The playwright moved from England to Ireland in 1996 and it coincided when a lot of immigrants started coming to the country. As a black theatre artist, he felt lucky to be involved in a number of diverse shows that displayed the diverse country that Ireland was becoming.
“Along the line (in 2003), I set up my own company, Arambe Productions, because I got tired of the roles I was playing; they were more or less the fodder,” he says. “I felt the time had come for the black people to represent themselves rather than portraying the representation created by a white person.”
Adigun met an author writing a book on the power of laughter, and was asked to contribute something on how he learned to laugh at Irish jokes, persuaded to see some films and plays to gather ideas. It was then he saw “The Playboy of the Western World” for the first time, but he didn’t understand it.
“That was the premise of my article and contribution to the book,” he says. “It is very difficult for an outsider to understand comedy. Comedy is culture-bound.”
That led to the idea to update the famous Irish play. Adigun notes the new rendition of the play emphasizes the changes that have happened in the country, including the relevant issues of immigration, inequality, and urban gangland crime.
“I said, it’s 100 years later, wouldn’t it be nice to change Christy Mahon to Christopher Malomo and proposed it to the board of my company,” Adigun says. “They suggested I call on Roddy Doyle to co-write with me, and I thought it was a fantastic idea for culturalism, and the rest is history.”
The modern version was also first staged at the Abbey Theatre, 100 years after the original. Now, Solas Nua will present the U.S. premiere, with the show being staged this November at the Atlas Performing Arts Center in D.C.
Directed by Shanara Gabrielle and starring Jamil Joseph as Christopher, the play will be staged for the first time in more than 15 years.
“I feel very honored and give Solas Nua kudos for picking up the challenge to give the American premiere a shot. I think it’s a very good company,” Adigun says. “This play is one of the most important cultural theatre pieces in the whole world, and I mean that. I think the audience will learn what can happen when two cultures come together and collaborate and work together.”
Solas Nua stages “The Playboy of the Western World” at the Atlas Performing Arts Center November 3 through 20.
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