by Wole Soyinka
THE TRIALS OF BROTHER JERO. As Michael Smith describes: "Brother Jero is a self-styled 'prophet,' an evangelical con man who ministers to the gullible and struts with self-importance over their dependence on him. The play follows him through a typical day: He acts as kind of tourist guide, displaying himself to the audience, explaining, demonstrating how he manages to live by his wits. He is pursued and cursed by his aged mentor, whose territory he has taken over. He is besieged by a woman creditor who turns out to be the tyrannical wife of his chief disciple. He converts a pompous, painfully timid Member of Parliament with prophecies of a ministerial post. And all day he tries to resist the endless temptation of beautiful women, the play is delightfully picturesque and entertaining." (8 men, 6 women.) THE STRONG BREED. As outlined by Michael Smith: "The play refers to a folk tradition by which one person becomes the 'carrier' of community evil and symbolically purifies the village in an annual ritual. The hero is Eman, a stranger who has come to this particular village to act as teacher and share his education. 'Those who have much to give,' he says, 'must do so in total loneliness.' On the night of the purification ceremony he learns that Ifada, a helpless idiot boy whom he has befriended, has been selected as 'carrier' and victim; and he is driven by compassion to take Ifada's part in the ritual. The crisis brings back memories. We learn that Eman's father was a 'carrier' and that Eman has fled the family tradition of symbolic sacrifice. We also learn of Omae, the young Eman's betrothed, whom he left for many years to pursue his personal destiny and who died soon after his return.Now Eman accepts his past and discovers, 'I am very much my father's son'—one of 'the strong breed' who must take these responsibilities upon themselves—and at the end of the play is caught in a trap at the sacred trees and killed." (12 men, 5 women.)"