The Dramatic Significance of Sick Characters in Ola Rotimi's Plays

Topics: The Dramatics, Drama, Nigeria Pages: 15 (4643 words) Published: February 20, 2009

Odia Clement Eloghosa

In this paper, the sick characters are studied through the examination of their dramatic significance and contributions to the development of Ola Rotimi’s drama. Three aspects of dramatic significance are identified in this paper and we argue that the sick:

(1) act as witness and help the healthy establish truth, (2) create crisis situations that stir up diverse emotions in the audience, and finally, (3) heighten dramatic tension which boosts the degree of suspense in the plays.

The paper examines the dramatic significance of sick characters in Ola Rotimi’s plays. It covers four of Rotimi’s plays because they are directly relevant to the thesis of this study. The four plays are The Gods Are not to Blame (1971), Our Husband Has Gone Mad Again (1977), If… A Tragedy of the Ruled (1983) and Hopes of the Living Dead (1985).

The purpose of this study is to examine the use of sick characters in Ola Rotimi’s drama by describing their dramatic significance as well as by assessing their contributions to Rotimi’s dramaturgy.

The methodology used in this study is mainly library research. The four primary texts have been read closely and analyzed within the context of each aspect of the thesis. Relevant secondary materials are used in supporting the arguments on which the thesis and individual sections are based.

Some critics have examined the various aspects of Rotimi’s dramaturgy, paying attention to either the content or the form. None of the critics has been able to carry out a sustained study of the dramatic significance of sick characters in Ola Rotimi’s plays. This work proposes to fill that gap.

Earlier articles by E. J. Asgill, Teresa .U. Njoku, Michael Etherton and V. U. Ola are concerned with the playwright’s indebtedness to Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex in The Gods Are not to Blame.

Asgill, for example, critically examines Rotimi’s work as an excellent example of African adaptation of Greek tragedies. Njoku, on her part, looks at the influence of Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex on Rotimi’s The Gods. Etherton considers the concepts of transposition and adaptation in African drama using The Gods as a case study while Ola, on her part, explores the concept of tragedy in The Gods.

Other critics, like Nasiru Akanji , Alex Johnson, E. B. Uwatt, F. O. Begho, Egwugwu Illah, Saint Gbilekaa and Femi Shaka, to mention a few have paid serious attention to the content and form of Ola Rotimi’s plays.

Akanji looks at the form of Rotimi’s plays and stresses Rotimi’s intention to lead the crusade to remedy the lack of communication between drama in English and the Nigerian audience by experimenting with techniques which will enable him reach out to Nigerians of different levels of proficiency in the language.

Johnson studies the significance of Ola Rotimi in the development of drama and theatre in Africa. He further argues that Rotimi’s significance is in the area of language and African theatre. He adds that in using these two forms, Rotimi makes his contribution to African Literature.

Uwatt examines the use of Theatre–In–The–Round performance in Ola Rotimi’s drama to evolve a new Nigerian Theatre. He concludes that “Rotimi has adapted to the modern stage the traditional spatial concept of theatre, not only as a physical acting space on stage, but also as arena for metaphysical relationship with the cosmos” (191).

Begho focuses on Rotimi’s use of contemporary dance as an essential theatrical element which imposes form on the plays.

Illah treats the plays of Rotimi as drama of culturalist assertion, focusing on the deployment of cultural elements, their formation and dramatic realization. He also examines the ideological and theatrical impacts of the cultural elements on the plays.

Gbilekaa studies Rotimi’s romance with the left and reveals the playwright’s new...
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