Spirit of Modern London; Feast, Rufus Norris's Dance, Theatre and Film Fusion, Spotlights the Yoruba Faith, Taking a Spectacular Journey from Nigeria across the Atlantic and Back to the Young Vic, Says Liz Hoggard

The Evening Standard (London, England), December 18, 2012 | Go to article overview

Spirit of Modern London; Feast, Rufus Norris's Dance, Theatre and Film Fusion, Spotlights the Yoruba Faith, Taking a Spectacular Journey from Nigeria across the Atlantic and Back to the Young Vic, Says Liz Hoggard


Byline: says Liz Hoggard

IT'S very hard to represent slavery in away that isn't cliched," director Rufus Norris tells me. "You have images, moments you Y like, but as soon as you put them up, you think, 'Oh God, that really is terribly naff '. But this isn't a play about slavery, it's about survival, in the broadest sense, and celebration."

" We're in a chilly studio in west London watching a group of actors, dancers and musicians rehearse the YY ung Vic's new epic, Feast, about the voyage of the Yoruba diaspora from Y southern Nigeria across the Atlantic and back again. Feast travels from 18th-century Nigeria, via Cuba and Brazil, to contemporary London. It has been created by playwrights from five countries where the f Yoruba Y legacy has had great impact on life today: Yunior Garcia Aguilera (Cuba), Y Rotimi Babatunde (Nigeria), Marcos Barbosa (Brazil), Tanya Barfield (US) and Gbolahan Obisesan (UK).

In the opening section of the play, written by Babatunde, we meet three sisters (played by Noma Dumezweni, Michelle Asante and Naana Agyei-Ampadu) incarnating three Yoruba Y divinities, or Orisha. They are on their way to a feast when they are separated at a crossroads by Esu, the trickster god (played by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith). It takes them four centuries -- and incredible adventures -- to be reunited in modern-day London.

Part road-movie, part dancetheatre piece, Norris's goal with Feast is to create seamless "transitions" between the five stories, using live music, projection and choreography. The cast need to become a chain gang, a congregation, even civil rights activists at a moment's notice. This approach is in keeping with the YoY ruba belief in reincarnation, that when you die, you enter the realm of the ancestors and still have influence on earth.

"The circle of life is present in everything," says Norris, who is keen to have this "cosmology" close to the surface of the play. "Increasingly the work I'm drawn to is about rootlessness. Your home is your Y culture but your belief system is something you carry with you. And that, in a way, is what the piece is about." The multi-award-winning theatre director of Festen, Vernon God Little, London Road and Dr Dee partly grew up in Nigeria when his civil servant father was posted to Africa. In 2009 he directed Death and the King's Horseman at the National about the end of British colonialism in Nigeria, and has long been fascinated by the vast numbers of descendants of YoY ruba slaves stolen away from Nigeria and now scattered around the globe.

In fact the enforced dispersal of Nigerian captives played a critical role in broadcasting the Yoruba faith Y (known as Ifa) across the Atlantic. Slaves would disguise their Orishas as Catholic saints in order to preserve their ancestral beliefs. Today many people in Latin American countries such as Cuba and Brazil pay homage to the same deities as the Yorubas. Y Many of the cast and crew of Feast have Yoruba ancestry -- y -- including Cuban choreographer George Cespedes (who has worked with Carlos Acosta), British contemporary dancer Ira Mandela Siobhan (who performed in DV8's Can We Talk About This?), Cuban-born dancer Alexander Varona (formerly a member of the Russell Maliphant company) and Jamiroquai percussionist Sola Akingbola, who is giving traditional Yoruba drumming Y an experimental sonic twist.

A Young Vic and Royal Court coproduction, Feast is part of World Stages London, an unprecedented project where eight London producing venues collaborated on work to mark the Olympic year. But the play's genesis came about in 2007, when Elyse Dodgson, head of the Royal Court international department, was running a playwriting workshop in Nigeria. At the leaving party on the beach, she mentioned their next workshop would be in Cuba, and the Nigerians became very excited because Cubans practise Santeria, the Yoruban belief system that survived the Atlantic slave trade.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Spirit of Modern London; Feast, Rufus Norris's Dance, Theatre and Film Fusion, Spotlights the Yoruba Faith, Taking a Spectacular Journey from Nigeria across the Atlantic and Back to the Young Vic, Says Liz Hoggard
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.