Ekun Omi at BOWEN: Ayo Jaiyesimi, Ojo Bakare deploy theatre to wipe tears of the environment

Founder of Thespian Family Theatre, Mrs Ayo Jaiyesinmi
A 12-varsity drama project by Thespian Family Theatre & Productions, which aims at  inspiring a healthy environment, begins with the staging of a play titled EKUN OMI (When Water Cries) at BOWEN University, Iwo, AKEEM LASISI writes
When icons such as Mrs Ayo Jaiyesimi, who is the Chief Executive Officer of Thespian Family Theatre, and veteran dramatist, Professor Rasak Ojo Bakare, come together on a production, there is cause to expect a big deal. The good news for the industry is that such a collaboration is currently on. It is the staging of ‘Ekun Omi (When Water Cries), a play written by Ojo Bakare. It will be performed by BOWEN students on May 23 and 24, as part of a 12-university initiative by Thespian, which is deploying drama to promote the cause of the environment.
Because Thespian is in collaboration with the larger BOWEN University, the Head of the Department of Theatre in the institution, Dr Labisi Adigun, and other stakeholders are also involved.  According to Jaiyesimi, the performance will be preceded by a workshop that will take 2023/24 BOWEN students through issues in environmental protection and the relevance of theatre as an agent of socio-cultural change.
On the importance of the project, she notes in a statement that, for over 20 years, Thespian Family Theatre & Productions has kept its passion aglow for community-focused initiatives that trigger social and behavioral change through visual storytelling. Its tools of engagement include using the performing and visual arts for learning, team building, therapy, advocacy, transformation and change.
Jaiyesimi enthuses: “Our spotlight this season is on the environment, and rightly so… It’s the current buzz!
“Our community conversations this season are therefore focused on the environment; from rural -urban environmental issues, climate change and global warming, solid waste, water pollution, ocean acidification, clean air to loss of biodiversity.”
She adds that Thespian is taking a look at the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) designed as a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all ‘by the year 2030’ and zeroing  in on the following as the basis for our conversations:
SDG (1) No Poverty
SDG (2) Zero Hunger
SDG (3) Good Health & Well-being
SDG (6) Clean Water & Sanitation
SDG (11) Sustainable Cities & Communities
SDG (13) Climate Action
SDG (14) Life Below Water
SDG (15) Life On Land.

She explains, “The environment plays an important role in our lives and we have an obligation to care for it and try to maintain an ecological balance in our planet’s natural environment and conserve natural resources to support the wellbeing of current and future generations.  In order to achieve this, it is important to understand the environment, be aware of our social responsibility and join in supporting and upholding the Governance Practices put in place. In essence, we will be preserving our tomorrow today!
“Despite measures, propaganda and never – ending news flashes on the issue of the environment, there is still a lot of apathy displayed by a vast majority of the populace, and this needs to be tackled. So, we have taken this PERSONALLY. We are doing our bit to etch this all- important-issue on the minds of the community and community groups through workshops, readings, stage plays, competitions and roadshows.”
Jaiyesimi, who had in the past, through the arts, successfully championed similar causes in family bonding, cultural regeneration and youth empowerment, believes this will positively reinforce Government efforts and Global interventions.  Thespian Family Theatre had performed, among others, ‘The Five Maids of Fadaka’, ‘The Wizard of Law’, ‘Mad King of Ijudiya’,  Wole Soyinka’s ‘The Trials of Brother Jero’ and ‘The Lion and the Jewel’, as well as Femi Osofisan’s ‘Midnight Hotel’.
The founder adds, “The Creative Sector plays a huge role in social change as it is able to ‘paint vivid pictures’ of current situations, why there is a need for change, what change looks like and what is in it for all parties involved. The Performing Arts, in particular, uses live performances to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience in a specific place. We are therefore using a unique methodology for advocacy, and we are working with 12 Universities in 2024/25 which we believe are apt to drive home awareness and social change.”
The 12 universities involved will do workshops to understand the environmental problems, create scripts or adapt scripts as their storyboards to showcase to their communities. At the end of the season, they will also showcase the discovered talents within the universities.
The theatre icon stresses that the project kicks off with BOWEN University Theatre Arts Programme which, together with THESPIAN Family Theatre & Productions, is premiering ‘Ekun Omi’.
Prof. Rasak Ojo Bakare
Jaiyesimi says, “This brilliant piece of work, done in workshop with the 2023/24 Theatre Arts students of the university, will show on Thursday, May 23 2024, at the Chris Alabi Lecture Theatre, BOWEN University, Iwo. It will also be presented to the students of BOWEN Primary School and Bowen International Secondary School in the school hall of the latter school on Friday, the 24th May, 2024. Also, we will showcase ‘Ekun Omi’ to His Royal Highness, the Olupo of Olupona, the chiefs and invited members of Olupona community on Tuesday, the 28th May 2024.
“We are ever so proud to work with Dr. Labisi Adigun, Head of Theatre Arts Programme and Co- Project Coordinator, and Professor Rasak Ojo Bakare, the Workshop Facilitator, author and Director for the BOWEN Project.  He is currently a Visiting Professor at the Theatre Arts Progamme of BOWEN.”
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