Performing arts are a route to discussing social and political issues in Lagos, and challenging audiences to help with the cultural development of the city. KiNiNso-Koncepts is a dance and theatre company which approaches problems through powerful, multifaceted storytelling and performances that can take place in any space.
KiNiNso-Koncepts is the brainchild of its Director, Joshua Ademola Alabi, who believes that theatre can be used as a tool for youth empowerment and a way of encouraging social development, breaking down barriers between people and changing attitudes. KiNiNso-Koncepts specifically addresses social issues, but by using music, dance, poetry and experimental approaches to theatre, also aims to craft stories that are highly entertaining which will appeal to a very broad audience. Their work particularly targets the young, and constructs narratives that offer alternatives to violence as a solution to problems. The group has forged relationships with the Lagos State Government and international agencies, producing plays specifically for the Justice Department among others.
Plays include the comedy Just Justice, produced as part of the Justice for All project managed by the British Council, and ‘Talk Yes, Arms No’ addressing terrorism, militancy and violence against women and girls. It has also produced Awari (‘the fruitful search’) challenging the stigmatisation of IVF; FOIA, a play educating audiences about the Freedom of Information Act; Mama Na Gold, a dance-theatre piece about the causes of, and solutions to, maternal deaths; and ‘State of Emergency Amnesty’, which looks at the state of security in Nigeria. The group has also been commissioned by NGOs to address climate change, and two performances address the empowerment of women in this context.
Other prominent theatre groups in Lagos also reflect this trend of empowerment, including Crown Troupe of Afrika led by Segun Adefila, which has been at the vanguard of socially relevant theatre since 1996. In the theatre company Footprints of David, performers are largely children from deprived backgrounds, who have now secured scholarships, performing for high profile politicians and are travelling across the world through their involvement in theatre.
This approach to theatre gives opportunities for young Nigerian performers to develop their craft, while affirming and representing African creativity. KiNiNso-Koncepts believes that ‘a nation without a theatre is a voiceless nation’ and the group’s ultimate ambition is to establish a permanent repertory theatre. It also seeks to encourage the government to use performance as a tool for reconstruction. By harnessing drama, dancing, poetry, music, drumming and chanting, these theatre groups will be able to bring optimism and empowerment to its young people.