This work is an exploration into the writing, cultural and theatrical aesthetics of African writer and director, Ola Rotimi. It is a quest and search for an authentic African esthetic that has been transformed by at least two centuries of the European colonization. This work focuses on the aesthetic dimensions of the Ori Olokun theatre under the artistic direction of Ola Rotimi. It reviews Ola Rotimi's vision and impact with the Ori Olokun Company, and his quest to formulate a truly authentic African theatre, void of the imported European sensibility and colonially inherited aesthetic. The unique creative achievement of Rotimi's work at the Ori Olokun theatre, is that it evolved out of the ivory towers of the University, an 'unfriendly' territory as far as the indigenous theatre is concerned. Ola Rotimi dedicated his art to exploring the traditional/indigenous artistic expressions of the Nigeria people at a point when the African aesthetic had completely lost ground to the European value system. Three of Rotimi's historical plays are analyzed to understand and locate his historical perspective.
Rotimi tackles the controversial issue of an appropriate language for the African theatre, an issue that has dominated African theatre for the past half century. His solution is that writers must 'tamper with the English language to temper it's Englishness'. Clearly, what makes Rotimi unique, is that he brings to his plays, the linguistic characteristics and nuances that are authentic to African people.
Dr. Adeniyi Coker, Jr. is currently Director of African American Studies and Associate Professor of Theatre at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He received the MFA in Theatre Directing from Brooklyn College - CUNY, and Ph.D. in African American Studies from Temple University in Philadelphia. His directing credits range from Off-Broadway productions in New York City, to television documentaries on PBS.
Foreword by Molefi Kete Asante; Preface; Acknowledgments; Introduction; 1. African Aesthetics; 2. Language and African Drama; 3. Ola Rotimi; 4. The Ori Olokum Theater; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.