Fiifi Coleman is a popular actor and producer. His biggest acts on the creative scene occur in theatre, where he directs plays in a way that is both inspiring and imaginative.
Speaking on the KSM show, the man who played Chidi in Adams Apples talked on a wide range of issues including his stint as a sales person at Walmart in the States. It was a hard experience for him, he said, particularly because of the number of Ghanaians who seemed to recognise him in the grocery store. This was at a time when he was pursuing a film directing programme in Maryland, and the idea of a celebrity selling at a popular grocery chain didn’t seem fanciful enough. He continuously had to lie about his identity until he left the place for a more suitable role directing live performances at a restaurant.
Glad that he did, because Fiifi has shown his growth in the sector. On his directing style, he says he challenges the actors to develop their own character rather than tell them what they are supposed to do. This is a departure from days and days of script reading and memorisation. It empowers the actors he works with, and makes them feel more a part of the creative process than is normally the case.
Touching on creative ideas, he said something that resonated with me greatly. The jest of it is that, you might have an idea about some kick-ass project you think is novel. But as soon as you put it out there or start your research, you realise another version if not the same as what you have dreamt of is already out there. It might not necessarily be a case of idea theft, unless someone managed to hack into your brains, of course. I find it rather strange and intriguing for the simple reason that it suggests a fluidity of thought. A telepathy at some level beyond our understanding. And it is referenced in the work of none other than Dan Brown, author of the Da Vinci Code.
In Dan Brown’s other novel, the Lost Symbol, there is a sub plot where we are introduced to an idea that prayer is actually able to cause changes in the real world. The coming together of persons sharing the same thoughts and hoping for similar things to occur will trigger energies that affect the nature of the universe. Likened to or exalting the benefits of yoga and other meditation experiences, this theory is part of the broader discipline of Noetic Science. More than anything, Noetic Theory, at least going by what Dr Katherine Solomon alludes to in the Lost Symbol, supports the existence of a quantifiable soul. I say quantifiable because Catherine believes she saw an actual change in body weight once a person died, indicating that something had left the person’s body. Noetic Science looks at how “consciousness may influence the physical world.”
Regarding the idea of the fluidity of ideas, there has been documented arguments over whether Suzanne Collins drew (read, copied) from Battle Royale to create The Hunger Games. Battle Royale is set in the Republic of Greater East Asia where an authoritarian government forces high school students to fight to the death. While both books are dystopian, their depiction and general structures have been cited as very similar. The New Yorker actually did a piece on which one was more entertaining and more horrifying. You should read it here.
Suzanne Collins claims she had never heard of Battle Royale and there is no reason to not believe her. This leads to something I have held close to my heart for some time now; which is that there is hardly anything like an original story. This is especially true in writing (novel or script), I think. Whether it is the fight between good or evil or some character’s quest to take back the kingdom of their ancestors, we have possibly seen it played out before in real life or in another story before. Thus, Daenerys Stormborn is not the first exiled queen planning on taking back her throne. Sauron is not the first villain in fantasy, and Pie is not the first stranded character to survive being in close proximity with a wild animal. Whatever you have thought of has been imagined before, perhaps, because we have evolved as a species in a way that explains why a baby knows to shake her head to say no without being taught. What is important, however, is how you tell that story. It is the sub plots and the many folds you add to your story that set it apart from what everyone else is doing.
What brought about this discussion? Fiifi Coleman talked about having an idea about starting a comedy skit around court sessions. And then he saw Kejetia vs Makola. KSM also mentioned an experience he’d had with production houses who told him that even while they consider his pitch, it is possible to create a movie similar to his without breaking the law because someone else might have pitched it to them first.
Fifi Coleman is curently working a 150-member play dubbed, Ashanti, which investigates the history of inheritance among Asantes.
Watch it here.