Azuka my sometimes friend had called me and asked me to join her to go see a play titled 3some. Azuka is an influential journalist with a finger on the happenings in the social circle. She gets all the powerful invites and is also a mover and shaker. Well, the title of the play intrigued me and I decided to go see the play with Mudi my legendary fashion designer friend.
It was at the Freedom Park during the Lagos Theatre Festival. There were over five plays going on at the same time but I noticed the crowd was headed to the amphitheater where Jude Idada’s play 3some was gearing up to be shown.
As I sat down with Mudi to see the play, the strange possibilities of the story touched me. The dialogue was deep and resonating nothing like I have seen in a long while. It was deep, twisting and unwinding. Real psycho and if you now add the erotic nature of the plot with the wild crescendo that was the strip dance by Chioma you had gold in your hands.
While the crowd was screaming and trying to hide erections, I was dreaming possibilities. I was seeing a wider release to a larger audience, a major push away from this motley crowd of media, entertainment people and theatre denizens. I started laughing at the shock I would be throwing at a more conventional audience. The bankers, the Christians and the ultra-conservative people who would not discuss sex openly even though they indulged massively in it within the darkness of the many holes that pervade Lagos.
I went to see Jude. Jude was a tall, dark and strangely good-looking guy with a calm mien. He had a strange resemblance to the weird one himself, Charly Boy. I told him of my plans and he agreed to it. We agreed to meet much later to discuss this possibility in its entirety.
The budget was little compared to what I had done in the past. The cast size was tiny. It was four and I was just coming out of Oba Esugbayi which had 70 gifted thespians handled by the mad genius – William Benson. So this was a piece of cake.
However, as the budget grew, the rejections increased. Some brands could not even get past the title of the play. Over 100 proposals with a 90% rejection; I was facing a crisis. Jude with his quest for perfection was running like a wild horse. He wanted the best sound, the best set, the best acoustics, photo shoot etc. and here was I with bowls of rejection. My traditional supporters understandably so turned their back for fear of a backlash. It was not just sex, it was S&M. This Edgar must be really mad no wonder he had stopped combing his hair.
Then I ran to my sister Bikiya Graham Douglas; the incredibly talented actress and she said something, ‘Edgar I think you are the only Producer that can do this. The society is ready for this. Do it, I know you can’ – that fueled my passion and I ran into the next rejection headlong.
But we did not give up, we continued the push. As I watched these gifted thespians rehearse their lines. Kemi Bickersteth showing incredible interest by moving across the length and breadth of Lagos to rehearsals and joining in in the media push at radio stations. Marvelous joining me in the marketing push and everybody being incredibly involved in the process. It was wonderful.
We fought o, especially me and Jude o. One night we fought over the budget and the man walked out on me locking himself in his room like a jilted lover. Uzor vexing that I could not seem to get the spelling of her name right and then my favourite Ayomide or Ayobami till the end I never could get the right name. Will I mention my star leading man, Patrick Diabouh. He had escaped working with me in one of my earliest productions but this time, I will get him. He did wonderfully well eliciting a standing ovation after every showing. Cynthia the costumier fought me to a standstill but her quest for perfection as undeniable.
And then the levees broke, the sponsors started coming one after the other. Makari, Studio 24, Cars 45, Ouch, Timekeepers, So Fresh and Pay Attitude amongst others. They were plenty o, over 20 too much to mention in this piece but still very strategic.
And the opening night, the stage was set, the most expensive set that Lekan had ever built; all N700,000 of it complete with pictures of the couple from a photo shoot Jude had insisted on and which I had dodged to pay. It was beautiful and I could hear the gasp as the audience walked in.
The last show was massive. Lagos was empty. They were all at the Agip Recital Hall of the Muson Centre. The earlier shows had led to a deluge of social media messages which pushed in a flood gate. This energized the cast as they gave their best. As I watched the silhouette as Patrick took his mother in-law upstairs, I looked across the hall and it was a potpourri of emotions – screaming, shock, excitement, arousal all mixed in a mesh of collective excitement.
As I stood in the darkened hall, I allowed a small tear drop from my eyes down my fine face as I come to the realization that I had broken the glass ceiling, thanks to Jude and these kids. Lagos has come out of the closet. Lagos was ready to confront its sexuality with the boldness of a mare in heat. I bowed my head in supplication only to raise it at the very moment Patrick held the huge pink vibrator leading me to whisper under a relieving breath – ‘Edgar, you are mad’