BackTo Artword 2003-2004 season list

Artword Theatre, 75 Portland St
May 14 to 30, 2004
AfriCan Theatre Ensemble and
Artword Theatre present
Death and the
King's Horseman
by Wole Soyinka - Nobel prize winning playwright from Nigeria

directed by Ronald Weihs
choreography by Yinka Farinde
producer Modupe Olaogun
design by Judith Sandiford

Elesin, the King's Horseman: Donald Carr
Olohun-iyo, the Praise-Singer: Tony Adah
Iyaloja, Mother of the Market: Sistah Lois Jacob
Simon Pilkings, District Officer: Ian Morfitt
Jane Pilkings, his wife: Catherine Harrison
Olunde, eldest son of Elesin: Ayo Adewumi
Sergeant Amusa: Jude Idada
Joseph, houseboy to Pilkings: Chima Osakwe
Aide-de-Camp: Kurt Spenrath
Market women and girls:
Rebecca Fisseha, Funmi Olumade,
Consuela Smith, Randi MacQueen, Yemi Jiboye, Tolani Adeleke-Rufai, Toyin Dada, Dara Dada

Click here for Horseman flyer. Production photos: #1 Donald Carr , #2 and #3 market women
Reservations: 416-366-7723 x 290 (St. Lawrence Centre Ticket Line) or book online.
Previews (pay-what-you-can): May 14, 15 at 8:15 pm, May 16 at 4 pm
Tues and Wed at 8:15 pm: all tickets $15 at the door, no reservations
Thurs, Fri, Sat at 8:15 pm, Sunday matinée at 4 pm: regular $25, seniors/students $15
Groups / families: $15 / person. Call 416-408-1146
(Group=10 or more) (Family=1 or 2 adults + children)

Wole Soyinka's African Classic Featured in ATE's Sixth Season
AfriCan Theatre Ensemble is joining forces with Artword Theatre to tackle one of the most powerful plays of the 20th century - Wole Soyinka's Death and the King's Horseman. The play will be directed by Ronald Weihs, Artword's Artistic Director, and will open on May 18, 2004, running until May 30.
ATE and Artword have been closely associated since June, 1999, when Modupe Olaogun, ATE's Artistic Director, approached the newly-renovated theatre as a venue for its first production - Ola Rotimi's Nigerian retelling of the Oedipus story, The Gods Are Not to Blame. Since then, all ATE's major productions have been performed at Artword: Our Husband Has Gone Mad Again, also by Rotimi (2000), And the Girls in their Sunday Dresses, by South African author Zakes Mda (2001), Jean and Dinah, a co-production with Trinidad's Lord Street Theatre (2002), and Anowa, by Ghana's Ama Ata Aidoo (2003).
Co-operation between ATE and Artword has been ongoing, but informal. This year, the two companies decided to pool their energy to produce Soyinka's ambitious work. Weihs' background in ensemble theatre is also seen as appropriate to the nature of the company. More than ever, this production will draw artistic inspiration (and resources) from the African-Canadian community in Toronto.
The story, set in Nigeria in 1945, is inspired by a true incident. A Yoruba King has died, and the great chief Elesin, the King's Horseman, is expected to accompany him to the next world. The local colonial District Officer intervenes to save the chief's life, not comprehending the calamitous impact this will have. The chief's son, who has returned from studying medicine in England, tries to head off the catastrophe.
The script switches between a rich, metaphorical prose derived from Yoruba ceremonial language and the clipped, spare style of the English colonialists - all mixed together with poetry and song. The action is punctuated by the evocative voice of the Yoruba talking drum, an instrument with a tonal flexibility that allows it to imitate language. Despite its dark core, many of the scenes are exuberantly comic. The market scenes teem with life, colour, dance and song - elements essential to the Yoruba spiritual worldview.
Wole Soyinka's plays range from satirical political commentary (Kongi's Harvest, Madmen and Specialists) to the tragic cadences of Death and the King's Horseman and The Strong Breed. He draws upon Yoruba myth and ceremonies, incantatory poetry, dance and music to connect the historical with the metaphysical, the timeless realm which unites the living, the dead, and the unborn. Throughout his career, Soyinka has fought against the effects of imperialism on Africa, and against authoritarian politicians and military dictators. He was imprisoned in 1967-69 for allegedly conspiring to aid the attempted secession of Biafra from Nigeria. In recent years Soyinka has been active in the pro-democracy movement in Nigeria. In 1986, Wole Soyinka became the first African awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
The ATE and Artword production of Death and the King's Horseman is produced by Modupe Olaogun, choreographed by Yinka Farinde, designed by Judith Sandiford, with lighting by Jason Golinsky.

For more information on the AfriCan Theatre Ensemble, visit their website.

For media information call Alicia Land at STAF: 416-703-2773 x 203