On 6 June, 2018 Center for Teaching & Learning (CTL) Academy in Abuja staged an adaptation of Things Fall Apart. Literature teacher and writer Jennifer Emelife wrote and directed the play. The cast members comprised primarily of students ranging from the ages of 6 and 17. Here are photos from the event and Ms. Emelife’s account of the wonderful and enriching experience.
I teach literature at the Center for Teaching & Learning (CTL) Academy Abuja, an international school catering to students from pre-school to high school age. In February, the principal asked me to plan a school play. I immediately thought of Things Fall Apart, in part, because I had pulled off same (albeit on a smaller scale) in my former school and because I wanted it to be a learning opportunity for these students who could tell you so much about American history, but little about Nigerian history.
I drafted a script and, with the help of another teacher, came up with a comprehensive play script for Things Fall Apart. What we didn’t envisage was how tedious the work would turn out to be. The cast members comprised of students ranging between the ages of 6 to 17. Being Nigerians born in other parts of the world, Nigerians of mixed origins and non-Nigerians, the students constantly asked why a foreign play wasn’t an option. However, in the course of working on the play, the students became more open to exploring questions about colonialism, gender roles in the traditional African society and the Igbo culture. Eventually, they mastered their role, and by the time the day of the event came along, our students had completely transformed into Okonkwo, Amalinze the Cat, Ikemefuna, Nwoye, Ezinma, Obierika, Chielo, Unoka and Uchendu.
The parents of participating students furnished us with costumes while the principal made props available. Their contributions went a long way to bringing Things Fall Apart to life.
On the 6th of June, 2018, the students pulled off an amazing performance amidst great applause from the audience and their parents. At the end of it all, I stood there before the students, feeling incredibly proud. They will no doubt always remember that night.
I’m glad to have introduced the timeless work of Chinua Achebe to them. It’s the 60th anniversary of Things Fall Apart this year, and I can imagine Achebe smiling at me from his grave.
Watch the play and see photos below.