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Death and the King's Horseman

By: Wole Soyinka

Morgan Green

on 11 May 2011

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Transcript of Death and the King's Horseman

Death and the King's Horseman
By: Wole Soyinka Other works by Wole
The Swamp Dwellers
The Lion and the Jewel
The Trials of Brother Jero
A Dance of the Forests
The Strong Breed
Before the Blackout
Kongi’s Harvest
The Road
The Bacchae of Euripides
Madmen and Specialists
Camwood on the Leaves
Jero’s Metamorphosis
Death and the King’s Horseman
Opera Wonyosi
Requiem for a Futurologist
A Playof Giants
A Scourge of Hyacinths(radio play)
The Beatification of the Area Boy
King Baabu
Etiki Revu Wetin Synopsis

Death and the King's horseman is about Elesin who's job as the king's horseman is to die 30 days after the king's death in order to help him in the afterlife.Elesin is determined and sure of his decision to follow through with his duty. During this time the British have overtaken the village. Elesin goes to the market where he is followed by women. In his last attempt to be a man he finds one woman he loves who makes him second guess his promise to the tribe as the King's Horseman. The Pilkings are British occupying and almost mocking the traditions of the Nigerian village. Elesin has a son who is caught between tradition and between contemporary studies. He comes home to prepare his father's funeral. He then finds that his father did not fulfill his duty. His son then gives his life instead in place of Elesin. Elsin then kills himself which was essentially his duty in the first place. Themes

A few themes are discussed throughout the play.. One of the major themes is passion versus reality. Elsin falls in love (or lust") with a woman in the midst of him having to fulfill his duty. Man vs. Self is very apparent in the play. Also Man vs. Society. Elsin's son, Olunde, has ventured off into England to go to medical school. His struggle is between traditon and pleasing his father. There is also a conflict between tradition and contmporary. The pilkings tought teir way of life was superior to the traditions of Elsin's tribe. Costume Design


On my quest to learn about costuming I found a useful Color wheel. In this color wheel it breaks down colors and then breaks down colors even further than that.

I saw Elesin in a gold color. Gold signifies royalty. Elesin is royalty. He is the right hand to the king. I even toiled with Elesin wearing red on his person until he decided to not go through with his decision and take off that piece of clothing. Olunde
Olunde is the son of Elsin. He has moved to England to go to medical school. He has left behind the traditions of his people. His father is not proud. I thought it would be cool to keep in a modern english outfit. This shows his assimiliation to the english culture. The conflict of him coming back to the village will be heightened due to his different clothing from those he has known all his life. The pilkings have come into this colony with a mindset of superiority. At one point they even mock the traditions of the Nigerian people. I felt it necessary to show an exaggeration of the costumes for the pilkings.
The village women are an important part of the story. From amongst them comes the woman that distracts Elesin from his duty. These women wear the traditional nigerian wear. Festive with hair wraps and sashes. Varying colors of pink, red, orange, purple, and white are amongst them. Costumes
Costumes Past Productions and reviews The Austin Chronicle...

"Death and the King's Horseman
A vibrant, captivating production of a magnificent play that speaks beautifully on death, life, and human nature" Yoruba

The task since birth of Elesin was to commit suicide a month after the death of the king. The people of Yoruba would be devastated if the task was not carried out. Nature and life would be thrown off. The clash of the two societies is apparent in the conflict. Costumes Costume for the young woman who catches Elesin's eye... Nigerian Theater

Nigerian theater is used to comment on problems and issues in society.

Wole used this play as an opportunity to show how he believed that the Nigerian Government did not represent the Nigerian people properly.

Ahmed Yerima speaks against various Nigerian governments' anti-people policies in his work. Important Theater Artists

Adebayo Faleti has been working in theaters in Nigeria since 1949

Gregory Odutayo- President of the National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners.

Lasun Ray Eyiwumi, Kunle Afodunrin been producing in Nigeria sincec 1991. Principal Characters

Elesin-King's horsemen

Iyajola-Mother of the Market

Olunde-Elesin's son who is in England

Simon and Jane Pilking-From Britain.

Amusa- Muslim converted to the British ways. Wole was born on July 13 1934. His father was a headmaster at the school he attended. His mother was a shopkeeper and respected politician. He went to grammar school and then on to the Idaban University. He then transferred to Leeds upon graduating and got a degree in English in England. Some of his honors include a Nobel Peace Prize and Honorary Doctorate Degrees at Harvard and PRinceton. He was a reader at the Royal Court Theater in London. He now is a teacher at UNLV. Action-

To die with honor or to live with possible regret? Rehearsal Process of Theater in Nigeria...
heavily influenced by the concept of ‘rehearsal theatre’ developed by Augusto Boal.
-After each ‘rehearsal’, the [actors] analyzed their actions [their] limitations and potential obstacles- and then redramatised their course of action. Nigerian Salaries

Range of Annual Salaries
Typical Theatre Artist - 1,644,000 Nigerian Naira (approx. 10,500 US Dollars)
Very Successful Theatre Artist - 7,439,000 Nigerian Naira (approx. 47,500 US Dollars)

Directorial Approach.... Scenery Approach Costume Approach... Take a week to look at the culture of the Nigerian people..

Immediately raise the stakes with the Principals..
Understand your duty as an actor and understand your duty in the village First produced in Vivian Beaumont Theater March 1st 1976 Death and the Kings Horsemen asks so many questions and leaves the audience answering them.
What do you do when you neglect your duties to follow a conflicting passion? What do you choose when the Traditions of your people conflict with the Norms of an ever changing society? In Wole Soyinka's Death and the King's Horseman Elesin battles completing a sacred tribal ritual that if neglected could shake the foundations that his very village was built upon. Olyunde, his son, finds himself stuck between a rock and a hard place chasing a passion for medicine and leaving behind a family who knows nothing but the traditions their forefathers endured and respected. The Pilkings who believe their society is the only properly functioning society by which one should live by. So many tough questions are confronted and unfortunately lives are lost trying to find the answer appease the other. What is more important the family name or life? Tradition or Contemporary? Fulfilling your duty or following your emotions? Publicity Tactics... Producer's Approach
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