Collected Plays 2 {The Lion and the Jewel; Kongi's Harvest; The Trials of Brother Jero; Jero's Metamorphosis; Madmen and Specialists}

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Wole Soyinka, a Nigerian, was the 1986 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature; download; he was the first African, and so far the only Black African, to win the prize. Collected Plays 2 {The Lion and the Jewel; Kongi's Harvest; The Trials of Brother Jero; Jero's Metamorphosis; Madmen and Specialists} PDF EBook Although he has written poetry, fiction and non- PDFfiction, he is best known as a playwright.

The Lion and the Jewel [1959] 58 pages

The second of his plays, this was written and performed in London in 1959, and published in 1963. It is a comedy, based on the rivalry of a young schoolteacher and an old polygamous chief to marry the village beauty. It is quite funny and there are unexpected turns; all of the characters are depicted as rather vain and foolish. The theme, though not treated as seriously as in the first play, is progress and tradition. This was the first play of the second volume.

Kongi's Harvest [1964] 83 pages

This somewhat dark satirical play was first performed at a celebration in Nigeria, and has a celebration as its subject. The situation concerns the Harvest or New Yam Festival in a country called Isma (there are various plays on words, and references to -isms) ruled by a dictator named Kongi. Kongi succeeded to a traditional king or Oba named Danlola, who is now held in detention. The plot revolves around Kongi's attempt to get Danlola to present him with the ritual first yam, thus recognizing his authority over the harvest and legitimizing his regime to the religious among his subjects. (I would recommend that persons not familiar with Nigerian culture read Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart, written a few years earlier, first, as it also deals with the New Yam Festival and makes the situation clearer.)

The Trials of Brother Jero [1960] 29 pages

The shortest play in the collection; like the previous play it alternates between two nearby locations and could probably be performed with two sets on the same stage as with many of Shakespeare's plays. Another farcical comedy, it concerns a professional "prophet", Brother Jero, who is openly hypocritical in his asides to the audience, his assistant, and a woman to whom the prophet owes money. Soyinka later added two other plays about Brother Jero to form a trilogy.

Jero's Metamorphosis [1973] 41 pages

A sequel to his comedy The Trials of Brother Jero, but even funnier; a satire on the relations of church and state.

Madmen and Specialists [1970] 62 pages

One of the most interesting of his plays I have read, a symbolic political satire. It begins with a discussion among four mendicants, survivors of the civil war. They are working in some mysterious way for "the Specialist". Gradually we learn more about what is happening; this is another play I can't really summarize without spoilers.

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Collected Plays 2 {The Lion and the Jewel; Kongi's Harvest; The Trials of Brother Jero; Jero's Metamorphosis; Madmen and Specialists} PDF download

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