Writings of the general word's body

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Taiwo Ajai-Lycett

“As a young man, Joseph is taunted by the cooler British-Caribbean kids for his accent and his humility. Ditching his Ghanaian heritage, Joseph becomes Joe, an icon of urban Black identity. Premier league clubs, venal agents and one-night women all want a piece, but one night in a hotel room with the lovely Lauren and it all gets out of control. As the abyss opens, Joe discovers how much he has lost and how little of him remains.”

So goes the intro to Roy Williams’ Joe Guy, a play about African and Caribbean tensions in the UK, which played at the Soho Theatre, London, from 23 October to 24 November. The play rang too uncomfortably true in places, as Joseph suffers vicious taunting for being African. He takes the easy way out and ‘loses’ himself, transforming into the fast talking and very ‘urban’ Joe. He is played by the actor Abdul Salis, and we caught up briefly with him after the performance of 2nd November. By ‘we’ I mean myself, dancer Bolaji Badejo, actress Taiwo Ajai-Lycett and the Nigerian Guardian’s chief correspondent in London, Tunde Oyedoyin.

Let’s start with Bolaji Badejo (wife of choreographer Peter Badejo), who features as one of a trio of dancers on the cover of the book of Odia Ofeimun’s ‘Under African Skies’. As a member of the Pan African Dance Ensemble, Bolaji Badejo toured 14 UK venues (including the Queen Elizabeth Hall and Sadlers Wells) from May to November 1990.

It was great running into grand dame Taiwo Ajai-Lycett again at the Joe Guy performance (we first met at the 2005 Lagos Book and Art Festival at the Onikan Museum in Lagos). An actress on British television since the 70s - many will remember her as the thread-wrap-hairstyled beauty in the YouTube clip of ‘Some Mothers Do Have ‘Em’ – she’s back in the UK. Fresh from her role in Streetwise Opera’s production of ‘Critical Mass’, which played at the Almeida Theatre earlier this year, Ajai Lycett talked about about her plans for more acting roles this side of the world as Tunde Oyedoyin and I walked her to Oxford Circus Station at the end of the evening. Suffice to say, you’ll be seeing more and more of the lady in 2008.

  • Images by MW

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