Dr. Phillip Umaru of the Department of Theatre & Cultural Studies, Nasarawa State University, Keffi (NSUK), has urged stakeholders in Nigerian Performing Arts to avoid the production of plays that will portray the negative culture of society, thereby painting the country in a very bad light.
Stating this in a lecture in the course, Nigerian Performing Arts, at the National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO) Training School, Abuja Study Centre, Umaru said this was necessary because drama, simply, an imitation of action, can be used to propagate good and bad or positive and negative cultures in a given society.
He therefore called on directors, producers, executive producers and all stakeholders in the Nigerian Performing Arts business to only select plays that will project the positive cultures of Nigeria, saying such will boost the image of the country in the Diaspora.
His words: “The truth is that drama is a very powerful instrument. We may see it as a mere imitation of action; but it imitates the actions in life. So, it is a slice of life and dramatizes the actions of life. When these things are dramatized, human beings watch them and they are influenced by the actions in drama. If we show negative culture, it will influence them; if we show positive, it will influence them. As a result, it is good for us to focus on positive ones that will show positive culture.”
To bring his point nearer home, Dr. Umaru divided the students into four groups and listed questions for discussion which include: What is Drama? What are the functions of Drama? Why is drama considered bad or good?, with reference to five relevant plays.
When the students were called upon for their presentations, each group demonstrated clear understanding of the question(s), unanimously agreeing that drama was a powerful tool to educate, inform, entertain as well as enlighten the society, and that if used negatively, the society would be negatively educated, informed, entertained and enlightened.
The plays referred by most of the groups were: The Gods Are Not To Blame and Our Husband Has Gone Mad Again, by Ola Rotimi; Dance On His Grave and Castle in the Air by Barclays Ayakoroma; Lion and Jewel and Death and the King’s Horseman by Wole Soyinka.
Nwagbo Pat Obi & Lardy Achara
NICO Training School
Abuja Study Centre