorist, Jimi Solanke; former The Punch columnist and harmonica player, Tunde Fagbenle; visual artist and former The Guardian cartoonist, Bisi Ogubadejo; multi-instrumentalist, Anjola Aboderin; media mogul, Otunba Deji Osibogun; Gboyega Adelaja and Tunde Adegbola.
On hand were General Manager of Afro Space Network, Feyisayo Ilori and his crew of young, talented thespians, singers, dancers, comedians and comperes, who performed to a distinguished audience including UI Vice Chancellor, Prof. Idowu Olayinka; theatre icons – Prof Femi Osofisan, Bayo Oduneye, Laolu Ogunniyi as well as the university’s governing council and management members, staff and students.
The event was the unveiling of the newly refurbished theatre by an old student of the department, Osibogun, and part of ceremonies marking the 65th birthday of the chairman of Afro Space Network.
The theatre had gradually lost its past glory, attraction and patronage due to its physical deterioration until its recent upgrade by Osibogun.
He said: “So many of us have taken from the Nigerian society, but have failed to give back. I believe in the spirit of give and take and I want to make heaven. I want the new generation of students to gain and experience what we did in terms of quality training facility and environment, which are missing now.”
The VC, Prof Olayinka thanked Osibogun for coming to the rescue of the institution, noting that his gesture would assist in no small measure in fostering education, culture, the arts and entertainment that were the goals of establishing the theatre.
National Merit Award winner and prolific dramatist, Osofisan tasked the department with ensuring that the structure did not fall on bad times again, but even upgraded, remarking that it became rundown and dilapidated for so long because of lack of care and sustainable maintenance culture.
The theatre has witnessed the staging of epic drama performances of greats including Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, Osofisan, John Pepper Bekederemo Clarke, Zulu Sofola, Ola Rotimi and younger generations of thespians including Kunle Bamtefa, Yomi Obileye, Ben Tomoloju, Jahman Anikulapo, Kunle Folayan and Bimbo Akintola.