Elufowoju jr Ensemble was set up in 2015 by Femi Elufowoju jr and Thomas Kell. It has a mission objective to create for the international stage, exceptional world class theatre with imaginative flair inspired by the continent of Africa.
The genesis behind the Elufowoju jr Ensemble was discovering in the spring of 2011, the novel ‘The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives’ written by Lola Shoneyin. Within two years the book and story were commissioned, adapted, cast, produced and directed for one of the most feted International Art and Books festival in Africa.
In 2014 Elufowoju jr was invited back to Lagos to direct ‘Finding Home’, Nigeria’s first spoken word theatre piece produced by Efe Paul Azino and Lydia Idakula Shobogun. The stage production featuring indominable Nigeria based performance poets propelled the director to consider a long-term ambition of developing a project funded ensemble with a specific performance philosophy.
In December of 2015 Elufowoju jr Ensemble was launched as a company at the Theatre Royal Stratford East with a British workshop production of Rotimi Babatunde and Oyebade Dosunmu’s music theatre adaptation of Lola Shoneyin’s ‘The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives’ as premiered in Abeokuta two years previously. The launch featuring an all UK cast was developed over three weeks, funded by a Kickstarter Crowdfunding Campaign, a generous Arts Council England Grant for the Arts with in-kind support from the host venue. For more than two decades Theatre Royal Stratford East has maintained a rich collaborative history with Elufowoju jr having trained him as a director under Philip Hedley and the Regional Theatre Young Directors Scheme and subsequently in 1997 being at the forefront of the foundation of Tiata Fahodzi, Elufowoju jr’s first company.
The Ensemble’s other creative collaborations include,
2016 a public rehearsed reading of Oladipo Agboluaje’s Fractures a three-way partnership between Elufowoju jr Ensemble, Soho Theatre and nitroBEAT.
In the same year, associate-producing with Bolanle Austen Peters’ leading Nigerian theatre company Terra Kulture on her spectacular African musicals Wakaa and Saro at London’s Shaw Theatre (August 2016, August 2017 respectively).
2017 Jumoke Fashola’s Dirty Little Secrets for Bush Theatre and St James’ Theatre, London.
In 2018, a full-scale theatre production of The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives was remounted in London’s East End. Across two months, the co-production at Arcola Theatre became the highest box office grossing show in its history, playing to packed audiences in the venue’s main house. The production attracted five Off West End Theatre 2019 nominations including winning Best Director award, for Femi Elufowoju jr. The co-production was funded by a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign and an Arts Council England Grant for the Arts.
In 2019 The Secret Lives of Babi Segi’s Wives in a new dramatization was reproduced and adapted by Elufowoju jr for BBC Radio Drama. It was subsequently broadcast on BBC Radio 3 in November of the same year.
54.60 Africa is the company’s next artistic venture. A travel odyssey of all fifty-four countries in the continent before October 2022. The project commenced in 2015 and to date has seen Elufowoju jr visit forty-one projected nations. The activity culminates in a full-scale theatre production, telling the story of Africa and its people in a radical new form or a modern day all-inclusive British audience. This ensemble production is in pursuit of continuing the global growth of theatre excellence from an African perspective seen in the UK in recent years.