Film industry

‘Nollywood Dreams’ explores the Nigerian film industry in a new play at the Round House Theater

America has Hollywood and India has Bollywood, but Nigeria is making magic in Nollywood. The journey to Nigerian cinema stardom is…

WTOP’s Jason Fraley Hails ‘Nollywood Dreams’ at Round House Theater (Part 1)

America has Hollywood and India has Bollywood, but Nigeria is making magic in Nollywood.

Nigerian cinema’s journey to stardom is explored in “Dreams of Nollywood”, which is making its regional premiere at the Round House Theater in Bethesda, Maryland, through July 3.

“The story follows a young girl becoming an actress,” actress Renea Brown told OMCP. ” Ayamma and [her sister] Dede works in their family’s travel agency, Okafor Travels. … A famous director, Gbenga Ezie, is creating a film called “The Comfort Zone” and is opening auditions for the public, so Ayamma goes there.

The fictional film they shoot parallels the lives of the characters. Brown said it was about a man caught between two worlds: “Does he go to America, chase his dreams and fall in love with an American girl? Or does he return to Nigeria where the love of his life is still waiting for him?

Against this celluloid backdrop, Brown enjoys playing starry-eyed sister Dede — “the older sister by two years, and she’ll say it very clearly!” Brown said — who is immersed in pop culture and obsessed with a famous actor. .

Playwright Jocelyn Bioh once wrote the Helen Hayes Award winner “School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play,” which Round House Theater audiences will remember.

Brown said Bioh’s work “clearly opened a door for an African voice, an African body, an African spirit on stage,” Brown said. Bioh is also an actor, Brown said, and “you can tell in the script that she writes for the actor. She writes the things that you can build on.

She finds it refreshing to perform an African play that transcends stereotypes – a story about “joy, love and excitement”.

“It’s not about poverty, starvation, the things we’re taught all over Africa,” Brown said. “She gave me a gift that she probably doesn’t even know about — this is the first time I’ve done a professional show with an all-black cast, a black playwright, a black director. It’s huge for me.

Speaking of the director, Raymond O. Caldwell stages a visually dynamic set. “We’re on a revolution,” Brown said. “Sometimes you see a place; sometimes you see two places. Time passes at the same time in these two places. She added that the costumes “steal the show – beautiful headwear, 90s Nigerian influences [with] a touch of Hollywood and African prints with blazers.

Brown grew up in Lexington, Kentucky, “where we have the Wildcats basketball, tobacco and bourbon.” She moved to DC to work for the Shakespeare Theater Company and went to graduate school at the Academy of Classical Acting. She made her Round House debut after “The Tempest” at the Shakespeare Theater Company, “Change Agent” at Arena Stage and “Love Factually” at the Kennedy Center.

“I love classic work,” Brown said, “but with ‘Nollywood Dreams,’ I think it’s okay to dip my toe into contemporary work!”

WTOP’s Jason Fraley Hails ‘Nollywood Dreams’ at Round House Theater (Part 2)

Listen to our full conversation here.