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The Use Of Nonverbal Theatrical Techniques In Soyinka’s Plays

2013 words - 8 pages

The drama of Wole Soyinka is the creative mixing of Yoruba rituals, dramatic techniques, music and dance with the foreign language, English. The rites, rituals, gestures, music and dance are some of the nonverbal techniques Soyinka employs in order to achieve his dramatic effect. The language is full of wit and graphic insult. Language is not the only thing Soyinka relies on for effective theatre but also on so many techniques. This is an attempt to discuss these techniques in some important plays of Wole Soyinka.
The Road is Soyinka’s writing on the nation’s wall. He draws a society that is on the road to death and dissolution, a society for which there seems no hope. Perhaps, like Professor, who speaks of death as the moment of our rehabilitation, this society will have to die before it learns the truth. (Roscoe, p. 281). The Road is Soyinka’s most mature work. He displays in this play his usual ability to create living characters, which unlike the rest are more diverse and more deeply explored. In this play songs present life’s progress towards death that reduces everything into nothing. It is a skillfully handled play with fine use of songs. The very first song reveals the quest of man for the essence of death, which alone will explain the meaning of life. It also brings out the truth that loss of belief and conviction has produced a society in a state of transition.
The Road begins and ends on several occasion is punctuated by the rhythmic presence of masque for the dead. The driver’s dirge is sung on the occasion of death, provide a thematic chorus. It comments on the central idea of death and disobedience towards God. All these songs are sung in Yoruba, which underlines their traditional value and customary strength and the theme of modern straining away from the traditional values. The song also speaks about the life of man in earth and shows way to heaven. Another dirge song is about the story of Kokolori’s death. Professor’s attempt to restore his self-confidence by listening to his favorite praise-song is another feature which highlights the play.
A symbolic play in a greater extend, Wole Soyinka’s play “The Strong Breed”, is all about the rituals and superstitious believes prevailing in the African society. Wole Soyinka is perhaps the most misunderstood, exceedingly controversial figure in the Nigerian public and literary life. The theme of the need of the societies to sacrifice one of their own to bring about purgation of the societies is dealt in this play.
Throughout the narrative, an atmosphere of foreboding prevails. At the onset, Sunma, urges Eman, who is a stranger to her village, to leave the place before evening. The reason for her restlessness is revealed to both Eman and the readers very gradually. The village has an annual New Year purification rite in which the wrong doings of the villagers are heaped on ‘carrier’- a stranger- so that the community may be redeemed of its sins and have rejuvenation in all sense. There is...

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