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#MeetTheCast: Interview with Shattered’s writer Bode AsiyanbiBy Admin on September 28, 2015

Bode Asiyanbi


"I'll paraphrase Hemingway. There is nothing to writing or the arts. All you do is sit down at a typewriter or workstation, and bleed." - Bode Asiyanbi


October 2015 at TerraKulture is a pivotal month, as Theatre@Terra hosts an award-winning but also poignant stage play written by Bode Asiyanbi – Shattered. Shattered is a play about rape and the awkward sometimes societal omerta that surrounds the victim’s violation.

This run of Shattered at TerraKulture couldn’t have come at a better time, especially against the backdrop of the stellar work being done by the S.T.E.R Initiative(#standtoendrape) in helping victims and society at-large #breakthesilence.

We’ve been fortunate to get this rare opportunity to poke around the playwright’s mind, motivations and methods – well as much as can be done via email. He graciously responded to a number of questions we asked him in order to unmask the brains behind this intriguing literary work. Here goes.

For those Lagosians & Nigerians who are just catching the literary bug, who is Bode Asiyanbi?

A scientist by training and a writer by inclination, I was educated in Ife and Lancaster, and I come from a long line of village weavers and itinerant dreamers.

Where did the inspiration behind the story for Shattered come from?

Life. And of course my belief in the innate tendency of art in the shaping of thoughts, and as a vehicle for Life’s imitative instinct for expression and direction.

In life, we have witnessed the festering of the unforgivable crime of rape and the trauma of shame, self loathing and the societal code of silence imposed on victims, especially when it is perpetrated by a member of the family. Art speaks to life on what should be from the whirlpool of what should not.

How did you feel when you got wind of the news that the play had won the BBC Award?

Delighted. Delighted mainly because of the important subject matter, and of course I also became a believer in the talent of luck in winning the award for the second time. You’ve got to have the talent of luck to be the only writer to have pulled that double.

What mindset would you like the audience to approach this play with?

The mindset of a sailor on a voyage of discovery. Let down your guards and see life as it is; in the lone voice of art, shouting in the wilderness: It could be you or someone close to you. Rape under any circumstance can never be the fault of the victim.

Some argue that people invite rape by flirting, by their dressing or by being at the wrong place and all sorts of pathetic excuses. You don’t walk into a shop and pick up an item just because it is on open display unless you are a criminal.

And equally important is understanding the dark silence, the hush hush philosophy of rape, where the victim is shamed into silence by family.

Do you only write for the stage?

I write prose and poetry. I also write for radio, television and the big screen.

Does success with a project like Shattered change your perspective and how?

Well, maybe in the response. After it came on air , it generated a positive and emotional response and that segued into a conversation which was important because people saw the helplessness of the protagonist and they understood that the scars go beyond the physical.

Such conversations should be continuous and should be wired into the subliminal. It is a dangerous thing when rape is seen as trivial in any society. Any society that condones rape, even subtly by inaction, will condone the gravest of crimes. It is a symptom of a dysfunctional society and warped value system.

What other works have you written since Shattered?

Several short stories and two stage plays. One is coming very soon to a theatre near you.

What are you currently working on now and in the near future?

I’m working on my first novel, a television series, and another Prize Winning play which would hit the stage next year.

Where would you like to see Nigeria’s literature and arts in 5-10 years?

I want to see more truthful stories told and of course greater emphasis on purity of the arts.

What challenges do you think need to be overcome for the literature and the arts to thrive in Nigeria?

We have to overcome ourselves. We need to overcome our smash and grab, fire brigade approach to life .

This is a personal belief, I think relationship with the arts should start from the cradle. I grew up with books all round me. I grew up on Kola Onadipe, Kipling, Blyton, Stevenson, Achebe, Morrison, Soyinka and other seminal storytellers. I grew up to a record rack of Fela, Marley, Donaldson, Abba, and many others. I see the arts like golf or tennis. You’ve got to start early. It’s not a surprise we don’t really excel in such sports.

That said, interesting things are happening in the arts presently, thanks to plucky, driven and talented individuals and organizations. Renegade Theatre, PAW Studios, Saraba, Farafina, ParresiaEtisalat, glo, British Council and many others; charting new paths in the face of apathy and obvious challenges. It can only get better and it will.

Any words for the up and coming in the Nigerian literary and arts industry?

I’ll paraphrase Hemingway. There is nothing to writing or the arts. All you do is sit down at a typewriter or workstation, and bleed.

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