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12 Interesting Facts About Biyi Bamidele

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Source: files.list.co.uk

 

Writing for me is a vocation. Writing is anything I will always do even if I wasn’t earning any money from it.

Biyi Bandele

BIYI 2

Early Life Biyi Bandele was born October 13, 1967 in Kafanchan, Kaduna State, Nigeria. When he was fourteen, he left his parents’ house to earn a living doing odd jobs while still attending school. At this time, he began working on his first novel. He moved to Lagos in 1985 and two years later was admitted to the University of Ile-Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife) to study Drama. Shortly after his graduation in 1989, he won first prize in the International Student Playscript Competition with his theatre piece Rain (an unpublished play); he also won the 1990 British Council Lagos Award for an unpublished collection of poems. He left for London shortly afterwards, and has lived there ever since. As a playwright, he has worked with the Royal Court Theatre and Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), as well as written radio drama and television screenplays. While working as the Arts Council Resident Dramatist with the Talawa Theatre Company at the Cochrane Theatre in London from 1993 to 1994, he launched his career in television by writing two screenplays: Not Even God is Wise Enough (1993) and Bad Boy Blues, a BBC production starring Clive Owen in 1995. He went on to become Writer-in-Residence at the Royal National Theatre Studio in 1995. His play Two Horsemen (1994) was selected as Best New Play at the 1994 London New Plays Festival; and Oroonoko (1999), an adaptation of Aphra Behn’s 17th century novel of the same name, was awarded an EMMA (Ethnic and Multicultural Media Award) in 2000. In 2001, he premiered Brixton Stories, the stage adaptation of his novel The Street (1999). Between 2000 and 2001, he was the Judith E. Wilson Fellow at Churchill College, University of Cambridge. He was also the Royal Literary Fund Resident Playwright at the Bush Theatre from 2002 to 2003. Biyi's novels include The Man Who Came in From the Back of Beyond (1991), The Street (1999) and Burma Boy (2007) which has been described as "a fine achievement"(The Independent).   [caption id="attachment_5575" align="aligncenter" width="680"]Source: indiewire.com Source: indiewire.com[/caption] DID YOU KNOW THAT… 1.      Biyi’s introduction to feature-film screenwriting is bringing the life of Afro-beat king, Fela Kuti, to the big screen with British film director, Steve McQueen since 2009. The screenplay is based on Michael Veal’s biography Fela: The Life and Times of an African Musical Icon (2000). 2.      While he made his feature-film directorial debut with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Orange Prize-winning novel, Half of a Yellow Sun (2006), to screenplay, and directed the feature film. 3.      In 1997, Biyi adapted Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart for the stage. 4.      Burma Boy (2007) his 4th novel is inspired by his father’s (Solomon ‘Tommy Sparkle’ Bamidele Thomas ) participation in the war; a member of the Signal Corps of the Nigeria Regiment of the Royal West African Frontier Forces in 1943. Burma Boy is dedicated to his memory. Burma Boy 5.      Burma Boy was published in the US in 2009 under a new title - The King’s Rifle. 6.      While shooting Half of a Yellow Sun, Biyi and several members of the crew and cast got typhoid – including Hollywood actress, Thandie Newton. 7.      At the age of 14, Biyi moved into a friend's house a few streets away from his parents’, and then he started to travel around Nigeria and got a job with a Lebanese guy who had a kind of gambling empire in the northern part of the country. 8     Biyi had already started working on his first novel, “The Man Who Came In from the Back of Beyond” before enrolling at the University of Ile-Ife. 9.      Biyi knew he was going to be a writer at the age of 7 years old, after his father took him to the local library in Kafanchan. 10.  After being rejected by every major publishing house in Nigeria, his first novel “The Man Who Came In From the Back of the Beyond” was finally published when he arrived London. 11.  Biyi once tried to adapt Chinua Achebe’s “Girls at War with a US-based Nigerian director, Andrew Dosunmu, but the project didn’t kick-off. 12.  Biyi has confessed to writing a lot at night, which takes him into the early hours of the morning. Biyi's recent project is directing the third series of MTV’s Shuga which was produced and filmed in Nigeria for the first time ever, with a predominantly Nigerian cast and crew. It premieres December 1st, 2013.   By Olusola Agbaje 

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