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I am Ìyálóde of tì still: A Yoruba Duchess of Malfi

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This article examines Débò Olúwatûmínú's Ìyálóde of tì (An Original Adaptation of The Duchess of Malfi By John Webster), produced by Utopia Theatre in Leeds, Sheffield and Doncaster in autumn 2016. Olúwatûmínú's play takes the story of The Duchess of Malfi and transposes it to nineteenth-century Yorùbáland. This inevitably leads to major changes to names and situations, yet there are some even more striking similarities and continuities. The essay compares Ìyálóde of tì with Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart ([1958] 1996) and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun ([2006] 2014) to argue that the interest in twinning found in both these three texts and The Duchess of Malfi itself is played out in the relationship between adaptation and original: Ìyálóde of tì may take its inspiration from Webster, but it, like its heroine, is itself, and even if it knows that the precolonial Yorùbáland it shows us is trembling on the edge of extinction, it also shows us that the customs and stories of that land still have vibrancy and force. Ìyálóde of tì may be Kehinde to The Duchess of Malfi’s Taiwo, but it is a second-born with power, and it is Iya´lo´de of tì still.

Keywords: Achebe; Ngozi Adichie; colonialism; magic; trickster god; twins

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Sheffield Hallam University

Publication date: July 1, 2017

More about this publication?
  • Adaptation, or the conversion of oral, historical or fictional narratives into stage drama has been common practice for centuries. In our own time the processes of cross-generic transformation continue to be extremely important in theatre as well as in the film and other media industries. Adaptation and the related areas of translation and intertextuality continue to have a central place in our culture with a profound resonance across our civilisation.
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