Sam Ukala is a Nigerian playwright, poet, short story writer, actor, theatre director, film producer and academic. Currently Professor of Theatre Arts and Drama at Delta State University, Abraka, Nigeria. Ukala has also been Professor of Drama and Theatre Arts at a number of Nigerian universities, including Edo State University. In 1993/94, as an academic staff fellow, he also researched and taught at the School of English Workshop Theatre of the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom. As an academic, he propounded the theory of 'folkism', the tendency to base literary plays on indigenous history and culture and to compose and perform them in accordance with the aesthetics of African folktale composition and performance. He is currently Chairman of the Delta State Chapter of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA).
Ukala's published plays include The Slave Wife, The Log in Your Eye, Akpakaland (winner of the 1989 ANA/British Council Prize for Drama), and Break a Boil. His "Iredi War", a 'folk-script', won the 2014 Nigeria prize for Literature. It is based on the 1906 uprising of the Owa Kingdom (now part of Delta State) against oppressive British rule. As in previous pieces, he utilises and brings new life to oral literature and folk-based theatre forms. "A convincing blend of history and fiction..." Kester Echenim.
Ukala has also worked with the British theatre Horse and Bamboo Theatre in 1999 and with Bob Frith wrote the visual theatre piece Harvest of Ghosts, which toured the UK and the Netherlands. This was an experimental piece for Ukala, which relied on dance, music, and powerful visuals rather than the spoken word.
Ukala is also a poet, prose fiction writer, and a screenwriter.
Awards and honors
- Nigeria Prizes for Science and Literature (Literature) for Iredi War. The largest African literary prize.
2000 Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) Pillar of Arts Award for Prose for "Skeletons: A Collection of Short Stories". 1989 ANA/British Council Prize for Drama for "Akpakaland".
- "Sam Ukala wins 2014 Nigeria Prize for Literature". City Voice. Lagos, Nigeria. October 9, 2014. Retrieved October 10, 2014.
- African Theatre: Playwrights and Politics. Editor: Martin Banham, James Gibbs, Femi Osofisan. The second volume in the annual African Theatre series that focuses on playwrights and politics in Africa.
- Iredi War Publishers notes pub. kraftgriots ISBN 978-978-918-159-9
- Sam Ukala, official website