Edinburgh Showcase 2019: ‘The Fishermen’ by New Perspectives Theatre Company

The show we’re bringing to the British Council Showcase this year is called ‘The Fishermen’. It’s an adaptation of Chigozie Obioma’s novel done by Gbolahan Obisesan. It’s the story of two brothers in Nigeria who meet to relive and reenact
a huge family tragedy that’s happened to them,
at the site of the tragedy. So, they effectively go through this enormous family story, just the two of them, in order to come to terms with it
and to process what they’ve been through. I was going to become a professor. That’s not what you wanted to do. You were supposed to be the family doctor but you’re a lawyer and
you cannot be a pilot. We all wanted to be the family pilot. Yes. Well, the original story is
a kind of wide family saga and what we’ve done with our adaptation is we’ve funnelled that down to an encounter between two people, between two brothers. So, the two brothers in the story embody the wider family, relatives and neighbours that there are in the book. So, we’ve done a really radical, kind of, paring down of the story so that everything is communicated through these two people. Why did you become a fisherman? That’s easy. So, what’s the answer? Because we stopped playing football. But why did we stop playing football? We weren’t very good. You played regularly? Only when father wasn’t around. But why? Because academics are not
very good as sportsmen! I think one of the big themes
that is in the play that motivated me to want
to put it on stage was really the complexity
of sibling relationships. Sibling relationships
are also quite performative. When you meet your sibling, you’re also meeting your parents, so you find yourself impersonating
a parent or a friend or somebody from your past. So, that gave us a really clear,
kind of, way of of theatricalising this story. These two brothers meet and they have so much shared history that they find themselves falling into impersonations and reenactments. Our fishing line must be handled with pride and protection. Ikenna was always so serious. Boja! Oh! Oh! And these are your hooks. We will set the baits for our fishes. Fish. Fishes. Fish. So, it’s a really, kind of, sparse production and it’s something where the elements are really concise and really specific. [Shouting] Our brother was facing the radiation. Eyes wide-open. Fixed into one place. The wooden end of Mummy’s kitchen knife was sticking out of his neck, the floor was drenched in his blood, river of red. It came true. Stop it! I don’t want to do this anymore. The reaction from audiences to the play has been really overwhelming. Since we opened it in Manchester,
last Summer, it’s been something that’s
really affected people and I think one of the key things
that affects people is the power of the two performances
at the centre. The two guys who tell this story are kind of mesmerising to watch and that’s also why they won an award. They won a stage award when
they were in Edinburgh. We trail behind our lines. We trail behind our lines. Hook, lines and sinkers. Hook, lines and sinkers. We are fishermen! We are fishermen! We are fishermen! We are fishermen! Ben, we are about to avenge our brothers! Creating ‘The Fishermen’ with the two actors was an amazing process because they were a lot more than just performers
reading a script. They were theatre makers, they were co-creators. You know, the amount of invention
they brought in, the amount of physicality and imagination that they brought to it was, was amazing. Because of my age, the judge deemed me worthy
of life imprisonment or capital punishment and not worthy of juvenile prison because I had committed a murder. “I hereby sentence you,
Benjamin Azikiwe Agwu to eight years confinement,
without family or contact, until you shall reach the
societal maturity age of 18.” As a company who program touring work, the big thought in my head is always; “what are the stories and the cultures that I want to share around the country?” You know, “who are the artists?” and “what is not being seen
or being heard effectively?” So, a lot of my, kind of, cultural diet is from all over the world.

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