Wole Ogontokun and Wole Soyinka. Image via The Guardian Nigeria

Playwright and director Wole Oguntokun has been nominated for the inaugural Young-Howze Theatre Awards.

The awards were set up by the playwright and screenwriters Ricky and Dana Young-Howze to celebrate digital theatre, a form which has gained prominence during the pandemic. Here’s what they have to say about the awards:

[A]s we started reviewing digital theatre there were several qualities and acts of theatrical heroism involved that we wanted to create awards for them. We didn’t want any of these amazing works to be snubbed or forgotten. Also, we wanted to start creating the standards of what we thought digital theatre was BEFORE in-person theatre first came back and the more wealthy, privileged theatre companies started to write standards that only benefited them. This is why we’re announcing our first annual awards show. The Young-Howze Theatre Awards!

The Young-Howzes have reviewed over 130 shows from the past year. There are several categories of awards:  “Solo Performance,” “Seasons, Series, and Festivals,” “Single Shows,” “Individuals,” “Zoom,” “Stream Yard,” “Staged Production,” “Writing/Adaptations,” and “Superlatives.”

What’s super fun about these awards are the uniqueness of the awards, which is captured in the titles of the awards themselves. For the category of “Single Shows,” for instance, there’s an award titled “‘Weird and Worth It’ for Experimental Production of the Year,” and “‘So Nice We Saw It Twice’ for Touring Show of the Year.”

Oguntokun’s play, The Emancipation of Yankee Oluwale, is nominated for the award of “‘Mind-Blowing Drama’ for Dramatic Writing of the Year” within the category of Writing/Adaptations. The play “follows the true and powerful story of David Oluwale, a Nigerian man stowed away on a ship bound to the UK from Lagos that is faced with police brutality throughout his journey.” It was directed by Harry Waters Jr., who played Marvin Berry in Back to the Future. 

Oguntokun is the recipient of several awards, including a fellowship from the International Society for the Performing Arts. His plays, such as The Chibok Girls: Our Story andThe Waiting Room, have been performed at festivals across the world. He has also directed plays written by Wole Soyinka, Ntozake Shange, Aimé Césaire, and others.

The Young-Howze Theatre Awards will be aired here on February 21. For more information about the awards and other nominees, head here.