Ude, Chiedozie Orji.
Department of English, UNILAG
Analysis on Matiiku
It is no news that trying to analyse a live performance is a tricky job. This trickiness may be as a result of different factors such as place and time— or more impressive, the complex nature of literature. Notwithstanding this difficulty, this paper will make an attempt to critically analyse the stage play entitled Matiiku. This essay will succinctly summarise the play and its subject matter, making use of factors such as the stage management and the gestures (which some may refer to as body language) of the actors to defend the choice of subject matter. The attention that will be paid to the factors stated above stems from the technical nature of the dialogue — that is, it was, to a very large extent, exclusively performed in the Yoruba language. However, the focus on the gestures and stage management does not in any way downplay the usefulness of the dialogue in this analysis because its importance in making the play fit its setting, and also, its subject matter cannot be overlooked. Also, it is important to note that this essay will include foreign references — that is, events or even books outside the narrative — which will be used support the arguments expressed in this paper. All these will be combined to comprehensively analyse this play.
This segment of the essay will comment on the playwright and the setting of the play. Not much is known about the playwright; hence, we move on to the setting of the play. The play is set during the colonial era, and this is reinforced through the manner in which the stage was set, and the numerous festivities which took place — the market scene; the baby/ritual scene; and the court dispute between the colonial district officer and the people. The latter is unarguably the strongest supporter of the claim that the play is set during the colonial era because it not only captures the communication problems that plagued the colonial masters due to their inability to grasp the local languages employed by their subjects, but also captures the presence of the white man (The district officer); hence, justifying the time setting— that is, the colonial period. The place setting of the play is Lagos. The introduction of three characters at the beginning of the play who represent the three white-cap chiefs of Lagos is testament to this fact. They, unequivocally, strengthen the play’s genre — that is, a historical play.
The subject matter of the play revolves around a man, who was predestined to be king, right from birth. This information was exposed by the narrator, before the start of the play. Hence, one can say that the plot of the play is based on the child, whom the oracle chooses as king. As expected, he becomes the king of Lagos once he attains adulthood; although, the colonial government later wrestled power from him. It is important to state that the fulfillment of the prophecy on the life of the king is a common motif in Yoruba themed plays— that is, the oracle can never be wrong— such as Ola Rotimi’s The Gods are Not to Blame, where the pronouncements of the oracle on the main character comes to pass. Therefore, one can be justified to state that there is a theme of fate (inevitable destiny) in the play. Another thing that is worthwhile to discuss is how the scenes in the play are linked by an interlude of music and dance. These performances (music and dance) may be regarded as entertaining because of the choreographic dance steps employed by the dancers. Being a traditional play, these songs should have deeper meanings, but that is not the focus of this essay. So, this analysis will rate the musical interlude from the standpoint of pleasure and entertainment.
One may describe the stage management as almost impeccable due to the perfect way the stage was set to represent the setting, and also, their flawless deployment of the lighting technique. To me, it is this lighting technique that makes the play stand out. The lights came up when and where necessary, not a second too early or late. Unarguably, the lighting technique was most effective when it was employed to show time — that is, day and night. This topnotch use of this technique is also brought to the fore when the lights were dimmed during the ritual scene. The solemnity and sacredness of the rituals were well captured by the eerily spooky umbrella of semi-darkness. This was enough to make the watcher understand the importance of these rituals. Another important thing I noticed due to the arrangement of the stage is the market scene. The market scene is crucial in traditional plays. The market is known as a place where rumours and stories thrive. Little wonder the birth of the would be king is announced in the market setting. The market scene is also ideal for announcement of the king’s birth because it reinforces Soyinka’s principle in Death and the King’s Horseman of the market place being a strategic location for the meeting of the three realities in Yoruba mythology — that is, the world of the unborn; the world of the living; and the world of the dead. It is important to note that the market place also serves as a link between these realities. Hence, this well believed myth strengthens the writer’s use of the market scene to announce a transition — that is, from the world of the unborn to the world of the living. The stage management was described as almost impeccable at the beginning of the paragraph because it had slight flaws. One of such flaws is the bad sound systems used in the play. Aside this, one can be justified to give the stage management crew an excellent score for a job well done.
Also, the gestures of the actors also enable non speakers of the Yoruba language to have an insight on some of the happenings in the play. The slow pace, with which those who are to make prophecies on the child move, gives insight to the audience that these men must be truly special and of high importance in the society. The greatness which is proclaimed on the baby is evident when the priests and other spectators bow to the child. However, the child’s mother refuses to bow to her child; hence, bringing into play the African belief that expects a child to prostrate himself to his parents, and not the other way round.
