The 2017 edition of Lagos Theatre Festival is partnering with the International Association of Theatre Critics (IATC) to host a seminar for young critics working on the continent. The seminar will hold March 1-5 at the National Theatre during the Theatre Festival, organized by the British Council.
Professor Emmanuel Dandaura, the only African member of the Executive Committee of the IATC, in a press statement, revealed that the Nigerian section of the IATC, otherwise called IATC-Nigeria, is “partnering the British Council Nigeria to deepen international participation in the 2017 edition of the Lagos Theatre Festival. Already, IATC-Nigeria has invited some established critics and festival curators across four continents including the IATC global President, Margareta Sorenson, a veteran Swedish Journalist and Critic to participate.
“Also, in order to reinvigorate interest in theatre criticism in the younger ones and particularly for those who wish to take to Journalism as a career, IATC and British Council have agreed to mount a young critics seminar in line with the IATC global format where 20 Nigerian young critics and a few of their foreign counterparts will be mentored through workshop sessions.”
The objectives of the strategic partnership between IATC and British Council, include:
* opening avenues for more international tours for the average Nigerian Theatre makers;
*increase media visibility for works of Nigerian creative artistes;
*facilitate cross fertilization of ideas and galvanize discourse around home grown theatre performances and other emerging forms of expressions in Nigerian Theatre. *create a meeting point for sharing of experiences between theatre critics in the media and those in the academia.
Besides Margareta Sorenson, other Critics and festival curators expected include; Ivan Medenica, the Artistic Director of Belgrade International Theatre Festival; Professor Jeffery Erik Jenkins, Editor Best Plays Theater Yearbook, USA; Maria Shevtsova, Co-editor of New Theatre Quarterly Cambridge University; 2016 IATC Thalia Laureate, Professor Femi Osofisan of Nigeria, Professor Olu Obafemi, President National Academy of Letters, Halima Tahan, Journalist and Director Artes De Sul, Argentina; and Deepa Punjani, Editor, Mumbai Theatre Guide, India
The International Association of Theatre Critics, which is UNESCO’s statute B global partner in theatre criticism, has been in existence for six decades now. However, the proposed Lagos International Critics Conference will be the first, ever IATC activity in Africa. According to, the Conference will deliberate on the theme: “Theatre, Criticism and Politics – Where Are the Limits?”
Nigeria Hosts Global Confab on Theatre, Criticism and Politics
The Executive Committee of the International Association of Theatre Critics (IATC), UNESCO’s statute B global partner in theatre criticism, holds its first ever-official event on the African continent during the Lagos Theatre festival from March 1-5th 2017. The special International Theatre Critics Conference will deliberate on the theme: “Theatre, Criticism and Politics – Where Are the Limits?”. African’s sole representative in the IATC international Executive Committee, Professor Emmanuel Dandaura confirmed this development via a Call For Papers issued by his office as President, IATC-Nigeria.
Justifying the theme of the conference, Professor Dandaura contends that we are now witnessing one of the biggest crises to confront the political paradigm of a globalized world anchored by free markets and representative democracy. This global crisis has local manifestations all around the world: right-wing movements, Brexit, the EU crisis, neoliberal slavery, the migration crisis, consequences of the so-called “Arab spring,” successive failures of incumbent presidents to maintain power in Africa, social injustice, and global terrorism.
Politics, theatre, and theatre criticism have long been interwoven and interdependent. In the highest peaks of its history, theatre and other performing arts have been a collective self-representation of society, its basic values, and beliefs, including mainstream political narratives. When contesting these narratives, theatre has been more ironic, subversive and blasphemous than openly confrontational—although direct theatrical conflicts with society are also well known. When theatre criticism appeared as a genre in Western media, in the 18th century, it fought the same battle as the (bourgeois) theatre itself. Theatre and criticism were important social platforms in the battle against conservative, aristocratic, and clerical states—even as they advocated a new and progressive bourgeois society.
In the last two and a half centuries, the relationship between these three “players”—politics, theatre, and theatre criticism—has been fluid. There were periods in which all were going in the same direction—for good or ill. In some historical periods, (dissident) theatre was courageous, provocative, and challenging. Criticism, however, strongly controlled by mainstream political power (as with much of the media), could not support it. In some constructs, media demanded that theatre be more politically daring.
The international Theatre Critics Conference, therefore, will interrogate how global theatre and theatre criticism respond to current political events? Does theatre, internationally, address these challenging topics? Is there a new political theatre? Is there a growing trend toward the political or do individual cases arise on their own? How do critics react? Are we free (enough) to openly support theatre that dissents from accepted political and cultural norms? Is the social impact of this type of work more relevant than its artistry? How do we recognize a politically brave theatre in societies different from our own? If we recognize it, how do we communicate it to our readers?
A total of 76 national and international theatre critics are expected to participate as delegates in the event. These include Margareta Sorenson, the global President of IATC and Swedish renowned Journalist and Critic; Ivan Medenica, the Artistic Director of Belgrade International Theatre Festival; Professor Jeffery Erik Jenkins, Editor Best Plays Theater Yearbook, USA; Maria Shevtsova, Co-editor of New Theatre Quarterly Cambridge University; 2016 IATC Thalia Laureate, Professor Femi Osofisan of Nigeria, Professor Olu Obafemi, President National Academy of Letters, Halima Tahan, Journalist and Director Artes De Sul, Argentina; and Deepa Punjani, Editor, Mumbai Theatre Guide, India.