Thursday, February 12, 2009

JAGUN FLY: The Playwright

Playwright John ADEkoje is a graduate of the HSU Department of Theatre, Film and Dance. He originally came to HSU to study filmmaking, but dramatic writing program director Margaret Thomas Kelso convinced him to try writing plays. “So it’s her fault,” he said.

It seems to be paying off. Now living in Boston, his play Shoeshine Safari is scheduled for production by the Providence Black Repertory Theatre, and his rock musical will be produced next year at the Boston Playwrights Theatre. He is currently an artist in residence at the University of Massachusetts in Boston (where another play is in process) and he teaches playwriting and film at the Boston Arts Academy.

Jagun Fly began as three short plays, one of which ADEkoje wrote while at HSU. “It was called 'Love Jones,' about a kid talking to a gun about death.” In two other plays after that, “I kept playing with this idea of a mother, a father and a son who are estranged from each other, where communication is a problem.”

That related to the African Diaspora, with people separated all over the world and not able to communicate with each other. “I used the estranged family to talk about that issue.”

But it was after watching a play in New York that he realized how to bring all three plays together. “That play used the Yoruba tradition. I use it in a different way, but I noticed this was something I was doing in all my plays. It dawned on me that there was a connection between them. So I just sat down and tried to combine the three plays into one, with the ritual behind it.”

Having been reminded by director John Heckel that the competition was coming up for the HSU New Plays Season held every three years, he entered this play—“And I kind of won.”

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