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Performing youths elevate church with Ije, The Musical

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The Creative Arts arm of The Elevation Church, Maryland expression, made history for the tenth time with the presentation of the stage play, Ije. The event which was held on 1st October 2021 at the Colonades Hotel, Ikoyi was a pre-launch for the Ikoyi expression of The Elevation Church which is billed to launch on October 10, 2021. This edition, which was titled Ije; The Musical, was a creative tripartite as it had a stage play laced with musicals and an art exhibition.

As a story, Ije was written by Ben Chiadika, a scriptwriter, an award-winning filmmaker and technical director on Tinsel. The story encapsulates the epic traditions of his home town of Ogwashi-Uku. It was originally Ijebusomma but was renamed Ije to capture the tribally versatile audience of The Elevation Church community. Ije is literally translated to mean journey. The story captures the journey of the hero, Ijebusomma, on whose young shoulders the destiny of her father’s throne laid.

Scenes from the art exhibition

The stage play has had production modifications in each of the ten versions over time and this has added intriguing twists to each presentation as every edition bears a different objective. The play was popularly titled Ije; The Quest but, the latest edition is titled Ije; The Musical. The musical infusion bears a significant variance as it sets a trail for the hero’s journey from start to climax.

Apart from artistic colouring, the incorporation of music in this edition and for the second time during the ten productions so far; the first being at National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos on July 19, 2019, was to promote synergy in performing arts. This time, it entailed a full-blown musical collaboration which had Oretimehin Kehinde Solomon of the Omokabiyesi brand directing the musicals. Each of his spontaneously crafted songs which are mostly a mix of songs in English and Ogwashi dialect bears expository ingenuity. Stage playing and musical rendition are powerful genres that can stand on their own but, a combination of both guarantees a more powerful and colourful presentation, which was what Ije; The Musical achieved.

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Another spice to this edition was the art exhibition which saw two of Lagos most celebrated artists, Aje Samson Olatunji and Iheanacho Chigozie Iheanacho, showcasing their painted pieces. Chief among the pieces on display were artworks that mirror positivity, joyful living and eco-sensitivity.

Aje’s works bore the subject matters of the human relationship with the environment and social-cultural incubation. His pieces captured themes on Love, hustle, marriage and family and his creative style was a combination of human and animal forms and figures in conflicts. For Chigozie, representing the themes of celebration and testimony by painting in semi abstraction using human figures was an innovative delight. The Arts exhibition was strategic to speaking to the members of the Ikoyi community who have shown deep interests in artistic creativity.

The creative director of the production, Kelechukwu Anunibe, under whose scrupulous supervision various aspects of the presentation took place expressed gratitude for a successful creative jaunt. Every production has its particular bournes and Ije; The Musical successfully checked its boxes. “Productions are measured by set objectives. One of the objectives was to create awareness in the Ikoyi environs. From the feedback we are getting, it has become obvious that the set objectives for this particular production have been achieved”, he said.

Scenes from the stage performance – Ije, The Musical

As a poet, a film-maker, a theatre director and the convener of The Story Conference, Anunibe has graced various audiences and the experience and training inform his disposition on creative presentations.

“People out there have gone beyond the skies so the skies can’t be our limits anymore. It is time to collaborate better as gospel thespians. We do not have to be thinking or working in silos. Let’s bring this energy together considering the rule of the value of the whole being greater than the sum of the part. It’s about time we synergize to take the kingdom. That’s the only way we can influence and stay strong on our mountain of influence which is arts and entertainment”, he enthused. Kelechukwu Anunibe is also the associate pastor that oversees the Arts and Media Hub of The Elevation Church, Maryland.For the entire in-house creative team whose inexorable efforts brought the characters and ideas in Ije to life, it was an outing worth the many exertions, one for which their individual input is deeply appreciated.

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