Theatre Arts Project Topics

Role Interpretation Techniques and the Nigerian Actor: Peter Fatomilola in Focus

Role Interpretation Techniques and the Nigerian Actor Peter Fatomilola in Focus

Role Interpretation Techniques and the Nigerian Actor: Peter Fatomilola in Focus

Chapter One

Aim and Objectives of the Study

This researcher aims at improving the capacity of the Nigerian actor by documenting the acting technique and approach of a role model, and successful Nigerian veteran Actor. The objectives of the study shall include, but not be limited to, the following:

  • To review the history and development of acting.
  • To survey the Nigerian acting profession on stage and screen.
  • To analyze the acting techniques and approaches for role interpretation.





“Acting is great only if its produces a great effect upon a given audience” says Whiting (185). However, mostmembers of the audience perceive acting to be a very easy task, and that explains why many untrained, but ambitious individuals dabble into the art of acting without understanding the dynamics, approaches and techniques of acting. This chapter shall review the history and development of acting, the various techniques and the different the media of Acting, alongside a brief on the emergence of the Nigerian video film industry.

 History and Development of Acting

Considering that the origin of western theatre is traceable to ancient Greek, the development of acting as an art can be traceable to Greek. No one really knows how it began, but there are many theories about it. The most widely followed today is based upon the assumption that theatre evolved from ritual (Pickering, 165). Thus, the history and development of acting cannot be separated from the origin of drama itself.

According to Pickering “acting in the western world began in Greece in the sixth century B.C. There had been earlier Acting, certainly for dance, song, ritual and mimesis had existed in most early and primitive societies including the Greek” (198). He noted that nevertheless, acting and thus theatre really began when Thespis the first actor stepped forward to add impersonation to the musical narration and dance of the dithyramb (199). He adduces that in that early times there was still only a chorus, a chorus leader, and one person, usually the poet wearing mask to impersonate several characters (199).

The most persistent of the theories declares that, theatre developed from myth and ritual (lawal, 3).

“The primary physical attribute of the Greek actor Was voice. Actors were judged on the quality of the Voice, its resonance and beauty of tone ability to capture the mood of the characterization (Pickering, 200)”

When theatre historians speak of the ‘Greek theatre’ they are speaking specifically of the theatre of just one locale, Athens and of just one century (whiting, 210). During this period there are also lots of playwright.

Among the contributors of this art form were four of the most brilliant playwrights of all time: Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides and Aristophanes. Aeschylus (525-456 BC) first of the great playwrights, he wrote of the gods (Cohen 16). Whiting said Aeschylus was the first to the use two actors on stage at the same time. Sophocles (C-497 C-405 BC) wrote of heroes, and he was the first to introduce the third actor on stage. The last of the Greek tragic writers was Euripides (C 485 – 406 BC) wrote of men (19).

Unlike the Greek society, actors in Rome were at the bottom of the social ladder. In fact theatre managers such as Ambivousturpio used slaves as actor in virtually all his production. The researcher noted during the cause of findings that Roman citizen are not allowed to act and anyone who defied the law would lose his civil rights. The romans had no restriction on women, and in fact seemed to particularly fancy female dancers some of whom become mistresses of the senators and generals, or ultimately earned enough money to buy their freedom. Whiting says that the primary difference between the Greek and Roman actors were the elevated social and religious status of Greek actors in contrast to the Roman actors, who were mostly slaves, trained by managers of acting troupe without legal or religious rights (201). In this period the level of performance was low broad farce being the most popular dramatis form. The Greek used little or no scenery in their productions, the Roman developed elaborate machinery to create stage effects (Wikipedia). History world have it that during the centuries of up heal in Europe, after the collapse of the Roman Empire, theatre plays no part in life. But with the approach of the first millennium, dramatic effects in the Easter liturgy to enliven the theme of resurrection (3). The history world later proceeded that  during the Easter morning service in Winchester three monks e act the arrival at the tomb of the three women, while another (as the angle in the story) sits beside the high alter( the holy sculpture). The angel, intoning in Latin, asks the women who they are seeking?Marlowe noted that the medieval drama had been an endeavor presented either by the clergy or members of the various trade guilds. The performers were not professional actors but ordinary citizen who acted only in their spare time.

At the end of medieval period, where there were still some guild Productions, a rivalry developed between the amateur actor and the new professional actor which stimulated interest in the art of acting. In the sixteenth century, the Elizabethan stage became almost wholly professional and public. Dexbot said English Renaissance drama or English Renaissance theatre, means the stage plays written and acted in the later 16th century and the first half of the 17th century, during the renaissance period in England. This period in English history saw a great growth in drama as an art form and public entertainment. Williams Shakespeare, widely thought of as the greatest writer in English literature, is the most famous of many important playwrights, poets and writers who worked in this era (Wikipedia).

