Juggling Is Deep!

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Written By Omoye Uzamere

Last month, I had the opportunity to produce a series of performances for Thespian Muse Productions.

The theatre production was for the launch of Joseph Endy Ogbuka’s compilation of poems, DEEP, on the 4th of June.

I was pleased with the reception it got, as everyone who attended had glowing remarks on how beautiful it was. But that beauty came at a price.

Shortly after we agreed on the terms of production, I was invited to a reading and got cast to play one of the principal characters in a movie but my heart broke when these two opportunities were doing Clash Of The Calendar Titans. I panicked!

As an actress my first consideration was to keep the acting job, but I could not renege on my commitment, only weeks to production date and… I have this tiny little rule about refunds. * insert smug smile *

Suddenly I remembered some of my colleagues who hop from one set to another – Island to Mainland, even outside the state for that matter – and I asked myself, “Do they have two heads?? Baby geh, you’re gonna do them both and you’re gonna do them well!”

So I went to work, resolving to do whatever it took. I commenced shoot and luckily, my scenes wrapped up in good time. But this is not about how I got to do two jobs at the same time. Big deal. This is about the decisions I made to simplify my work:

– Choosing a rehearsal venue close to home and my movie location.

– Delegating to competent people. You are only as strong as your weakest link and there was literally no weak link on our team, as each person had multiple skills, both in performance and production.

– Hiring professionals. It’s about the right attitude to work: commitment, competence, and a sense of ownership.

So, when I came down with malaria a week to the show and had to work from my sick bed, I realized the true value of my squad. Team work does make the dream work. We pulled it off!

The event itself started nicely; the MC was very indulgent of me as I shared my vision of one continuous event with no (time) lapses in the flow. Thanks Deji! Immaculate sang the national anthem beautifully and there were solo performances from Koli, Feranmi and Joseph’s super talented daughters, Kachi and Olachi (whom I have decided to mentor, once their parents approve). There were no speeches; no it was not that kind of book launch.

The show started with a marvelous Oriki about God, as the Chanteuse made her way from within the startled audience to the stage where she danced. The other performers joined her as each did their verse and dance solo. It was a seamless flow of music, dance, poetry and drama. Lights danced on the stage, radiating on the colourful costumes, the graphic designs were personalized for each scene/song/poem and were just right! My favourite was the (let’s call it an) avatar for ‘Soul Dance’ – matchstick men dancing on the screen, in sync with the music and performers on stage, as three turbaned ladies did the backing vocals – Omoye Uzamere, Lydia Idakula Sobogun and Gift Okpa. On and on the show went, the audience singing along, cheering and even dancing most of the evening. They thoroughly enjoyed themselves and the only complaint was that they wanted it longer.

It was three-way collaboration, with Ultima Studios providing the venue and technical support and we created something beautiful! The convener was proud to see his work come to life, but I couldn’t rest until I heard the words from his own mouth and even though I had to come on stage to take a bow, I share that success with the whole team.

I have many people to thank…

Joseph Endy Ogbuka for hiring me on a simple recommendation and for trusting Thespian Muse with your work. We look forward to making more magic together.

Ultima Studios, for being a great team and for being so amazing at what you do. PS: that space is food for the hungry soul! Y’all are the best!

Lydia Idakula Sobogun, my sister, friend and constant collaborator for bringing your creative mind to the music and directing. Blessing Azubike, for the way you manage a project like it’s your baby! Gift, you are a versatile artist and a valuable production team member on and behind the scene.

Delphine Okobah, for coming through on the graphics, Rising Phoenix for the rehearsal space and Jaden Kitchen for oh-so-amazing food!

Thumbs up to the amazing cast! My MVPs, Funmi Abe, Tosin Adeyemi and Austin Onuoha. Zaynab Balogun and Tolu Aina joined us less than a week to performance but literally stole hearts. Wura Samba and Tosin Oguntayo, you are committed musicians and I am glad to have worked with you. Thank you all.

One of the most valuable skills I have discovered is the ability to multitask. Performing alone can be a juggling act – if only to oscillate between the demands of your character and that of your real life. When production is your real life, then you do need food for the gods. One of my greatest achievements at Thespian Muse will be work that I can be proud of and this is my driving force. Sometimes, I’m a monster and sometimes I rein myself in with patience, taking it one scene at a time.

I slayed. Now, I’m lying in wait…

Photo Credit: Akinlowo Olawoye

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