Dream Big with a Romantic Comedy straight out of Nollywood!
TRENTON, MI–It’s the 1990’s and Ayamma is an aspiring actress living a mundane life in Nigeria. She manages her family’s travel agency with her sister Dede, an adamant obsessive for the stars of Nollywood. An open casting call inspires Ayamma to take her chance at making it big in Nollywood – the booming Nigerian Film Industry. She has the opportunity, the acting chops, and the tenacity to snag the role. The only thing standing in her way? Nationally beloved actress Fayola who is rumored to already be cast in the role.
While things don’t go quite as Ayamma planned, it turns out her audition was for more than just a part in the film. Join Ayamma on her journey into acting, romance, and drama in Jocelyn Bioh’s Nollywood Dreams, running January 13 – February 12 at Open Book Theatre Company in Trenton.
“This is a show about finding your happiness and living truthfully in it,” says Nate John Mark, who plays the role of the hottest Nollywood actor, Wale. “If I could put the feeling of this show into a word it would be Joy.”
Hollywood is a huge part of American culture, even reaching beyond our borders to other countries. Bollywood is known for their action packed stories and musical numbers. But did you know the West African film industry known as Nollywood (because most of the films are made in Nigeria) is the second largest film industry in the world in terms of number of films produced every year?
“Nollywood films are a staple for all of us first-generation kids in America,” says playwright Bioh, whose parents immigrated to New York City from Ghana in 1968. “They are like our Golden Girls or Friends. These are the movies that were always on in the background when I was growing up: at the hairstylist, at our Aunty’s house, or when we went to Ghana on summer vacation.”
The play also draws on familiar American TV shows. Ashley M. Lyle, who plays Ayamma, says “it’s a Black story told without racial trauma or pain. With the influences of Family Matters, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Living Single, and many more iconic 90’s Black sitcoms, it tells a story about dreams, love, heartache, & support.” “Anyone who liked 90’s sitcoms will connect with this play” agrees Director K Edmond. “We all have similar hopes and dreams no matter where we are from. The will of the human spirit presses on and every now and then happiness is waiting on the other side.”
“What excites me most is that this is a period piece. And not just any period. It’s the 90s, which in my opinion is the greatest time in history,” says Krystle Dellihue, who plays Dede. “The fashion, movies and music are all iconic from that time period. The costumes (by Cheryl Zemke) and set design (by Drew Hall) reflect the bright and colorful world of Nigeria in the 90’s, with strong influences from American Hip Hop culture.
Nollywood Dreams is directed by K Edmonds and features the acting talents of Ashley M. Lyle, Nate John Mark, Krystle Dellihue, LaLa Harrison, Sealoyd Jones III, and Bre Jackson. The design team includes Drew Hall (Set), Cheryl Zemke (Costumes), Harley Miah (Lights), and Krista Schafer (props). The production is Stage Managed by Kiah Manthei.
Playwright Jocelyn Bioh is an actor and a playwright, most well known for her play, School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play. Now making its Michigan Premiere, Nollywood Dreams made the 2015 Kilroys’ List (recognizing excellent new plays by women, trans, and non-binary playwrights) and was slated to make its world premiere in March of 2020 off Broadway at MCC Theatre. It finally got its day on stage in November of 2021.
Open Book Theatre Company is a nonprofit arts organization in Trenton, Michigan that promotes connection through theatrical storytelling. Now in their 9th season, the established theatre works with local artists to bring the Downriver community professional theatre right in their backyard. Nestled right off of Fort St., and across from a seasonal Dairy Queen, Open Book is conveniently located to bring anyone the thrill of live theatre and human connection.
Individual tickets are only $30 for general admission, $25 for seniors, and $15 for students. Opening Night includes an after glow and all tickets are $35. Tickets can be purchased online at openbooktc.com or through the box office. More information can be found online or by calling 734 288-7753. Open Book is a very intimate space, and therefore requires the audience and staff to mask as a COVID safety precaution.