Gbolahan Obisesan

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Gbolahan Obisesan
Alma materLondon Guildhall University
Notable work
Mad about the boy

Gbolahan Obisesan is a British Nigerian writer and director. He is the Artistic Director at Brixton House theatre. He has served as a Genesis Fellow and Associate Director at the Young Vic.

Early life[edit]

Obisesan was born in Nigeria and moved to the UK when he was 9 years old.[1][2] He grew up in Bermondsey and New Cross.[2] He attended Southwark College, where he earned a BTech in Communication in 2000. He completed his Bachelor's degree at London Guildhall University and was involved with the National Youth Theatre.[3]


Obisesan has served as a writer, actor and director.[4] He won the Jerwood Directors Award from the Young Vic for Sus in 2010.[4] In 2011 Obisesan's play Mad About the Boy won the Fringe First for best play.[5] It was published by Nick Hern Books.[6] He directed four plays for epic 66 books at the Bush Theatre.[7] It went on to tour the Unicorn Theatre, Royal Court Theatre and Bush Theatre.[5] He was the only British writer for Rufus Norris's Feast at the Royal Court Theatre in 2013.[8] Obisesan adapted Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman for the Bristol Old Vic in 2013.[9] The production was taken to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, where it was described as "theatre made by young people, about young people, for everybody".[9] He wrote and directed How Nigeria Became: A Story, and A Spear That Didn't Work, which ran at the Unicorn Theatre in 2014.[10] The play commemorated the centenary of Nigeria and was nominated as one of the Best Productions for Young People in the OffWestEnd Theatre Awards.[10][11] He was made the Young Vic Genesis Fellow in 2015.[12][13]

In 2016 Obisesan directed Charlene James's Cuttin', which premiered at the Young Vic before touring to Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Royal Court Theatre, Crucible Theatre and London's Yard Theatre.[14][15] In 2017 it was nominated for a Laurence Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Affiliate Theatre.[16] His latest production, The Fishermen is an adaption of the novel by Chigozie Obioma.[17] It debuted at HOME theatre in Manchester, UK, in 2018.[18]

Obisesan was made artistic director at the Brixton House (formerly Ovalhouse) theatre in 2020.[19][20][21] In the wake of the George Floyd murder and the associated protests, Obisesan called for British theatre to become more inclusive.[22] At the time, less than 5% of London theatre employees were black and minority ethnic, whilst the population of London are 40%.[22] In an interview with The Guardian, Obisesan said, “perpetuating whiteness across institutions and organisations can no longer be the norm,”.[23]

Directing and writing[edit]


  1. ^ "Obisesan; Gbolahan | BPA". Retrieved 2018-08-11.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Gbolahan Obisesan: 'You have to give the story to the people'". the Guardian. 2019-09-25. Retrieved 2021-01-05.
  3. ^ "Interview with Open Door founder David Mumeni | There's a place in this industry for everyone | National Youth Theatre". Retrieved 2018-08-11.
  4. ^ a b "Gbolahan Obisesan - Royal Court". Royal Court. Retrieved 2018-08-11.
  5. ^ a b c Obisesan, Gbolahan (2012). Mad About The Boy. Mad About the Boy. doi:10.5040/9781784602932.00000002. ISBN 9781784602932.
  6. ^ Oladipo., Obisesan (2010). Living without AIDS. AuthorHouse. ISBN 9781452006536. OCLC 610166174.
  7. ^ Able, Sane and. "Gbolahan Obisesan - The Agency". The Agency. Retrieved 2018-08-11.
  8. ^ "Feast (Young Vic) - Royal Court". Royal Court. Retrieved 2018-08-11.
  9. ^ a b c "Pigeon English". Twisted Theatre. Retrieved 2018-08-11.
  10. ^ a b c "How Nigeria Became: A story, and a spear that didn't work - Unicorn Theatre". Retrieved 2018-08-11.
  11. ^ "Interview: Gbolahan Obisesan, Director, 'We Are Proud...'". Whats On Africa. 2014-02-24. Retrieved 2018-08-11.
  12. ^ "Nick Hern Books | About Gbolahan Obisesan". Nick Hern Books. Retrieved 2018-08-11.
  13. ^ "Young Vic appoints director Gbolahan Obisesan as new fellow | News | The Stage". The Stage. 2015-07-01. Retrieved 2018-08-11.
  14. ^ "CUTTIN' IT". Retrieved 2018-08-11.
  15. ^ "Cuttin' It directed by Young Vic Genesis Fellow Gbolahan Obisesan". Retrieved 2018-08-11.
  16. ^ "Here - The Royal Court Theatre". Retrieved 2018-08-11.
  17. ^ "The Fishermen - HOME". HOME. Retrieved 2018-08-11.
  18. ^ a b "Production details". Retrieved 2018-08-11.
  19. ^ Urban, Mike (2020-03-05). "Ovalhouse Theatre announce name change to Brixton House, and appoint new artistic director, Gbolahan Obisesan". Brixton Buzz. Retrieved 2021-01-05.
  20. ^ "Congratulations to Gbolahan Obisesan, new Artistic Director of Brixton House, formerly Ovalhouse". Alfred Fagon Award. 2020-03-06. Retrieved 2021-01-05.
  21. ^ "Interview: Ovalhouse Theatre's artistic director Gbolahan Obisesan on Brixton's 'startling stories' | SWLondoner". South West Londoner. 2020-03-29. Retrieved 2021-01-05.
  22. ^ a b Contributor (2020-07-02). "Brixton House director joins call for anti-racist theatres". Brixton Blog. Retrieved 2021-01-05.
  23. ^ a b "Gbolahan Obisesan: give BAME talent trust and theatre will thrive". the Guardian. 2020-06-09. Retrieved 2021-01-05.
  24. ^ "SS Mendi: Dancing the Death Drill review – tragic history stunningly sung". the Guardian. 2018-07-06. Retrieved 2021-01-05.
  25. ^ newperspectivesTV (2018-08-02), The Fishermen Trailer Edinburgh (2018), retrieved 2018-08-11
  26. ^ Gardner, Lyn (2016-05-31). "Cuttin' It review – streetwise drama evolves into fierce FGM statement". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-08-11.
  27. ^ "Cuttin' It". Young Vic website. Retrieved 2018-08-11.
  28. ^ a b "Zaida and Aadam". Retrieved 2018-08-11.
  29. ^ Dickson, Andrew (2015-01-27). "Walking the Tightrope review – playlets that probe politics and art". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-08-11.
  30. ^ a b office, GNM press (2014-11-17). "Guardian and Royal Court announce Off the Page - a unique series of 'microplays' uniting journalism and theatre". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-08-11.
  31. ^ "Mad About the Boy". Retrieved 2018-08-11.
  32. ^ Billington, Michael (2010-06-10). "Theatre review | Sus | Young Vic, London | Michael Billington". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-08-11.