The President of Society of Nigerian Theatre Artists (SONTA), Professor Emmanuel Dandaura, has called on Members of National Assembly to consider the messages in the plays of Dr. Barclays Ayakoroma, as part of what will be used to promote good governance in the Nigerian polity.
He stated this in a keynote address he delivered at the opening ceremony of the Festival of Barclays Ayakoroma’s Plays (FESTIBAP), at the French Cultural Centre, Wuse II, Abuja, noting that the themes in Ayakoroma’s plays harp on the need to develop human capital, education, elimination of poverty, and corruption in the Nigerian society.
Professor Dandaura, who is also the Head of the Department of Theatre and Cultural Studies, Nasarawa State University, Keffi, also advocated that to sustain this, the culture of live theatre needs to be encouraged through Theatre Festivals, which Arojah Royal Theatre has kick-started in Abuja.
In his words: “Plays are written to be performed. I may not have much to say, because we will see these plays for ourselves in this Festival to honour the excellence of Dr. Ayakoroma in the theatre and culture sector. Arojah Royal Theatre has really taken a good initiative. There are challenges facing live theatre in Nigeria, ranging from finance and security. They have also made the right choice in Dr. Ayakoroma. He is a committed theatre administrator. I have worked with him. He deploys any opportunity he has in the promotion of theatre and culture in Nigeria. He has really traversed so many areas in the cultural sector.”
The SONTA President wondered how Dr. Ayakoroma, who is the Executive Secretary of National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), finds time to lecture and be also active in SONTA, stressing that he (Ayakoroma) is really a man whose place in the theatre and culture cannot be ignored and that he was happy that Senator Suleiman Adokwe was in attendance as he, Adokwe, is in a position to take the messages in the plays to the National Assembly.
Also speaking, Senator Suleiman Adokwe, who was the Special Guest of Honour, commended the Festival, saying such initiative will help bring the theatre culture in Nigeria back, adding: “It is sad that we cannot make intellectual discussion most times on music, dance, and drama. Most of us listen to music but cannot understand the message. These things are affecting our culture. I have to join the Culture Committee in the Senate, because I am interested in the promotion of Nigerian culture. Thank God Nollywood is now there, though there are many things they are not getting right; but there are many aspects of our culture they are projecting. The messages in Ayakoroma’s plays are really striking. My prayer is that we bring back theatre culture in Nigeria.”
In his remarks, the Artistic Director, Arojah Royal Theatre, Jerry Adesewo, said the Festival was to make sure that live Theatre does die in Nigeria, and that it is also to honour distinguished theatre practitioners in Nigeria, appealing that the Arojah needs the support of all well-meaning individuals: “Our plan is to use this as a template for the Abuja International Theatre Festival we are planning in March 2013. We want to use this opportunity to make Dr. Ayakoroma one of the Patrons of Arojah Royal Theatre.”
Responding at the end of the presentation of Castles in the Air, Ayakoroma expressed his happiness, noting that it was a pleasant surprise when Jerry Adesewo told him that they were doing his plays; and that the joy of any playwright is to see his works staged and appreciated.
He commend the efforts of the cast and crew in the production of Castles in the Air, which he was seeing for the fourth time on stage in the last one year, promising that NICO will ensure that the efforts of Arojah Royal Theatre to sustain Theatre Festivals in Abuja will not die.