According to whiting like English, France produced more than her share of great stars. To begin with there were Moliere himself, who rates along with Garrick and Roscius as one of the greatest comedians of all time, and who in his plays conducted a whitty crusade against the affectation and bombast of players in rival companies (190).

He further said the most famous of the early eighteenth-century French actresses was the beautiful Adrienne lecouuvreur (1692-1730). He said Adrienne acting followed the natural style of Baran and her tragic death (she was poisoned at the height of her fame) has inspired both poets and playwrights (191).  During this period the primary physical attribute of the Greek actor was voice. Actors were judge on the quality of the voice, its resonance and beauty of tone and its ability to capture the mood of the characterization” (whiting, 200).




Biography of Peter Fatomilola

Peter OladeleFatomilola was born January 16, 1946 at Ido-Osi, Ekiti State. His father was a traditional Priest and he was often allowed to observe his father when he hosts other priests in weekly meetings called “OseAwo”, an event that occasions a lot of singing, drumming, dancing and other priestly communion.

Meanwhile his mother was a devote Christian of the Apostolic church.

Fatomilola attended The Apostolic Primary School in 1962, The Apostolic Secondary Modern School in 1966 both in Ido-Osi. He started his acting career in the year 1967. He attended Ife City College in 1971 and ran a diploma programme at the ObafemiAwolowo University (OAU) in 1971. He has featured in so many films. He is happily married with children.

Fatomilola’s early exposure into acting dates back to his Primary school days. During end of the year activities

he would always perform in stage plays. While in secondary school, he won several awards in acting and script writing. It was during one of those competitions that late professor Ola Rotimi spotted him and employed him as actor in OriOlokun (OAU) 1967.

Fatomilola started his stage acting with the play ‘rere run’ where he played “lawuwo” the Labor leader and the

gods are not to blame where he played Alaka. Over the years he has acted in non-less than 100 stage plays, and 100 screen play. He has won numerous awards. He was the first Papa Ajasco in wale Adenuga’s production’s

Papa Ajasco. Because of his fantastic interpretation of ifa roles, which is traceable to his background. Presently he is the (head of traditional priests) in Ido-Osi.




The issue of poor-self documentation in the sense that actors don’t document their work again. They find it

difficult to give an account of the total films they have featured in. A good actor should be able to give a definite account of the films he/she has done. Peter Fatomilola was unable to tell the number of stage plays and even the number of screen plays he has acted in over the years. He was just guessing and even his guess was not certain and this gave the researcher a lot of problem because the researcher was unable to give a precise number of films he has featured in and was unable to make a straight statement about the number of films. Peter Fatomilola is unknowingly using Stanislavski’s system because all his acting styles and techniques are what Stanislavski’s techniques state. Going into the world of the character and putting yourself in the world of the character, forgetting the situation you are facing before going on set, forgetting your family and friends and concentrating on his acting.


The researcher recommends that Nigeria Actor should make effort in documenting the plays, styles, approaches and the techniques they display in films. So that it will be useful to upcoming Actors, they also should from time to time try to update their acting styles, and should not be limited to a style but develop new styles.

The researcher also recommends that the academic sector should try to make research about actors and document their work because so many good actors died with their styles, techniques, documenting e.t.c. meanwhile their works have been a good one in the Nigeria movie industry. Student should start documenting actors work so their works would be used as aids to improve acting in the Nigeria video film industry.

Based on the fact that some actors are born actors and some are made people that have experience should still learn from people that studied it. Peter Fatomilola had his own experience from his father and his colleagues during their “oseawo”, but was also trained by Ola Rotimi and Wole Soyinka, the 2 masters contributed to his success today. The knowledge from the two masters and the experience he got from his father made him what he is today. People in the industry should go to the academics and learn more from scholars while people in the academic. The researcher is recommending that the academia should try as much as possible to be documenting the acting styles and techniques of veteran actors so that their styles will not die with them but upcoming actors can learn from what they have done. Actors like YomiOgunmola, Funmi Martins etc die without their styles and approaches been documented.


In order to keep the profession of acting alive and in good shape. The Nigerian actor must be innovative and be ready to be a role model to upcoming artist. And also the issue of quality, Actor should improve the quality of their acting and also clear the doubt of people that Nigeria movie industry is rating 3rd in terms of quantity and not quality in the world.


  • Adedeji, J and Ekwuazi, H. Nigeria Theatre: Dynamics of a Movement. Ibadan: Caltop Publication (Nigeria) Ltd.1998..
  • Barclay, F.A. Trend in Nollywood: A Study of Selected Genres. Ibadan: Kraft Books Limited, 2014.
  • Barton, Robert. Acting onstage and off. Boston: Ward worth cengage learning, 2009.
  • Brocket, Oscar G. The Theatre An Introduction. 3rd Edition. Indiana University: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc.1974.
  • Brocket, O And Hiidy, F. History Of The Theatre . 10th Edition. United State of America: Pearson Education, Inc.2010.
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