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Once Upon Four Robbers: the magic of subversion (introduction)

Once Upon Four Robbers: the magic of subversion (introduction)

Adeyemi, Sola (2011) Once Upon Four Robbers: the magic of subversion (introduction). In: Osofisan, Femi, (ed.) Once Upon Four Robbers. Mosuro Publishers, Ibadan, Nigeria, pp. 6-15. ISBN 9783613693

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Once Upon Four Robbers is the first in the series of dramas that Osofisan refers to as
the ‘magic boon’ plays. Written between 1976 and 1978, the play was premiered at
the Arts Theatre, University of Ibadan in March 1979. The other play in the series is
Esu and the Vagabond Minstrels.

The central motif of the magic boon plays is borrowed or adapted from the world of
folklore. A group of persons in anguish or dilemma suddenly obtains a magical power
from a mysterious agent. The power is capable of changing their circumstances as
long as they adhere strictly to expressed injunctions.

Osofisan confesses to be fascinated by the possibilities that magic presents in
dramatising societal issues that may otherwise prove difficult to discuss, ‘especially
when you are criticising the government.’ The dramatist planned ten magic boon
plays but only two have been written, or produced so far.

Four Robbers is popular with students because of the topicality of the theme of armed
robbery and the ability to be produced on a bare stage, without a cumbersome setting.
The play is also adaptable; and though the prescribed setting is market place,
producers have sometimes changed that setting to a bank, a beach or casino.

Four Robbers is set in a market square, which is a symbolic location in Yoruba
worldview. Osofisan wrote the play to contribute to the debate on public execution of
armed robbers in Nigeria. The play examines the moral and legal definitions of
‘robbery’ in the wider sense, and the implications of the Armed Robbery and
Firearms Decree 47 of 1970 on the public psyche.

Item Type: Book Section
Uncontrolled Keywords: African Theatre, drama, politics, religion, Femi Osofisan
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PL Languages and literatures of Eastern Asia, Africa, Oceania
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0080 Criticism
Pre-2014 Departments: School of Humanities & Social Sciences
School of Humanities & Social Sciences > Department of Communications & Creative Arts
Last Modified: 14 Oct 2016 09:25

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