Makinde Adeniran is a veteran actor, a theatre director, script writer, art critic and culture advocate. He is the Chairman, National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners (NANTAP), Lagos Chapter. In this interview with TONY OKUYEME, Adeniran talks about live theatre, Nollywood, career and other issues
Your hair style has become something of an identity for you, such that some of your colleagues call you Wole Soyinka junior. Is it deliberate?
Did you really set out to appear like the Nobel Laureate? If anything at all, I avoid being popular in the shadow of such great men. WS’s shadow is too big, one may never be able to grow ones unique identity except to be known as “look alike”. Honestly I never planned it. So, anytime I got glued to a barber, that’s it. When that barber leaves the job or travels, I’ll be so afraid for another barber to do my barbing, and it was becoming a phobia. So to stop it, I decided to stop going to the barbers’ shops.
You are an actor, a theatre director, script writer, art critic and culture advocate…
Tell us, which of these came first?
Acting is always the touchbearer that opens you up to the profession. It was acting, though writing had been there. But one never recognized it to be anything other than that, until acting helped one to identify what it was one had been doing.
What were the challenges growing up, especially because of your interest in art?
The challenges would be my rascality, not necessarily because of my parents’ refusal for me to be an artiste. I guess they just wanted me to succeed at that point. I was too rascally to imagine that I would succeed on anything.
What do you think can be done to reposition live theatre in Nigeria today?
Government’s intervention on infrastructure, capacity building and deliberate policy to grow the sector
You have not done much in Nolluwood. Why?
It’s just to ensure that I am not everywhere doing everything without substance. I choose project I get involved with.
There seems to be a dip in radio drama productions today…
I suspect we are not able to build enough capacity to take radio drama productions to next level. This goes to the heart of the matter on infrastructure and lack of enough training.
What do you think is the bane of development of live theatre in particular, and the entertainment industry in general?
As long as enough infrastructure are not available for practitioners to experiment with, there’ll always be the lull. Another thing is that we have more mediocres in the business both in government and private sector who are masquerading to be the originals, misleading both governments and corporate institutions.
There is no gainsaying that the impact of COVID 19 has changed human interaction as well as redefining new business models all over the world. One of the sectors widely affected by COVID 19 pandemic is the Entertainment Industry, especially following the restrictions on large public gatherings which has made live theatre performances virtually impossible. What are your thoughts about this pandemic and how it has redefined theatre performances?
Really, I am one of those who believe the pandemic is just for a season, it will be over soon. But there are some of the realities it has opened us to; an additional biz platform for the live theatre, virtual theatre is one of such. It has forced us to think beyond our noses, and I suspect, it has helped to force a few mediocre in the industry out of business…
How has it affected your career as an artiste and a script writer?
Obviously, productions were not coming as it should, but it provided more time at planning than field work which in the long run, it will make economic sense.
Against the backdrop of Covid-19, what is your advice for theatre practitioners and filmmakers in Nigeria?
Use this opportunity to replan your arts business/career.
Where do you see live theatre in Nigeria in the next 10 years?
Gradually the live theatre is regaining space among the youths. Governments are beginning to see need to invest in infrastructure, i. e. former Governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode; Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi appointed a theatre professor to man the Ministry of Arts and Culture in Ekiti, recently; another Prof. Ododo was appointed to man the National Theatre…, and most of all, National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners (NANTAP) was appointed to be on the board of National Theatre/National Troupe. If we continue in this direction, in ten years to come, theatre will be contributing heavily to our GDP.
For quite some time now, stakeholders have expressed concern on the need for federal government to expedite action on the implementation of the National Cultural Policy. What is your opinion about this?
It is the only way to go. Every true development is the proper understanding and appreciation of their culture. Then alone can tourism make sense beyond the child play approach we have adopted in that regard.
Piracy remains a major obstacle to development in the sector. What do you think can be done to check it?
Regulate the sector. It will slow down piracy drastically. And I believe the government can help the industry with required policy power to form a council that will initiate the regulation.
What are your thoughts about the imperative of cottage theatres to the sector?
Cottage theatre is good. It will help stem youth restiveness at the local government and so many social development activities will easily be engendered.
You are the chairman of the Lagos State Chapter of NANTAP. Tell us, what would you like to be remembered as chairman?
I just want to be remembered as one who sincerely contributed his bit when the honour fell on his lap.
You have featured in so many popular stage plays. Which of them would you say is (1), your favourite, and (2), your most challenging?
I don’t have favourite because I approach all with the same seriousness. For instance, the character of Ifada in Wole Soyinka’s “The Strong Breed” directed by Dr. Kola Oyewo.
(laughs) Maybe, that I am not practicing my theatre in more organised environment…
How would describe yourself?
Let others say what they feel about me.
How do you unwind?
Travelling and going to the cinema.
Have you been embarrassed?
Severally… One them was when II mimicked Hulk Hogan.
It was at the Dramatic Arts Department, Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU). We had a variety show, and one of the performances we did was a comedy piece, where I dressed like Hulk Hogan. I robbed oil all over my body to make it look so real. Bayo Bankole and I did the comedy piece. After, show everybody thst saw it was very impressed and many of them wanted us to repeat it. Me as Hulk Hogan…. At a time I became very embarrassed…