Eliel Otote… The many facets of a multi-talented performer | The Guardian Nigeria News

You’d probably have a hard time looking for Eliel Otote in a crowd of mostly fans of the popular sitcom The Johnsons, if you insist on looking for him by his first names. But mention you’re looking for ‘Deputy’, the name of the character he played for years on the show and your fingers will point to the music, drama, filmmaker, practitioner and a University of Nigeria alumnus , Nsukka, who has been active as a practitioner for the past four decades.

Also alumnus of the Royal Schools of Music in London, the Victor Uwaifo Academy of Music, Television and Theater in Benin and the Colorado Film School in Denver in the United States, Eliel is a pioneer actor, screenwriter and director. Nollywood. The star of critically acclaimed films such as Virgin Prostitute, Two Good Friends, Razor Blade, Missing Angel 1 and To Rise Again, Eliel has also directed and starred in a number of plays including Obaseki and Pedro Agbonifo’s Idia Obaseki, Lost Fingers by Meki Nzewi and The Lion and the Jewel by Wole Soyinka. A former official of the Directors Guild of Nigeria [DGN]and a member of the Screenwriters Guild of Nigeria, [SWGN]the cultural consultant and researcher who is also a member of the National Association of Nigerian Theater Arts Practitioners [NANTAP]is a published author.

Among his published books are No Baby Food (a play), Silent Talks: A Journey Into Self, which is a poetic prose text for speech training and, most recently, Getting into Nollywood Professionally: The Actor’s Companion. , which is a textbook on acting. and Communication Techniques and Practices and The Psychology of Performance, an audiobook on performance. The Edo-born total theater artist talks about his motivation to publish and also his career….

Motivation to publish
My motivation to publish a performance audiobook is informed by my experience as an actor, director, and acting coach over the past four decades, working with diverse performers. Beyond talent and flair, there is discipline, ethics, standards or professional etiquette.

Unfortunately, many practitioners lack these ingredients in their practice. So I felt that a discourse on such a relevant issue should be as important as the discourse on performance technique and the like. And I treated both areas equally in the audiobook.

And while I’ve set out to educate and inform in all of my books, entertainment isn’t compromised in the process. The response so far is promising, I dare say. The answers inspired me to write more and practice more. The books are available on Amazon. People can watch them there.

born artist
Indeed, I was born into a family of artists. My father was a popular pianist (agidigbo) and my mother was a kokoma dance troupe leader. So all of this clarified my childhood bias.

Honestly, I grew up meeting myself on stage. In 1975, I had won the prize for best actor (junior edition of the pre-FESTAC schools theater competition) for my school. I was also enlisted in my community drum set as a drummer and backup vocalist. All these childhood experiences informed my decision to study all disciplines related to art such as theater, music and cinema.

Growing up and choosing a career
My childhood was a blessing in all its ramifications. I not only grew up in a family that valued the arts, I was also privileged to have grown up in a time when core values ​​were the popular trend in a serene village in the ancient Kingdom of Benign. And that definitely has an impact on my art and my attitude towards it.

In the 80s I had joined Sir Victor Uwaifo’s Junior Orchestra Band, opening shows for the legendary musician himself. And at the same time, I was the lead guitarist of the Black Boys Band, which became the resident band of NTA Benin Music Panorama.

And fifteen years later, I had formed my own band The Mistrels, playing at the monthly Ojez Elders Forum in Lagos, courtesy of Jahman Anikulapo and Benson Idonije. You see… it was fun growing up with your passion.

The journey here

The trip was very impressive and rewarding. Yes, like all pioneers, it has not been too rewarding in monetary terms, until the advent of Nollywood, but has always been a fulfilling passion. Despite everything, it has been my source of income ever since! Yes, I have not earned any income outside of the arts. Believe me.

My pain is that the industry is stunted. There is no significant effort from government and practitioners to develop the industry. No actual structure yet. The guild system is still not strong enough as desired. But there is hope. And as an optimist, I’m happy with how far we’ve come and how far we’ve come as an industry, even if the pace may be too slow. I know we’ll get there in no time. Factors that encourage this arise: cinemas, online streaming platforms, capacity building enablement, etc.

Apart from acting and publishing
When I’m not on set at The Johnsons or any other set, and when I’m not writing, I honor invitations to teach and mentor newcomers.

On several occasions, I have also contributed immensely to arts students as a guest instructor and resource person in many academic and professional institutions both at home and abroad. Thus, I combine performance art with editing, training and consulting.

Career ambition
This may seem unambitious. My professional ambition is to document all my experiences of my artistic stay in books, films, music for the benefit of those who care. The other is to continue to be the best at what I do.

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