British Council – Helping Playwrights in Nigeria Craft their Stories

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The Nigerian movie industry is the world’s second-largest movie industry by volume, right behind India’s Bollywood. British Council of Nigeria has been supporting the growth of the Nollywood in many ways. One of such ways is by organising and supporting workshops, festivals and competitions for aspiring movie creators. As part of their 75th anniversary in Nigeria, they are celebrating 75 of their programme participants in the areas of their work. One of such participants is Bode Asiyanbi.

Thanks to you playwright Bode Asiyanbi, whose emerging writing talent has strong roots in British Council support via the Lagos Theatre Festival and his winning of the BBC/British Council Playwriting competition (International).


Bode Asiyanbi ended 2018 on a high after taking part in the 2017 British Council Lagos Theatre Festival. It was announced that he had won the Georgi Markov prize for the most promising script, in the BBC International Playwriting Competition. The prize is in honour of BBC World Service journalist and writer Georgi Markov who championed freedom of creative expression.

Bode’s interest in writing grew after he was selected as one of the winners in the now-defunct BBC African Performance radio drama series, a few years ago. He heard the news from the BBC’s Jenny Horrocks and told her that winning the Georgi Markov prize was “quite a big deal”.

The British Council Lagos Theatre Festival is a performing arts festival that brings together theatre professionals, enthusiasts and provides a platform to develop audiences for a theatre production. Bode took part in it every year from 2013 to 2017.

“The Lagos Theatre Festival revitalized the comatose theatre industry in Nigeria and gave budding writers with interest in theatre the platform to develop their craft and also stage their plays,” he says.

He was no exception. “The stage adaptation of my BBC winning play ‘Beguiled’ had its world premiere at the festival and memorable was winning festival writing prizes in 2014, 2016 and 2017. This set me on the path I’m on today as a playwright,” he says.

I had been writing plays for a while before 2013 but there was no opportunity to bring the plays to life on stage.

Born in Oshogbo, Western Nigeria, Bode Asiyanbi was educated at Obafemi Awolowo University and Lancaster University.

He is a two-time winner of the BBC African Performance Playwriting Prize (2005 and 2011) and the British Council LTF Playwriting Prize (2016 and 2017). His short stories have appeared in Munyori Literary Journal, Kalahari Review, Lawino, Per Contra and Wasafiri.

His stage plays include Shattered, Room 69, The Wait, and One Chance! He describes himself as “a restless troubadour from a long line of village weavers and palace bards; spinning coloured yarns of errant stories and seeking lost songs to sing out from rooftops”.

He adds: “The festival gave me that invaluable opportunity and set me on the path I’m on today as a playwright with the platform, mentorship, training and professional contacts it afforded me. On the back of this, I got a prestigious playwriting fellowship in France with Camargo Foundation.”

He concludes: “British Council LTF set me on this path in 2013 and I’ve never looked back. Thanks, British Council Nigeria!”

British Council is inviting past programme participants to celebrate its 75th anniversary with them by submitting stories of their experience and the impact it has had. Visit  for more information about how to participate in the 75 Stories campaign or follow #BritishCouncilNigeriaAt75 #ThanksToYou #75Stories on social media.

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