n African Performance Review - Playing to reconcile : Osofisan's theatre and the Nigerian polity

Volume 3, Issue 2_3
  • ISSN : 1753-5964


While assessing the social function of literature in the society, Rene Wellek and Austin Warren observe that there is "a considerable difference between theory and practice, between profession of faith and creative ability" (1956: 98). A number of creative writers of African descent have attempted to promote the relevance of African art to its society through an exploration of functional and communal qualities of literature. With cognizance of the fact that African literature is written predominantly in European languages, African writers are faced with the challenge of retaining their African identities even in a foreign tongue. This dilemma, of reconciling a foreign language with an African identity, is one of the biggest challenges to African writing. As the leading playwright of the third generation of Nigerian dramatists, Osofisan has indeed addressed this challenge in unique ways. In addition to this, he has had to reconcile several other conflicting national issues. In this respect, Osofisan's theatre becomes a bridge between theory and practice; between the profession of faith and creative ability. This paper examines Osofisan's theatre as a mediator between the artist and his craft; the Nigerian polity and the citizens; the indigenous culture and contemporary development. It submits that Osofisan's playmaking principles promote reconciliation at these and other levels in the Nigerian polity.

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