In a thorough interview by Punch, Ayo Ogunshina, 79, well known as Papalolo of Jesters International, which was made up of Jacob, Papalolo, and Aderupoko, shares some of his life experiences.
How did you become an actor?
I started as an actor under the tutelage of the late Hubert Ogunde in 1962. While I was with him, we staged plays that were billed as epics, like Yoruba Ronu. I was with him till 1965. Most of my peers that worked with the late Hubert Ogunde are dead now except a few of us. Some of my colleagues and I quit working with the late Hubert Ogunde in 1965 and formed a group called, ‘Araba Concert Party’. At that time, the theatre culture was not popular. I was in that group until about 1967 when I came to the NTA Ibadan, formerly known as WNTV/WNBS, for an audition.
Where were you residing before you came to Ibadan for the audition?
I was based in Lagos at the time. When I had the audition, they loved it, especially because we were young boys. They told me and some other young boys to work with the late Adebayo Faleti and after working briefly with him, he noticed that we were equally skilled and learned, so he asked us to join his theatre group and we agreed.
When we joined Baba Adebayo Faleti’s group, he changed its name to ‘Egbe Alebi Osu’. I had several gigs in the group and one of the stage plays I had with him was adapted into a blockbuster movie, called, Iwa; we also did works like Bashorun Ga, and Eye Atoka, among others. Also, we had a weekly radio programme called, Otelemuye, which was a detective series. I left Baba Faleti in 1972. When we were together, we travelled a lot and at a point, I decided to quit acting and stay at home because I needed to take a break from travelling.
At the time, the Ajimajasan Theatre Group had started doing television plays and they were competing with Baba Sala and others. I was invited to do a three-man show at the NTA. When I performed for them, they were so impressed with the three-man show they could not believe that just three people could entertain them that much for hours. My performance prompted Baba Ajimajasan to invite me to join his theatre group as he noticed that I was more or less a ‘free agent’. I agreed to join his theatre group and that was how I met Aderupoko and Jacob. I was there for a very long time because all I was after was to make a name for myself in the industry. I wanted people to know that I had the talent and I had always loved comedy, compared to the traditional plays which were in vogue at the time. All the while that I was with Ogunde, we only staged traditional plays and we travelled to virtually all the West African countries. It was when I got to the Ajimajasan Theatre Group that I got the name, Papalolo; it was Baba Ajimajasan that gave me.