Exclusive Interview: Emmylyskilz gives clarion call to government, investors, higher institutions and Theatre practitioners

“Hopefully the government of the day can help revive… Also this is a clarion call to all higher institutions of learning where… A clarion call also to Investors out there. Ibadan is The largest city in West Africa hence it has the potential to be able to house the biggest”… Read the full interview below.

Can you please let everyone know who you are and probably more details on your journey so far?

Emmylyskilz: Good evening Mr. Sola Soremekun. I am pleased to be with you. My name is Orisunmibare Emmanuel popularly known as Emmylyskilz. I am a graduate of Theatre Arts from the University of Ibadan where I am currently running my masters program. I am the resident producer and creative director for Emmylyskilz Productions a theatre, Film and Media company.

One of our projects is Stage Alive a monthly Theatre show that produces stage plays and live performances. It is currently running in Ibadan and Lagos as we look into expansion into other cities.

LT-RT: Taiyoung and Emmylyskilz during the last stage alive show

How did you get the name ‘Emmylyskilz’?

Emmylyskilz : Friends call me Emmy for short. A friend then in church Orteskilz he raps and I was rapping then too so I decided to go with Emmylyskilz. It made more sense to me when I got to UI. I realized Emmy is an English Award and since I got a lot of talents the Skilz became more propound hence Emmylyskilz.

It is often believed that only those with the silver spoon can actively venture and sustain themselves in the theatre and film industry. How true is this?

And is it safe to conclude that you also are one of those in possession of this vital sustainance mechanism?

Emmylyskilz: Theatre is a very lucrative business but the system here is not completely conducive for arts hence the difficulty in venturing into the business of Arts and Entertainment.

I don’t have the silver spoon but I possess the interest and strong will that will eventually buy me the silver, gold, diamond spoon. Theatre just like every other Entertainment business is capital intensive hence the reason why people believe it is only for people with silver spoon.

Stage Alive actors: Ojeola Timilehin and Mc Twinkle

With the situation of the country, most especially COVID 19 insurgence, what has been the coping strategy ?

What have you been doing?

Emmylyskilz : well if you mean before the relaxation of the lockdown and after it. Before the relaxation it was really a difficult venture cause we had to cancel 2 of our shows The Lion And The Jewel in March and the Passion of Christ in pidgin for April. This affected the business as I ran into debts cause of the cancellation. During the lockdown I Kept on working on strategies to help resume back after the lockdown. We resumed back in September and since then we have been working. We just finished our last show slated for October 4th as we go for the next show come November 1st.

How were you able to cope with the debts in such situation when everyone needed every single penny they could get?

Emmylyskilz: I dare not ask anyone at such a difficult time. I had to do extra works as soon as the lockdown was relaxed.

Such as? if you don’t mind. Abi you quickly ‘shashe’?

Emmylyskilz: Sashe báwo? I don’t know what you are talking about. On the other hand I went back to my MC craft attended some events. I was also a part of different projects as the creative head, content creator and also creative directing for a recent play that was showed on Hip TV on Independence day.

Tell us about the play?

Emmylyskilz: The Doctor With An Axe by Kenny Orire an adaptation of The Doctor Inspite of Himself by Moliere. The play featured Thin Tall Tony of Big Brother Naija. I directed and also acted.

Emmylyskilz, thin tall Tony and other actors during THE DOCTOR WITH AN AXE BY KENNY ORIRE OCTOBER 2020 LAGOS

And how has your recent shows be in terms of support and also challenges faced?

The people of Ibadan are really supportive. They have eyes for good content. The support has been really great we can only look forward to more in time to come. The audience at our last two shows have been pretty impressive too. It rained at our last show and just then I thought the show was over but the audience did not leave. Financial constraint has always and is still one of the challenge that we face as a production company. We believe that as our art continue to reach more people we will get all the support we need to keep flying. We will never stop working.

How have you been able to pull your actors and every other team member with the financial situation?

