A staging of Wole Soyinka's 'Jero's Metamorphosis'
Goldsmith's College London in collaboration with Cardboard Citizens
ARC Cafe, Ground Floor, Alison Richard Building, Sidgwick Site, 7 West Rd, CB3 9DT.
For those seeking to advocate and champion respect for human rights and good governance, a variety of means and instruments are available. Alongside political engagement, inter-governmental and non-governmental work, art and drama also feature as important intellectual resources upon which activists and practitioners may draw.
Using a performance of Wole Soyinka's 'Jero's Metamorphosis' as an entry point, the objective of this session is to address some of the themes referred to above. In the context of CGHR 's Practitioner Series, the discussion following the performance of the play will centre on Wole Soyinka as a socio-political activist, and the larger prospects of using drama and art as part of an enlarged repertoire of platforms for championing the advocacy of human rights and governance.
The showcase of the Soyinka play is a result of a parallel project at Goldsmith's College, London: 'Dialogical Mediation: Intellectual intervention within theatrical and aesthetic conceptualisation'. This project sees directors and actors engage in conversation with a non-thespian discussant with regards to the political and social conditions of Soyinka's craft, and the larger ethos that encompasses Soyinka's oeuvre.
Discussant: Tim Cribb
Chair: Dr Ruth Watson
About the play:
The Jero Plays by Wole Soyinka consist of two short plays re-released as a collection in 1973. The Trials of Brother Jero first came out in 1964, while Jero's Metamorphosis was published two years later in 1966. Both plays satirize Christianity and religious hypocrisy, particularly, the unquestioning devotion that many converts display towards their spiritual leaders, often exposing themselves to manipulation in the process.
As the title suggests, The Trials of Brother Jero is about a charlatan preacher, Brother Jero. Brother Jero is a cunning beach diviner who woos customers (penitents) to his church by using Christian superstition for his own salvation. For him, the church is a business. He says:
'I am glad I got here before any customers-I mean worshipers.. l always get a feeling every morning that am a shopkeeper waiting for customers.'
The second play, Jero's Metamorphosis, is also set in Nigeria. Here, Brother Jero is cast as one of the many beach prophets operating in the region. The play opens with Brother Jero instructing Rebecca his secretary to write invitation letters to other prophets. He has managed to access a confidential file that reveals plans to transform the beach, now used as a place for worship, into a public prosecution ground.
With the meeting, the cunning Jero plans on using the file and its contents to unite all the prophets so they form one church with him as the leader. On the day of the meeting, Jero delays making an appearance. Meanwhile, he opportunistically instructs Rebecca to give the prophets a lot of alcohol.
When Jero eventually arrives, the preachers are asked to choose who will be the head of the church. Influenced by the alchohol they've been having, they cast their votes in favor of Brother Jero over his rival Shadrack. The latter had been seen as the probable head. Unlike his colleagues, many of whom are ex-convicts, Shadrack is a real preacher.