Chief Femi Branch, who is an actor, playwright, and poet, has announced his plans to launch an annual play festival tagged Femi Branch Playfest to marks his 50th birthday.
The Maiden edition of the festival will hold from May 25th to May 31st at the MUSON Centre, Onikan, Lagos, featuring five of his plays: Po!, Shalanga, Jungle Justice, Ankara Committee, and Kunme The Musical, which are all going to be performed by selected troupes.
The actor is also going to tour 10 cities from April 3rd to June 21st with Kunme The Musical and Festival Play.
The cities include Ife, Akure, Ado Ekiti, Ibadan and Abeokuta. Other cities the play would be seen include Ijebu Ode, Ikorodu, Badagry, Benin, and Abuja.
The playwright who is clocking 50 on the 14th of May said the play which is named after his mum exhibits the qualities of Queen Esther in the Holy Bible.
The story was plotted in ‘Badagry’ and according to him is in honour of his mother and grandmother.
“I’m using it to honour my mother and my grandmother, my mother is from Badagry.a
“In fact, this play is to honour my mother because the title of the play is her name, she is the original Kunme.”
Speaking on the play, he said:
“I found out there was a lot of things that happened that were not written in the biblical account. There was so much humour in that story. And the story is adapted to a Nigerian setting. We’re looking at women empowerment and empowerment of the girl child because that is the story of Esther. This was the story of a young girl that took on the burden of an entire nation and she laid her life on the line. It goes to celebrate the strength of our womenfolk as well. It goes to show the sacrifice that women make on a daily.”
Branch also disclosed that apart from celebrating his birthday, the festival is also a mentorship program to develop and nurture young acting talents selected from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, with the aid of Femi Branch Master Class.
He also said that “Kunme The Musical” will be performed by the students selected after an audition for actors, singers, dancers, and musicians slated for February 25th at the Dramatic Arts department of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife.
“You’ll be amazed at the potentials of the student actors. And you know, the passion is still very strong. So, they will give their all,” he said.
Branch said his intention is to leave a mark to inspire others and also hoping this would be done every year, saying he has enough unpublished plays.
“What I’m thinking of from this point now is legacy. It is my hope, my desire, my prayer that after I’m gone, the Femi Branch Playfest will continue. There would be people who would want to perform the Femi Branch plays. So, it is primarily about Femi Branch plays. Now, I talk about mentoring the young ones. I’m not just mentoring them as actors but also as playwrights as well. So, there’s a possibility that I might have any of my mentees that also happen to write a play, I can feature his play in my festival,” he said.