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Kunle Afolayan – Why stage plays will not die

Nigerian filmmaker Kunle Afolayan has said that stage plays will not die because there are still people in the industry committed and dedicated to the craft.

Afolayan while speaking in a Saturday interview on Channels’ Sunrise programme discussed the evolution of Nigerian cinema and the creative aspects of the stage plays versus films debate.

He noted that there are great professionals committed to stageplays and have continued to do stage productions in Nigeria.

When asked to talk about the ecosystem of stage, cinema, and streaming platforms, he noted that “stage is something that has been there and will continue to be there,” but noted that “the thing with stage is, the stage does not have a quick turnaround.”

Elaborating on the more time-intensive process of staging a play, Kunle Afolayan explained, “Stage is more detailed. Stage, even just to re-rehearse sometimes would take six months depending on how ambitious or how detailed the play is.”

He contrasted the longer theatrical production timeline with the faster pace of moviemaking, saying, “You can do a film in three to six months, release it, and start working on the next one.” With plays, the director has to commit fully for an extended period. “For one year, you’re just locked, you know, to just one particular project,” Afolayan said.

This also impacts casting. “Nowadays, [actors] want to be on the set for five days,” according to Afolayan, “and as soon as they are done here, they move to the next one.”

He expressed concern that actors jumping quickly between projects “don’t pay attention to the details.”

Despite the challenges of staging theatrical productions, Afolayan stressed the importance of live performance.

“I’m from a travelling theater, travelling cinema background. “I am very particular about values, cultures,” he added.

“I think because of the likes of Bolanle Austin Peters, Joke Silver, and all of those guys, I don’t think stage will die.” He attributed this to them because, according to him, they have consistently continued to do stage productions from time to time.

Regarding the upcoming Netflix series offshoot of his original movie Anikulapo, which is scheduled for release later this year, he said, “Again, I’ve said this, and I think I’ve mentioned it then, the original idea, the Anikulapo original idea, was to make series, not a film.

“And this started like six, seven years ago. And then, you know, the working title then was Odu, like Oduifa. You know, but I shopped the idea around a little bit and it wasn’t flying.

“And when Netflix came and we had this meeting, they said, look, doing a series in local language and all of that seemed very ambitious, that why not try to make a film? And then if it’s good, then we can… And then we made a film.

“And the film was the most watched non-English film in the world globally and that opened up the conversation you know for the I mean to make the series afterward.”

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