By Dr Folakemi Ogungbe
“ART FOR LIFE” PROJECT KICKS OFF IN LAGOS WITH JOSHUA ALABI OF KININSO KONCEPTS AND SEGUN ADEFILA OF CROWN TROUPE AFRICA
Joshua Alabi, of Kininso Koncepts is the lead collaborator on this project. He is collaborating with Segun Adefila of Crown Troupe of Africa. “Art for life” is seeking ways of making the Performing Arts, a sustainable practice in Nigeria. Beyond strong artistic considerations for a production, there is also a need for good branding, marketing and strategic positioning. It is not enough to have a production, it must attain its full revenue potentials and it must enrich the practitioners as well.
Joshua Alabi is the Creative/Artistic director at Kininso Koncepts, located at 73 Alhaji Abass Street, Ogudu, Lagos. This year, Joshua’s group worked on “Cream Body” which tackles colourism, gender, body and identity. In 2021, Kininso Koncepts produced “Sniper” which is a play about family, mental health, depression and suicide. The themes that Kininso Koncepts treat are wide and varied. Their theatre provides entertainment while addressing salient societal issues. It is interesting to note that Joshua Alabi once worked with Segun Adefila at Crown Troupe of Africa. Beyond working on creative pieces, Kininso theatre group is also interested in branding and marketing their pieces to a target audience in order to maximise profit.
Segun Adefila is the Artistic director of Crown Troupe of Africa which is located at the Arts Factory, 26 Ayoola Street, Bariga Lagos. Crown Troupe of Africa was established by Segun Adefila in 1996. Crown Troupe of Africa has been involved in hundreds of local, national and international performances. Segun Adefila, apart from being the artistic director, is also a dancer, choreographer, actor and playwright.
Segun Adefila and Joshua Alabi both attended the University of Lagos. While Segun Adefila graduated in 2003, Joshua Alabi graduated in 2014. Joshua Alabi once worked at Crown Troupe of Africa before establishing Kininso Koncepts. Both groups have collaborated on several projects. An example is “Chronicles of Nigerians” which is based on a compendium of rants by Joy Isi Bewaji, which was performed in 2015. They have also worked together creating for the Eko Theatre Carnival in 2016, 2017, and 2018. The Eko Carnival is the brainchild of Crown Troupe of Africa. Both groups have also performed “Jungle Justice” at Freedom Park, Lagos.
Joshua and Segun’s companies have shared a space at Ethnic Heritage Centre, Ikoyi, where they produced a number of in-house productions. They are therefore excited to collaborate on the African Hub for Sustainable Creative Economy Lagos project. Joshua and Segun both believe that their skill sets are complimentary. While Joshua says Segun’s theatre is much grounded in making theatre relevant to the immediate community and the world at large. Segun says he has learnt from Joshua that maximising profit and packaging shows with a business purpose is germane. Like he puts it “owo ni keke ihinrere” which literally means “money is the vehicle for propagation.”
Elucidating further, Joshua states that it does not matter what you kind of theatre you do, whether mainstream, children or theatre-for-development, you must make it sell in order to stay relevant. Joshua indicates that advert companies and many other media companies are involved in telling stories and the strategies they involve in their storytelling must be made to work for the theatre, which is a major storytelling platform. The theatre practitioner must think of the unique selling point of his product. Appeal, craft and knowledge are equally important considerations. The theatre practitioner must avoid underselling, under-pricing and undervaluation.
At the end of the workshops which will happen both at the headquarters at Bariga and Ogudu, there will be the production of a 50 mins dance piece. The audiences for the workshops are largely going to be drawn from the artistes and workers at both organisations.
Segun Adefila is a firm believer in organic growth. He states that Kininso Koncepts grew before his very eyes and he is pleased to say that they did not put the cart before the house: they learnt how to make theatre first before learning how to sell theatre. He states that every company must have a unique signature which is a stamp of quality that is easily identifiable by the audience. Segun also believes that AHSCE helps to bring a sense of direction. They will be pointing their dance towards the subjects of feminism and climate which are some of the hotspot subjects requiring attention from both academic and the creatives. The Creative Imagination Week and the Voucher Scheme projects have helped to midwife “Art for Life”. Still gushing about the Creative Imagination Week, Segun Adefila states that he thoroughly enjoyed the usage of Padlet. Padlet afforded the opportunity for cross-pollination of ideas. He also felt honoured to be invited to be a keynote speaker. AHSCE, Segun says, has helped to open new horizons, he is able to realise potentials that he had but he did not know that he had all along.
Joshua loves the unique collaboration between King’s College London, the University of Southampton and his Alma mater, the University of Lagos. The fostering of such partnership has made way for their own collaborative partnership to happen.