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

4629 Words Feb 6th, 2009 19 Pages

Odia Clement Eloghosa

ABSTRACT 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
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He identifies collectivist consciousness as the defining factor which crystallizes Rotimi’s advancement of themes like solidarity, followership and self-sufficiency.

Femi Osofisan, Toyin Akinosho, Umukoro et al and Effiok Uwatt have made cursory remarks on Rotimi’s use of sick characters and these are worth reviewing here. Osofisan, examining the political imperative in African dramaturgy and theatre practice, makes some passing comments on the sick in Hopes, a play he considers as belonging to “the tradition of socialist theatre” and posits that the aim of the sick in that play is to teach “our masses the virtue of collective struggle, the irrelevance of tribal differences in face of common economic exploitation and the possibility of heroism among the poor and down trodden” (5).

On his part, Akinosho, reviewing the performance of Rasheed Gbadamosi’s Behold My Redeemer, a play directed by Ola Rotimi, and which has a psychiatric setting, makes brief comments on Rotimi’s portrayal of sick characters. He says, “As director and playwright, Ola Rotimi is known for using the sick to portray the Nigerian Society” (11). He adds that in Our Husband, the playwright uses the sick to paint “the Nigerian politician as a mad power seeker”.

Umukoro et al, examining the major events in The Gods, briefly interpret the use of sickness in the play thus, “The only real significance
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