Every Actor is a Product of the Society– Udochukwu

Isaac Israel Udochukwu

Isaac Israel Udochukwu is a thespian in his early thirties. He is from a family of seven children- the sixth boy and the only girl of the family is the seventh. He had been raised by his widowed mother in the last two decades. His academic journey started at Abadina Primary School II; University of Ibadan; Sango High School, now Humani Alaga High School. After various attempts to gain admission into the university, he enrolled for the Diploma in Theatre Arts in the University of Ibadan and today, he has a Masters Degree from the same department. Excerpts

PDC: It is not unlikely that the course you choose while filling your JAMB form to be Theatre Arts, how did you get into Theatre Arts? 
IU: Really, I passed my JAMB in one attempt but couldn’t gain admission because I couldn’t make the cut off mark for the department of my choice as at then. So I put in for a diploma in Theatre Arts through the Distance Learning program in UI, 2006 and that’s how I got into Theatre Arts and there has not been a dull moment till date.

PDC: What are the best plays that you enjoyed being a part of the production as a student?
IU:
They are quite much. Some of the productions which I had been a part of include God’s At The Harvest by Nelson Fashina; No More Oil Boom by Tunde Fatunde, Macbhutu which was jointly written by some to notch dramatist; Royal Hunt of the Sun by Peter Shaffer. Plays by Femi Osofisan that I have acted include Tegonni An African Antigone; Birthdays Are Not For Dying Esu and the Vagabond Minstrels; Making Children is Fun. Others are Kongi’s Harvest and Opera Wonyosi by Wole Soyinka; Obaseki by Don Pedro Agbonifo Obaseki & Iyase by Ahmed Yerima amongst several others. The list is not exhaustive.

PDC: How did you transit from stage to screen?
IU:
Well there is no major transit. I still do both till date. Whichever time affords me.

PDC: Having worked with a lot of stars in the movie industry, how do stars switch between being themselves and keeping up with the demands of the society?
IU:
Every performer is a product of the society. However, there are variant lifestyles based on individual dispositions. Some are calm on and off set while some are overtly flamboyant in reality and on set. They have families to attend to, friends to hang out with, responsibilities to manage etc. Yet when duty calls, they must obey. A lot of times people tend to forget that the actor is just mirroring the society and that does not necessarily represent his or her reality outside the set. Let’s say those with better understanding do just fine on both sides.

PDC: Stage name do stick to actors, which of your stage performances earned you the name of the character afterwards?
IU:
Of particular note are these characters- Obaseki and Iyase. They are both eponymous characters and I played the lead roles.

Udochukwu in a costume ready to hit the stage

PDC: Having played many roles as a round character, which of the roles challenged you most?
IU:
I’ll pick Peter Shaffer’s Royal Hunt of the Sun. I played the role of a narrator. The lines were overwhelming and interpretation was key to the understanding of the play, cutting through countries such as Spain, England, Peru and India.

PDC: As an actor who has been on both stage and on the screen, which do you prefer most?
IU:
By preference, it would be screen because for me it’s much more easier. The bulk of job in screen production is technical but if it’s about artistic fulfillment productivity par excellence, I will give it to stage. You can’t afford to make mistakes or make obvious your mistakes once you go live on stage.

PDC: As someone who have seen writings from the eminent Professor and gifted writers, which of these two category of writers add techniques that give directors nightmares?
IU:
The Nobel laureate himself-Wole Soyinka.

PDC: Short films and not feature films have become a fad in this generation, what’s your thoughts about this evolution?
IU:
It’s called the jet age. There’s more demand on spectacles and you can’t sustain that for too long in feature films. It’s a generation that wants a mix or little of anything and everything. So it’s all giving your audience all you can in lesser timing else he tunes to something more interesting. You can take a cue from the amount of television stations seeking for contents and viewing fidelity.

PDC: Internet has created various sensations recently through one minute video and other video apps, what is the impact of these on the movie industry?
IU:
The movie industry will remain as long as there are people who may not be able to afford smart phones. That’s my take.

 PDC: Animated videos too have been used to tell stories lately, is this a threat to movies made via big budgets?

IU:  No. I don’t think so. Art is dynamic so also is thirst for contents. It will eventually evolve to become a genre of movie that will also expand the frontiers of knowledge

PDC: Subtitling is an issue yet to be demystified by Nigerian movie producers; the context is now usually captured by the subtitle, what are the necessary steps to take in resolving this challenge so that Nigerian movies can be watched and understood by international audiences?
IU:
This is where the services of linguistic gurus are needed. It’s not just enough to be able to speak or write a language, it also have to with dexterity in writing and interpretation of ideas through the appropriate use of syntax, semantics and semiotics.

PDC: The Nigerian tourism potentials have not been fully explored by the movie industry and this is a major way of showcasing our country to the world, what do you have to say to movie producers about this?

IU: I believe there’s a national policy on arts, culture and tourism in Nigeria. If it’s properly implemented and there’s a modus operandi in place for both sector, then we don’t have a problem.

PDC: How do you unwind?

IU: I take a cold bottle of drink of my choice for that moment or listen to music or take a stroll.

PDC: If you were not an actor, what will you be doing? 

IU: I’ll be dead. Lol.😁😁😂😆. Acting is life.

PDC: What do you want to be remembered for?

IU: I want people to remember me as a man full of determination to the best in whatever I do. Loving, caring, always putting others needs first. I love happy people, happy faces, happy moments and happy places. 😃

PDC: What are your advice for upcoming actors?

IU: Read, travel, workout and practice. Repeat…

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