In 2014, Hephzibah Adegboyega Jesutofunmi was a member of one of drama 101 group while I was made the group leader.
He was very shy and timid even while we were rehearsing for the stage play, the girls in the group never took it lightly with him or simply put, they never understood the predicament he was into.
Fast forward to circa a year after, he was a delight of the audience during the staging of some drama in the campus, sometime he even over shadows the main character. Unknown to the audience, this came with a price, he is still shy but never with the camera or while on stage.
In this long conversation, the always smiling but shy thespian took us on a long trip into his life.
When I enquired about you from people,they informed me you are a shy person but you are different while on stage, what’s responsible for this? Does any spirit enter you when you get on stage?
(laughs) of a truth, I revince you that the character is different from the actor. I also believe however that I’m only able to do these because a fraction of these characters lies dormant in me and only need expression. I’m simply an ambivert.
Can you describe where you are at the moment?
Speaking of where, if simply about location, Ondo town is where I’m at, Adeyemi college of education to be precise. That doesn’t feel like a description though, so I’d just hope you mean career wise. Right now, I’m at a point where I know that nothing is unachievable or impossible so let’s call it a state of high optimism.
What’s Bane all about and why did you had the second edition last week, what’s next after BANE?
BANE is a deep story about a lot of things, how that God still hears, how that life in itself is junk and that everything visible fades away and so a man’s reason for existence should be hinged upon the eternal than the temporal. Practically a cure for depression.
The second edition of the play is to a minimal degree because a lot of people missed the first edition and called back for it, and since it wasn’t covered, it just had to come back, another major factor is that, the theme of the story is not limited to time or space, it’s a story that is constantly in the present, so as much as we want to do what we love, we also want to plant seeds in the hearts of people. It never gets old, this one story.
After BANE?…well, I’m fleshing up another story, not necessarily a stage play this time, but I assure you that it’s something to look forward to, because even I get thrilled when I’m seated at it and I know if it thrills me, it should you too.
4. What do you think could be responsible for the low attention being given to stage drama in Nigeria?
Well, Stage drama in Nigeria, in all it’s beauty and glamour is limited by space and by time, as much as a few still crave the aesthetics of theatre, it’s only a few, the camera and visual effects has come to replace Stage drama because there’s scarcely a home with no television or a Nigerian without a phone on which he can see a movie of Choice, unlike stage drama, I once saw an advert for a one man stage drama in Lagos and as much as I wanted to be there, I was flat broke.
Let’s just say that the stage is eventually the last sacred home of theatre and our generation is losing sight of the sacred very very fast.
5. I could remember seeing you on stage performing in Drama 101 in your 100L days, has that course had any impact on your acting career so far?
(laughs) sometimes I remember those days and shiver in embarrassment, other times I just laugh. I had a bad history with the stage early in life and it marred my confidence, I never in my life would have gone on stage for a million dollars, I was that scared( I don’t trust myself about the million dollar thing though). I took the course that set me up with the stage again and it further broke me, but in the midst of that I had to make a choice, so here I am, grateful that I didn’t run, the course started a chain of events that now is unending, even I just had to sit down and watch myself unveil, from the boy who hid behind people on stage, and who was scared of hearing a voice recording of himself to the same who dared to be the only actor in a sixteen scenes long stage drama. The course practically reopened the door to the career.
6. Apart from acting, what else do you do?
I think this question was why it was easy to dodge the stage until I was forced unto it(laugh) besides acting, I draw, I love to draw, I actually at some point and faintly now Live off of the income from this, I paint too, to a degree, mostly landscape paintings of mountains and waters.
I draw comics too and I’ve in fact taken a serious interest into animation.
I sing, play the guitar and play the recorder also. I write my own songs, and I play my own music on both instruments.
I write too, I write fantasy stories, poems, just anything that could be written (except letters and essays).
I talk, I make friends, I dodge crowd(laugh)
I am a great cook too, seeking every opportunity to try something new.
At last, I’m a lover of knowledge so I read, study, search for everything that stirs my interest.
7. How do you get out of your worst moments?
Mummy taught me to pray, but life said “you can’t skip all of the bad days”, back when I was in myself, I just took my time to draw, drawing helped me push my emotions through lead or ink unto paper and off my mind, later poetry took that phase, then drama took it, and now, I just sow enough happiness in people so that on days when I am short of it myself, there’s at least ten people who would notice it and come to my aid, because being the boy I grew up to be, I didn’t know how to call for help so my face does that for me(I’m learning to now though). These help me through the bad days, more times though, it’s a message preached or a scripture read, but I’m never stranded.
8. What do you think I need to do if I want to impress you?
To impress me? (Alright let me take a long and lasting giggle at this) actually I think it takes being like me to impress me, overtime, I’ve come to realize that I am very childish (in a good way), and so to see someone else go out of their way to get something done for another person thrills me, and considering that there was a time in my life when I so badly wanted to impress some people who never seemed to notice me, it’s simple, if you notice me, I’m impressed!
9. Some school of thoughts believes Nollywood are fond of churning out frivolous movies, what’s your take on this?
well, I’m aware of this thought, but I’m also aware of this, that if these movies were totally void, and there’d been no demand whatsoever, there’d be little or no supply, you get all over YouTube and find about a million people have seen it online, more have seen it offline, sadly, we’re the very ones who request for these “frivolous” movies.
I think that the movie makers should add just a little or more to their study on movie making, I did a study and realized that Nollywood movies generally center around three things, love or relationship, crime and I can’t place the third now, and comedy is somewhat exaggerated, everyone wants to follow the trend, but not every body can write the trend effectively, and rather than carry out adequate research to produce a good movie, the producers know that their audience would receive it anyways.
Movie makers must reconfigure their minds on the purpose of making movies, this will help movies in Nollywood have better definitions, because sadly, movies mades nearly decades ago are suddenly being repackaged, it’s all for the money.
I also think that, Nollywood forgets about the diversities of the people that see their movies and try to reach just one audience, so whoever isn’t a part of their audience either manages to blend in or he totally “blanks out”. This is perhaps the major problem that Nollywood hasn’t seen.
I believe however that a new team of actors and veterans as well digging out treasures are soon going to help distribute new content across the diverse persons who have all the while tried to blend in or who’d “blanked out”.
10. I remember surfing the internet and seeing one of your picture at a movie location, between movie and stage drama, which of the two, do you prefer and why?
I love both, but I find it easier to get into silly characters on stage because the flow isn’t broken by a cut! Or a continuous session of repeating the same lines all over again for a “CU”. It’s very easy to improvise on stage and Hephzibally speaking, there’s times when it’s the improvisation that salted the play, or ruined it (laugh) The stage just feels like a natural habitat for me,
I love the stage because I’m used to it, and because I am being groomed on it, however my days on the stage are seemingly limited, so I’d better start loving the set as much(laughs).