Emmylyskilz: Well it is a family. Everyone is always available when the trumpet sounds for work.

Is it then safe to conclude that they all have other means of income and they do theatre for just the love of it?

Emmylyskilz: I am a very honest person when it comes to my craft. My players are my family members hence I am always open to them. I Advice everyone to always have back up plans to support themselves in order not to crash out of the process. Everyone of them have other creative and business prowess that they rely on.

So, between Ibadan and Lagos, Where do you think will work more for you and why?

Emmylyskilz: Ibadan is The home of Stage Alive and that will not change. Stage Alive in Ibadan gave rise to Stage Alive in Lagos. The plan is to have Stage Alive in different parts of the world as long as we have the necessary resources. To make our reach limitless is the goal.

It is strongly believed that Lagos is the Centre of a whole of business including the entertainment industry which Theatre and film production comes under. Do you think that has changed?

Emmylyskilz: It has not changed. But everyone know where there strength Lies. Lagos will always be the centre of commerce that it is but it does not mean there are no other cities that are centre of commerce for different businesses.

what do you think Ibadan should do better, reduce, or stop doing better still?

Emmylyskilz: In terms of Theatre?

Yes. Theatre as a lucrative work of life

Emmylyskilz: A lot of people need to put up shows and performances. Hopefully the government of the day can help revive activities at the cultural centre. Also this is a clarion call to all higher institutions of learning where Theatre is being taught as a course to encourage students to put up Stage Plays aside practical exams to prepare them for the business of Arts. By the time all these are put in place Ibadan will become the centre of theatrical activities. A clarion call also to Investors out there. Ibadan is The largest city in West Africa hence it has the potential to be able to house the biggest Theatre projects with the right resources

Then to a question on sustaince again,

Is Theatre really a sustainable work to venture into? Taking lots of Nigerian nollywood actors and the Yorubahood actors into consideration

Emmylyskilz: Time and patience are the features one need to possess to attain that height. Theatre was almost going into extinction until practitioners started reviving it. Theatre is lucrative, the right Investor with the right planning is all that matters.

Tell us about stage alive , the new culture studio and the affiliation between both parties

Emmylyskilz: Stage Alive is a monthly Theatre show that happens first Sunday of every month in Ibadan and the last Sunday of every month in Lagos.

Stage Alive has 5 segments. The Red Carpet, The Live band, Giveaway / Raffle segment, Celebrants of the Month Segment where we celebrate people, Skits and other performances then the main play. New Culture Studio is very supportive of Theatre projects and events. Stage Alive was supposed to hold first there in March with The Lion And The Jewel by Wole Soyinka but was cancelled cause of COVID. Now we are back to business.

Live band

What intervention has the media played in stage alive?

Emmylyskilz: As far as I am concerned the media is one of the best thing happening to Stage Alive. Due to lack of funds we have had to result to only advertising via social media and we hope to do more.

So to say that the media is the best for and most cost-effective mean of promoting businesses?

Emmylyskilz: Yes!!!!!! Hopefully we get the necessary funds to be able to include Radio rounds, TV slots and print media and blogs

If school resumes, is stage alive findings its way back to the University of Ibadan stage?

Emmylyskilz: Every space is our playing area. As long as the team finds it very necessary.

Well, consistency in a particular place also helps too tho. In this case, to get more people in the main city of Ibadan to come and watch rather than stressing to get the location for each show each time.

Emmylyskilz: It’s just a matter of time before it gets to be a small issue.

It’s been really great having you so far. What will you like to leave ringing in people’s mind?

Emmylyskilz: Theatre is therapeutic and it can always help relieve stress. Whenever you need to take a rest Theatre is the purest form of Entertainment you can engage.

Thank you so much for your time and letting us have you sir. We appreciate it and will do our best to support your course in every way we can.

Emmylyskilz: Thank you very much to the entire team. Emmylyskilz Productions and Stage Alive really appreciate it.

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