In conclusion, if I were asked to give my personal opinion on the play, I would rate it as a largely successful performance. The topnotch techniques employed by the stage management crew played a huge role in this. As a member of the audience who could not fully grasp the dialogues, I was entertained by the dance interlude. Hence, I can boldly describe the play as a successful one. In conclusion, this essay has made an attempt to analyse the production of the play Matiiku.
Ola Rotimi’s The Gods are Not to Blame.
Wole Soyinka’s Death and the King’s Horseman.
“Who is up for a game of Truth or Dare?” I ask, looking between Tim and the two girls inside of the pool, the back of my shoulders leaning against the ledge.
“Me! I am!” Lauren screams. “How exciting! Let’s do it! Woo!”
She grasps the neck of a Bacardi Limon. She hoists the bottle above the pool’s surface, as she wades in the six-feet-deep water, repeatedly pushing her right arm out to stay afloat. Her eyelids flutter — after she guzzles a few shots worth of liquor — and she continues to use her left arm for sustaining the Bacardi in air . . . post-drink. Next she leers at Tonya, whom is vastly more coherent and nearly sober after drinking a can of Bud Ice. Tonya drank a shot or two of Raspberry Vodka, as well, which has barely loosened her up. Other than a quick “Hello” to the both of us, she hasn’t said anything since our arrival. We showed up here to Lauren’s (i.e. her parent’s) impressive estate about ten minutes ago.
Lauren raises the 70 cl bottle — pressing it to her lips, awkwardly — before draining the last of its contents. She screams “Woo!” again. She whips her hair, flipping it left and right, inelegantly splashing her delicate, bony shoulders.
“I’ll go,” Tim says, laughs uproariously.
“Well, first . . . why don’t the ladies decide,” I say, looking for my High Life and not instantly finding the fat, heavy bottle.
Tonya watches my eyes, so I decisively flash her with a flirtatious smile. Next I push myself up — using the flat surface of my slippery palms — and lift out of the water. I sit on the pool’s concrete rim. “Tonya, you up for a game of Truth or Dare . . . or what? This is getting boring. My fingers are beginning to wrinkle like my prune-shaped privates over here.”
“Shit yea,” Tim adds, as if similarly prunish. “Let’s play already.”
“Too immoral,” Tonya warns, looking to Lauren with visible anxiety, until further vocalizing her genuine concerns: “I don’t know, Vince. Something bad could happen.”
“We’re not two bad guys,” Tim argues, moving water with his outstretched arms, repeatedly widening them and carrying them inwardly again, doing so while kicking his legs. They flicker, at light speed, other times conversely appearing to travel extra slowly. “We’re not evil, Tonya . . . Lauren.” His suave, winsome grin grows several inches, conspicuously evincing his eagerness. “Just sinners . . . right?”
He cackles and violently splashes a spray of water toward Tonya. “Play the game!”
Tonya deflects most of the water, showing impressive reflexes shielding herself by using hands and forearms as facial protection.
“Bad guys and sinners are pretty much one and the same thing,” she says, intentionally glaring in my direction. After dodging a new splash of soaring water, she erects her head and surprisingly her fuchsia fingernails slip like magnets away from each other in a sonorous snap, and — after lifting her same hand — she points at where I sit along the ledge. “Watch your boy, Vince. He’s out of control.”
“I’ll let you know why they aren’t the same,” I say, after rediscovering my thirty-two ounce of Miller High Life. It’s located to the left side of my hip, a foot away and completely knocked over on its side. I grab the neck, open the bottle, swig a bit of beer, and brush water off my Scooby Doo designed board shorts. I’m still a die-hard fan.
“Go ahead. Explain. I’ll listen,” Lauren says, outwardly enjoying my introductory set up on the surface of her covergirl face with a tiny, pert grin.
“The difference between them . . .” I begin, trying to sound officious and knowledgeable. ” . . . Tonya, is that a sinner — by very nature, at the core — does not intend to harm a soul. Bad people, evildoers . . . now, they’re an entirely different subject.”
“And why’s that?” Tonya responds.
“Once again, bad guys commit acts of evil. Right? What’s evil, really? Evil is when you hurt — or, even — when you wantor desire to hurt yourself or someone else. Point being, the wrongdoing is malicious and fully intentional. The deliberate decision to hurt your fellow woman and man, well . . . that just might be the worst transgression there is. Period.”
