Monday, 22 August 2011

INTERVIEW: Teju Chosen


Teju Chosen

The Kingdom, trying to do my best, to walk the narrow road when satan puts me to the test.

London, England ... Hackney Hospital in fact (now closed down).

Goodmayes, Essex

Performance Debut:
The Word, Brixton. I was so nervous, I was there reading my poem by candlelight and the paper was shaking in my hands. The feedback was great and that encouraged me to continue.

Poetry Calendar for the Millenium, play co-written for Shared Experience Theatre "We Can Dream in Colour", play commissioned by ICAN (International Chartered Accountants of Nigeria) "Oko Mi Da?", Devised play with National Youth Theatre about the French Revolution "Off With Your Head". Won a scholarship to do a Masters in Screen at Stage Writing at the London School of Film, Media and Performance (currently in first year).


Describe Teju Chosen in 5 words:
Spiritual, Dynamic, Funny, Loving, Entertaining!

What’s your favourite guilty pleasure?
Cakes and biscuits and lots of, but I am so cutting down. I am so cutting down!

If you were a fruit what fruit would you be and why?
A soft hearted banana.

What came first, the chicken or the egg?
Both, really. Is that right? If the egg came first, then who laid it. If the chicken came first, then how? Good question.

Favourite word?
Wisdom. Because wisdom is the principle thing. In the Bible it says, "... my people perish because of lack of knowledge". Hosea 4:6

Least Favourite word?
Can't. My mother never allowed me to use this word in the house. "Don't say
can't, say I shall try", she would exclaim.

Sound or noise that you love?
The ocean. The soothing sounds of the water hitting the rocks.

Sound or noise that you hate?
Rain on my wood door and double glazed windows.

If you weren’t doing the profession that you are, what would you be doing?
Oh dear, this is a tough one, can you come back to this? Er well I guess I'd be a Philanthropist.

Since it’s supposed to be “summer”, what’s your favourite thing to do in the park?
Praying whilst on the swings, in the morning.

ONiT! Is very excited about your forthcoming one woman show, Choices & Voices. What can the crowd expect?
AN EFFERVECENT ECLECTIC MIX ... Performance Poetry at its very best, Jazz music that will make you close your eyes and imagine you were somewhere else, a journey into my state of mind, familiar characters that will make you laugh at them, but maybe later with them, contrast, the breaking down of the fourth theatrical wall, edutainment and the flipping of the script. In a nutshell, something very different.

As a Poet, how did you make the transition into writing and performing a one-woman show that also features comedy and drama?
It's always been in me. Started off as an Actress and lack of work sometimes led in me and a few others along the road of creating our own stuff and performing them at Fringe places. This was way, way back though. Now I have revived my playwrighting spirit and am currently doing a Masters. I think I mentioned this earlier.

We know that you’ve performed internationally, which non UK performances have you enjoyed the most and why?
A Show that I put on with a few other Londoner's in a South African joint called "Jungle Connection". It featured London and South African Poets, Drummers and Singers and was a great cultural exchange. I loved the clicking that that was incorporated into many of the songs and poems ... was awesome experience and the air of South Africa just screams art.

Do you have any pre-performance rituals?
Not really, just breathing deeply and being alone.

Who and/or what are your greatest influences?
God, The Bible, my parents, life, Mayo Angelou, Nikki Giovani and Gill Scott Heron.

Is there an artist or performance that you’ve recently seen that blew you away?
Yes, LyricalFlo. Some real good stuff. Love the singing combined with the poetry. These two are real divas. Also Dominic Coates - saw his video online, great stuff. He's doing something really different and saying what needs to be said.

Let’s pretend I’ve just given you £6,000 for you spend on a dream holiday. Where would you go and how would you spend it all?
Hmmm, been to most places already, done the cruise thing, done Disneyland. I think it would be somewhere in Africa. I have been to South Africa a couple of times, so maybe Jo'burg. Haven't been back home to Nigeria in a while so probably there. I'd buy a standard class ticket and stay with friends/family. I'd spend time visiting orphanages and seeing how I could help and what I could put money towards. I would like to also sow seeds in to the lives of some aspiring young people who would otherwise not get the opportunity to fulfuil their dreams. I would like to pay for school fees etc.

What’s been your best or worst performance experience so far?
Er, can't remember but I'll have a real long think ... wait a minute ... Well not had a bad performance, but a bad workshop situation in a Prison. I was getting the inmates ready for ... oh dear, forget that, I've just remered a bad performance ... oh dear, can't mention that one, not fair on the other person involved. Okay then, back to the prison workshop. I was trying to get the guys to do some positive stuff for an upcoming performance and they weren't listening. Just weren't having it. They wanted to do their slack raps and mceeing. One even said to me, "You don't like mi s*!& do you?". With the group I had the month before the writing was so inspiring and thought inducing ...

Describe your performance style.
Very me, I just do me. Effervescent, eclectic, bubbly, dynamic. I am different when I do different poems. Sometimes very vocal and in your face, sometimes sultry.

Lastly, where can we find you outside of the stage?

And just keep looking. Also look out for my book this Autumn, Prolific Perspirations from a Poet's Pen. I will also be working on my sitcom and putting a preview on YouTube. It's called, No Pay, No Paper and it's set in a Nigerian Law Firm.

Catch Teju Chosen's one woman play, Choices & Voices, as part of the Camden Fringe Festival, on Tuesday 23rd August 2011

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