DJ Bullock theatre contest: Dramatising a nation in crises

FOR the second year, the DJ Bullock Endowment Fund Committee organised a theatre contest among public secondary schools in Oyo State to celebrate the memory of the late Derek John Bullock, a former principal of the Government College, Ibadan, Oyo State.

Incidentally, the second edition of the contest coincided with the 10th anniversary of the transition of Bullock, a British who spent a larger part of his working life in Nigeria and whose remains were interred in Ibadan.

Speaking during the second edition of the contest, the chairman of DJ Bullock Endowment Fund Committee, Mr Banwo Smith, eulogised his former principal for his genuine concern for those in his care.

Mr Smith, who was a student at the Government College, Ibadan between 1959 and 1965, revealed how the late DJ Bullock supported many of his students through school.

“DJ Bullock assisted me in securing admission to a university in England and paid my first year tuition.

“That was how he assisted several other students, and what we are doing in his memory is just what he would have loved to do if he were still alive,” Mr Smith said.

The chairman of the panel of judges, Dr Tunde Awosanmi of the Department of Theatre Arts, University of Ibadan, commended the organisers of the contest, saying it would help develop critical thinking among students in the state.

Six schools participated in the final contest, which has as its theme, A Nation in Crises.

The first performance was by Queens School, Apata, with the title, Yahoo, Yahoo. The students focused on young adults’ quest for money, to the extent of consulting herbalists for rituals.

Kayode, the lead character, engaged a herbalist for money ritual, but in the end, developed mental problems.

St Anne’s School, Molete, performed Last Hope, where they highlighted the challenges a woman went through following the death of her husband and how one of her children, in a bid to improve the family fortune, joined a robbery gang. In the end, boy was arrested by the police.

The lesson in Last Hope is that no matter what one is passing through, engaging in illegal acts is not enough justification.

The third school, Yejide Girls Grammar School, Molete, performed Religion is a Choice. The performance centered on Zainab, who was from a strict Muslim family, but one day, her parents died in an auto accident and she was taken to her uncle’s house to live with the family.

Zainab’s uncle was, however, a devoted Christian and she was enrolled in a Christian school while she was also forced to attend church services. Despite all these, Zainab kept her faith and when she had an opportunity to speak in the presence of the Commissioner for Education, she mentioned all she had been passing through.

The commissioner, after lecturing Zainab’s uncle that religion should be from the heart, presented Zainab with a scholarship for tertiary education on behalf of the state government.

Students of Oke Bola Comprehensive High School performed The Quiet Storm, where they showcased the need for unity among the different ethnic groups in the country.

Government College Ibadan’s Life Without Money also showcased a man’s decision to go for money ritual after facing financial challenges, while St Teresa’s College’s Wrong Decision focused on human trafficking and how a young girl decided to follow a trafficker to Lagos for prostitution work, while her younger sister opted against the ‘opportunity.’

Officials of the DJ Bullock Endowment Fund presenting students of Oke Bola Comprehensive College with their award.

Speaking after the performances, Dr Awosanmi commended the students for showcasing the different challenges facing the country like internet fraud, human trafficking, ritual killings, religious crises, communal crises, armed robbery, among others.

For the individual awards, Oluwasina Tobiloba of Queens School won the best actor award, while Amao Samson of the Government College, won the best designer and stage manager awards.

Helen Friday of Oke Bola Comprehensive College won the best costumier award and Mathew Christianah Ojotule, also of Oke Bola Comprehensive College, won the best director award.

In the overall award, Oke Bola Comprehensive College came first, while St Teresa’s College came second and Queen’s School third.

The performances were spiced with dancing, drumming, humour, which showed that the students have a better understanding of theatre practice and can become professional actors/actresses in the nearest future.

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