Again the thick-glassed bottle of Miller is angled toward my mouth. I swallow a couple more ounces of foamy, golden-brown beer. “Of course, a sinner’s propensities are typically related to partying. Far be it from me to be hyperbolic, but sinning can be incredibly fun. We do it to loosen up, rid ourselves of unwanted inhibitions and actually enjoy life. If sin is carefully controlled, it can hardly harm anybody. Nobody dies from it. Nobody ever gets hurt too badly. Wouldn’t you agree, Tonya?”
Tonya looks toward Lauren — as her sister sets the Bacardi bottle on the edge of the pool. It falls backward with a small, unceremonious plop into the water. Lauren even kicks it by her tiny heel, swimming away.
“Yes,” Tonya agrees, just slightly grinning. “I guess that is a sensible way of looking at the difference between evildoers and sinners. Perhaps I was overreacting just a little.”
“So, now we can play a game of Truth or Dare?” Tim asks, boldly.
Tonya still holds a noticeable amount of trepidation.
“We’ll keep it controlled, then?” she whimpers, nervously.
“Who’s first,” says Tim, raising his wet hand and waving it. “I’ll go,” he says. “Do me. Hey — everyone hear that — I just said do me. That’s hilarious.”
“Fine,” says Lauren. Her eyelids lifting and falling down from drunkenness, she effortfully lunges toward Tim in slowed, moon-walking style leaps. “Truth or dare, Timmy. You’re so cute. Like a puppy dog. I just want to pet you all day . . .”
She pats the empty air, then — so the imitative gesture is better seen — slaps the blue water’s surface that’s comfortably heated at seventy-two degrees, until she arrives in similar bobbing fashion to Tim’s front side. “Say dare, Tim . . . or I’ll chop your prick off with my fingernails.”
She arranges her apple-red fingernails into a threatening cat’s claw, adding, “Choose dare. Don’t make me castrate you, Timmy.”
“Dare,” Tim says, unemotionally, eyes tethered in solemnity to Lauren’s.
“Good boy,” replies Lauren, as she excitedly claps once. She gestures with the bright fingernails now pointing at the shallow side of the pool. “Go French-kiss Tonya. I want to see tongues entwining like Lesbians during sex. Thirty seconds of noisy making out. Half a minute . . . or it won’t count guys.”
Tim looks at Tonya impassively treading water with her arms and legs. He races toward her without checking for agreement on Tonya’s face. Tonya acquiesces, choosing to hop over — rather than swimming toward him — at a slow-moving advance. They embrace like old lovers and their lips connect together exchanging tongues for the requested period of time.
“Woo!” Lauren screams, but then something catches her intoxicated attention.
She discovers another bottle of liquor near the glass table. The table is deliberately situated in front of the latitudinous vista, obviously so her prosperous family can view the flora and wildlife — consisting mostly of birds, coyotes, and occasionally wolves — whenever peering inside the vast canyon behind Lauren’s home.
She fights through water to the edge of the pool, lifts out, sprints over the wet concrete in a frightfully tentative fashion, presumably in pursuit of the liquor bottle. She amazingly reaches the table without experiencing an injurious pratfall. She secures the bottle in her shaky grip, and — after almost dropping it, but catching the bottle with her knees — carries the liquor back to the pool and jumps into the water. She rises back up with the bottle of Raspberry Vodka.
“Who’s next?” she exclaims, loudly.
“Vince,” Tonya says.
She looks over to me with an aloof, joyful expression, as Tim confidently leaps back to the deeper end of the pool. He then pushes off the wall like an Olympic swimmer — two feet at a time — and his medium-height body (five feet and nine inches) torpedoes all the way through the middle area and approaches the six-feet water again.
“Fine, I’ll go,” I say, holding my beer, enjoying the elevated view from the ledge.
“Truth or dare?” Tonya asks, eagerly.
“Truth,” I reply.
“No, you chicken-shit —” Lauren interjects, exhibiting her cat-like claw and vehemently shaking her head in angry protest. She raises the Raspberry Vodka, only now to discover there’s no more liquor inside of the bottle. For a second or two, clearly, her disappointment overcomes her facial expression, but then, after a demonstrative shrugging of her shoulders, she heaves a sigh and follows that with a perky sweeping of her head. Her hair immediately fans out and shoots pellets of water away like an aqueous sort of machine gun.
“Don’t be a loser, Vince,” she says, throwing the bottle on the grass.
She turns at the edge of the pool and forms the kitty claws once more. “Don’t think I won’t chop your Johnson off, too. Vince chooses dare. He is doing a dare.”
“Fine. Dare, then. If it will make Lauren happy, I’ll —”
“— Terrific!” Lauren practically shouts.
