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PHILOMENA: An Interview with a pr0stitute

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PHILOMENA: An Interview with a pr0stitute

In the last few weeks, the theatre and entertainment space has been awash with publicity materials on the stage play written and directed by one of Nigeria’s most creative actor, script writer and impresario, Bimbo Manuel (a Crabite).

Philomena, as a script, presents as an eclectic piece of drama which combines a blend of forms; absurdism, existentialism, satire, comedy, etc, adorning a garb of realism.

As a narrative, Philomena, is topical, timely, relevant and thought provoking; eliciting a sense of crude reality, frank realization and profound identification with Bimbo’s three characters (“dysfunctional professionals”); “an expired Prostitute” (Philomena); Monalisa Chinda-Coker/Tammy Abusi, “a frustrated teacher (Area); Ejike Asiegbu/Charles Inojie, and “a failed teacher” (Wesley); Francis Duru/Don Kester… Bimbo Manuel’s dramatic personages to my mind, are symbolic characters representing the larger spectrum of the tragedy of the subjugated, subdued, silenced and dumb paralysis of a neglected majority wallowing in poverty, deprivation and abandonment. Most of them failed in life because the system orchestrated it or neglected its responsibility toward them with reckless abandon. Throughout the play, these characters and marooned, ‘stuck’ in madam Philo’s beer parlor narrating their pasts, analyzing the present with a view to find meaning and perhaps essence in a future that may or not exist. They fantasize about it anyway.

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Significantly, there are many unique talking points about this production already. For some, it is the perfect timing of the production in the season of love (St. Valentine), for others, it is the media buzz around it, yet for some it is the assemblage of the choice artistes. More directly, the dramatist who doubles as the artistic director, all of the six major actors (Bimbo Manuel, Monalisa Chinda-Coker, Ejike Asiegbu, Tammy Abusi, Francis Duru, Charles Inojie & Don Kester… are all Crabites (graduates of the University of Port Harcourt Arts Theatre, The Crab, most of whom have been major stakeholders in Nollywood, post graduation). Essentially, the The Crabites Association was officially inaugurated with elected officers on the 15th day of January 2022 in Port Harcourt with a vision to become one of the foremost brands in theatre and entertainment practice in Nigeria. This production produced by trio of Bikiya Graham-Douglas, Bimbo Manuel and Monalisa Chinda-Coker under the Kike Production brand, may well be the catalyst to greater collaborations from the stable of The Crabites Association.

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The rehearsals have been intense, rigorous and professional. Camping began in Abuja from the 15th of January and continued in Port Harcourt since the 26th of January, the intent is unequivocal, if people yearn for live theatre at its best, we are poised to take it a volume higher with every actor bringing their A game on stage from the 11th thru 14th of February 2022, at the Atlantic Hall of the Hotel Presidential, Port Harcourt.

Details of the dates & time: 11th February 2022 – 7pm; 12th February – 4pm & 7pm; 13th February – 4pm & 7pm; 14th February – 7pm. Tickets Prices; N5000 Regular, N10,000 VIP, N20,000 VVIP, Tables – N250,000 and N500,000 respectively.

Ticket outlets: Presidential Hotel, Kilimanjaro Eateries, Market Square or visit www.ariiyatickets.com/event/philomena.

On a critical note, this project has afforded some younger generation of theatre professionals a unique opportunity to learn the craft in a workshop fashion; a style bequeathed to us by the legendary professor Ola Rotimi. Some students who are directing and acting majors who are now part of the cast are relishing the opportunity to see the discipline and work ethics of their senior colleagues, first hand. This is one of the intangible benefit of such collaborations.

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In sum, when Crabites converge to claim Philomena from the clutches of prostitution, the mood is stirred, the tension of an enthralling stage play is palpable before an audience that shall be gripped with a total theatre experience this Valentine season in Port Harcourt. This is a must see production as there are invaluable lessons to glean beyond the entertainment value it offers. Trust me!

Postscript: The possibility of a tour is in the works as inquiries are ongoing. So, watch out, Philomena may be in a city near you soon.

Don Kester…
(Publicity Secretary, The Crabites Association
&
Wesley, Philomena:Interview with a Prostitute)

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