By Omiko Awa and Yemi Olakitan
THE society will be at its best when men and women play their natural roles, compliment one another, and swallow personal and gender prejudices. Man talk, Woman talk, one of the unpublished works of the late playwright, Ola Rotimi, humorously tells the chaos the society faces, when the sexes accuse each other instead of finding how they could harmoniously solve their problems.
Set in a courtroom, though devoid of the usual court technicalities and legal jargon, the play uses humour, arguments and counter arguments to present the views of two idealistic youthful contenders, Mike Osaga, and a sassy lady, Soye Ogunye, who accused each sex as being the main cause of the ills of the society. While Mike accused Soye of using her succulent female body to entice male folk to do her biddings, Soye countered it with the arguments that man’s sensibility lies upside down between his legs and that he uses his machismo to make ladies conform to his desires. And the urge to satisfy the male folks have made ladies to go the extreme to outdo one another, bleach their skin, dress cute, paint their faces and attached foreign hairs to their heads.
As this arguments and counter-arguments continue, the two-man jury, made up of a counselor, Professor Omola and a judge, becomes divided; the judge, a man, supports the male folk while the counselor, a woman takes side with the female gender. This created a wry humour that puts each character against the other. But in a twist of imagination the arguments change with the judge being carried away by the beauty and logical presentations of the lady contender, Soye Ogunye, especially when his son (a friend of the court) was invited to give evidence.
Flooring her opponent with her logical arguments, even when it was obvious, the judge reverses the result on the grounds that women are the cause of the troubles in our society; showing that women’s vote don’t count and things must be the way men want them.
Not meant to prove which gender is superior, but to uncover the complementary roles men and women play in the society, the play shows that if we must make the right impact in the society both sexes must forgo their egos, listen to one another and act the talk.
Speaking about the play, Dr. Edem Duke, the Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, said, “the play came at the right time. It’s high time we rejuvenate the theatre and provide platforms for the top government and corporate executives to unwind.
“Before coming here I spoke with the Director General of National Theatre to see if the days of traveling theatre could be brought back. We need to reactivate the scene, keep it active as a way to enliven the intellectual aspect of the Nigerian tourism, create platform for the academia to participate and as well provide platform for high executive officers both in public and private to unwind.”
Accompanying the minister was his predecessor, Chief Alabo Graham-Douglas, Bikiya’s father, who exuding satisfaction said, he had wanted her daughter to pursue other career, but with what he has seen, he is satisfied with the production and the calibre of people that have come to watch the play.
He called on corporate bodies and the necessary government agencies to partner with theatre practitioners to rejuvenate the theatre.
|Dr. Edem Duke, Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation|
Israel Eboh, the director of the play stated that the late playwright captured the Nigerian society of yesterday and today. The question Man Talk, Woman Talk, raises is that weather the Nigerian nation will still be talking rather than acting, using the age long debate between the sex as a subject matter.
“While all the issues raised are what every Nigerian is aware of and will continue to debate on the streets, homes, offices and our many assemblies, yet the issues have not only refused to go away, but have taken more daring form. For man to talk and woman to talk to bring about a society built on mutual respect, we must acknowledge the fact that to talk, we must learn to listen and understand one another and be ready to sacrifice our egos on the alter of collective good,” he added.
Bikiya Graham Douglas, chief operating officer of Beeta Universal Arts Foundation (BUAF), said Man Talk, Woman Talk is one of the rich Nigerian theatre heritage that need to be sustained for the enjoyment of this generation. “The play is in line with my organisation’s culture to rejuvenate the theatre in the country, educate and entertain the people.”
On whether the play would be shown in other parts of the country Bikiya said, “I would have loved to take it round the country, but I am constrained by funds. The greatest challenge facing theatre in the country is fund and the only way to overcome this, is when corporate organisations and private individuals partner with various theatre groups for stage production.”