Tonya looks at us, inspecting Lauren and myself while choosing the dare.
I swig the very last of the Miller High Life, discard the bottle by getting out and responsibly depositing it inside the only waste receptacle. Afterward, my strongest desire is to immediately slip back into the warm pool.
“I dare you to suck Lauren’s nipple,” Tonya says, surprisingly. “Go,” she says, clapping, finally showing a similar level of enthusiasm as her sister. “Suck Lauren’s nipple, Vince.”
“What?” I say, laughing. Afterward, I curiously look toward Lauren.
Lauren doesn’t appear disagreeable to the idea. So I change my mind. “Fine. I’m up for it.”
I walk toward Lauren’s thin frame in the water. She fixes her hair, so the wet strands cling to the back of her shoulders, preliminarily kept away from her face. I wait, as she lowers her top, giggling and then looking in different directions with a closed-lipped, immodest smile, noticeably excited the game has elevated in this manner. Once her full breast is exposed, she motions for me to approach with a welcoming arm gesture. I get closer, lower down to her chest, and — as dared — wrap my lips around the protruding bump. Her nipple looks like a pink bull’s-eye. It’s the size of a pushpin and closely resembles the game piece from “Sorry” that advances across the collapsible playing board. The supple breast tastes like chlorinated water, as I lap my tongue around the nipple, ever so lightly holding the tit as I do.
“Enough,” I say, raising my head . . . sort of like an overstuffed baby . . . from the exposed breast. “Who’s going to go next? Tonya . . . truth or dare? We all doing dares? Yes, no — what?”
“Dare!” Lauren shouts for her sister.
She rearranges her lime-green top over her breasts, covering up slowly and afterward straightening the upper portion of her two-piece. Desire to sustain the level of excitement is equally felt by everyone, especially Tonya, enduring the high pitch of Lauren’s continual screaming within elbow’s length of her: “Dare! Dare!”
“Nothing raunchy. Shhh! I hear you —” Tonya reaches her open hand toward Lauren’s mouth, as if to tamp her lips, but never actually touches her. “Shhh! I hear you. Dare.”
“Nothing too gross, Vince.” As she spoke, her quarter-inch — similar in extension to Lauren’s — fingernails threaten to slice me to ribbons. She’s like Uma Thurman from “Kill Bill,” swinging her claws and making guttural noises like a tiger.
The twins clearly think alike. They most likely yield a similar taste, as well. Either way, more unknown information of their exquisite taste and feel will — undoubtedly — be stored securely in my head by game’s end. I’m sure to remember this night for a great while.
“I got a dare,” I say, smiling nefariously. “I dare you two . . . Tonya and Lauren . . . to both drop your tops and French-kiss each other.” I extend my smile, wryly adding: “And the makeout session must continue for at least half a minute. Otherwise, it doesn’t count.”
“We’re sisters —” Tonya argues, laughs toward starry, dark sky. “Would that turn you on, Vince? You Perv.”
“Yes. Yes it would,” I say, unabashedly. “I’d be very turned on by that.”
Lauren is already frontally nude — by this point— and her light-green top drifts away from her at the surface of leftward-moving, choppy water.
“Don’t be a chicken-shit, Sis,” Lauren hops toward Tonya.
Tonya winces, reaching behind her back. Her black floral-patterned top falls toward water, carried leftward toward a skimmer drain.
Soon their soft bodies melt into each other. Everything appears to interlock: tongues, B-sized breasts, shoulder-length hair, grasping each other’s arms with small identical hands, as they French uninhibitedly, unapologetically, unfettered by taboos or common reservations of any kind. As they disconnect bodies, they momentarily peer into each other’s eyes. They give confident stares, signaling what they’d just finished doing wasn’t a very big deal to them. They have done the same thing many times before! They finally look our way, Lauren bowing, then Tonya, both of them smiling and appearing euphoric.
“Excellent,” Tim says, clapping.
“Yes —” I add, clapping a few times. “Excellent. You two are hot as fire. The conflagration is quickly spreading to my heart. It’s en fuego, really. Lauren, Tonya, thank you. I can say, now, I have greatly matured from sharing this experience. Bravo. Who’s going to go, now?”
“I’ll go again,” Tim offers, still overjoyed at what he just saw.
He swims closer toward the three of us. He waves at the topless twins and noticeably elevates his eyebrows just a little, grinning, as he turns my way and shares a strong look of approval. He lifts them up further, still, as he glances between the naked girls again.
“Who wants to do me?”
