Adapting 'A man of the people' to stage: can stage adaptation successfully return Igbo literary fiction to the Igbo people?

Anyanwụ, Chikwendụ P. K. (2010) Adapting 'A man of the people' to stage: can stage adaptation successfully return Igbo literary fiction to the Igbo people? PhD thesis, Middlesex University.

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Abstract

With the death of the folk storytelling tradition in Igbo society, the hope of passing Igbo stories to future generations seems to lie with the novel and dramatic theatre. Unfortunately, in the past two to three decades, both the reading culture and theatre practice in Igbo land have seriously declined. The political situation, the economy, the non-practical approach to problem solving by the literary and cultural intellectuals, the ceaseless streaming of popular and trash cultures from the West through television into Igbo towns and villages, the rise of home movies with pseudo-voodoo stories, have all contributed to the demise of honest and purposeful storytelling in Igbo society. Confronted by a society on the threshold of losing its identity, I thought of a practical step I could take to address the situation through the dramatic adaptation of one Igbo novel, Chinua Achebe‘s A Man of the People. Adapting the novel to stage offered me two opportunities in one: to contribute not only towards the revival of literary appreciation, but also of theatre practice, which, as anthropologists like Victor Turner, have argued, belongs to popular culture. This task involved rewriting the novel into a drama script, producing it on stage in Igbo land and observing how it impacted on the audience and community. I chose to adapt A Man of the People because of its relevance to my understanding of the socio-political atmosphere in Igbo land and in Nigeria as a whole. In order to understand the context, and complete my adaptation, I examined and analysed the history of the Igbo people, culture and literature, the political atmosphere in Nigeria and the nature of African drama. Adaptations, according to Linda Hutcheon, are not simply repetitions. They rather 'affirm and reinforce basic cultural assumptions' (Hutcheon 2006: 176) while re-creating and re-interpreting an earlier story in the light of new realities. Ours is a society in need of its earlier stories for its continued existence as a people, and as a nation with shared values. My conclusion is that adaptation and dramatisation can have an important role to play in reviving and then, in maintaining the Igbo culture and improving literary appreciation among the people.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information:

A thesis submitted to Middlesex University in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of PhD degree in Creative Writing.

Research Areas:School of Media and Performing Arts > Performing Arts
Theses
ID Code:7937
Deposited On:09 Jun 2011 13:11
Last Modified:18 Jul 2014 12:55

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