He softly chortles to himself shaking his head, which was a pretty corny couple of things to do after his repetitious joke, even making his nervousness more conspicuous by batting a hand . . . somewhat effeminately, in truth . . . toward them. Due to a heightened sense of self-awareness, he grows very solemn again. “Nevermind. Who wants to ask me to do what— Tonya, Lauren?”
“I got an idea,” Lauren says, snappily. “Whip out your dick and jump in the pool.”
“What?” Tim says, feigning confusion.
“She said,” Tonya says, laughing. “Whip out your dick and jump in the pool.”
“Fuck it,” Tim says, apparently letting go of any misgivings.
His surf style board shorts — showing crabs and seaweed as a design — make a brisk ripping sound from the Velcro strap. From his small-bellied waist, the shorts slowly and consistently descend further into the somewhat transparent, slow-moving water. His bare ass is a toast-brown sort of color, flashing above the pool for a disgusting length of time, as he relies on his moderately strong forearms and triceps, while pushing up onto the ledge. He proceeds — naked as a child at birth — and as, though denying such would do him no favors, he suffers from a similar condition as neonatal boys having an exposed, shrunken penis.
He fiddles with his miniature shaft, until it is enlarged enough to be firmly gripped and swung about like a rope. Then, squeezing the dangling junk with his right hand, he proceeds to flail his penis in a cowboy-with-a-lasso kind of way — the tip wavering like a fish head — jumping back into the warm, splashy water.
“Woo!” Lauren screams.
Even Tonya, clapping herself, screams “Woo!”, but then she heads toward the other end of the pool. The departure is probably due to wanting to fix her looks. In truth, she’s a perfect ten without a single flaw. Always will be.
Tim resurfaces and immediately thrusts his head backward. The strident thwack of his six-inch long hair is a bold declaration of his triumph over inhibition and self-consciousness, the water sort of being like fireworks popping around his relatively handsome, bluish face. He’s a conqueror of all mankind’s greatest fear: a cold, wet penis.
“Vince,” he says, like he’d been baptized. “I got a dare for you, man.”
“What’s that,” I say, with a cool smile. “What is it?”
“I dare you to go down on Lauren.”
“What?” I say. “That’s crazy.”
“C’mon,” Tim says, confidently smiling. He elevates his open hand while it faces toward Lauren. “Sushi style. Do it. You’ve got to do that . . . for Lauren, Tonya, you, and myself . . . and do it for epic games of Truth or Dare occurring everywhere.”
I’ve been hoping from years of escalating flirtation with Tonya to hookup with her, but Lauren isn’t a poor choice as a girlfriend either. She’s quite a knockout in appearance and personality herself, at least when judging from what I’ve learned tonight. Occasionally, Lauren would appear at Pay Less, when Tonya and I were both working together, yet she was always so taciturn and inaccessible, perhaps, wrongfully, I had her pegged as the unapproachable type. I figured she was mostly concerned with reading lengthy books and praying at church. I assumed she would only accept an earnest marriage proposal after “hanging out” with a guy for years, rather than agree to “date” a person.
Tonya has wandered over to the farther away end of the pool. She searches for something; meanwhile her bare thigh gently taps against the fourth step leading to ground. She finally finds her handbag, toward the left and resting only inches from the pool’s edge. She fumbles with something inside of the purse, most likely a bottle of perfume or some kind of compact.
“I’m naked below,” Lauren says, as if to steal attention.
“I heard that —” I say, immersing myself in a moment of impetuousness. “Let’s do this.”
“Awesome!” Tim shouts in a deep cry. He cups his mouth. Booms: “I can’t believe this is happening!” so the words echo across the canyon. The canyon shouts his words back.
I close my eyes before submerging in the warm pool. Realizing I’d have to do so sooner or later, I open them up again and swim froggy-style toward the pale pillars sweeping and kicking a few yards away. They drop and lift, recurrently, but they never fall below a foot above the elusive sight of the pool’s floor.
I arrive at Lauren’s — no more than — 130-pound treading body. I lightly hold her legs, encircling both of my thumbs and index fingers around the smooth, doughy flesh above her knees. Afterward, I reel out my tongue and connect lips to her exposed vaginal area. A lump, the clitoris, juts from the top of the dark purplish-red hole, a fact I’d known prior to the old South Park joke. I lick the salty portion of skin around the clitoris, under a thick bush of frazzled hair. It isn’t till — and only after — an ocular and indisputable check, that I realize my tongue is abrading six or seven or eight, even, tiny, button-like protuberances, collectively lining the purple walls of her vagina, as well