With all preparations ready for the Play Reading Party (PRP) of Barclays Ayakoroma’s Castles in the Air by Arojah Royal Theatre, Abuja, will witness a gathering of theatre practitioners ranging from playwrights, actors, directors, stage designers, lighting designers, critics and arts journalists in Nigeria, in honour of Dr. Barclays Ayakoroma, the Executive Secretary, National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO).
According to Jerry Adesewo, the Director of Arojah Royal Theatre, the reading, which comes up on Thursday, 23rd February, 2012, between 4-6 pm at Korean Cultural Centre, 2nd Floor, Rivers State House, Opposite Ministry of Finance, Central Business District, Abuja, will have the Director-General, National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR), Alhaji Munzali Dantata, as the Special Guest of Honour.
He said the purpose of the PRP is to bring stakeholders in the theatre together to address societal ills and issues: “Through our Play Reading Party, we aim at bringing Nigerian artists together to read a play and brainstorm on the theme of the play. Castles in the Air is a play with a theme relevant to the Nigerian situation. The issues of vanity, materialism, marriage and family matters in the play are problems in Nigeria. So, we want to use the play to pass on the message that people should not be materialistic. His plays have such striking themes. Look at Dance on His Grave. We collaborated with Initiatives for Women and Child Development, and Federal Capital Territory Social Development Secretariat to perform it last year to commemorate the International Women’s Day and Commonwealth Day 2011. It is a play on women liberation. We will also stage this Castle in the Air on 27th March, 2012, for the International Theatre Day (ITD).’’
The play, which dramatizes the traditional prejudices about inter-tribal marriages between various ethnic groups in Nigeria, showcases characters who build their own castles in the air. This is achieved through a gift that tears family and friends apart. As events unfold in the play, the dreams and visions of the future of Alhaji Mustapha, a successful businessman, changed in a few seconds due to a short letter from his brother-in-law, though he was content with running of his businesses. His son, Aminu, was to marry and father a son within twelve months and the family would get ten million naira. To Alhaji, this was more than the condition of International Monetary Fund (IMF). However, Aminu had to be married before it was too late; to Hajia Binta, the money should be forgotten; and to Aminu, it was an opportunity to quickly marry his heartthrob, Stella. Unfortunately, this choice does not meet the approval of his parents, and Chief Emotari, Stella’s Uncle. On the other hand, to Stella, the marriage has to wait, as she is not a breeding machine, and cannot guarantee giving Aminu a child, not to talk of a son, within regulation time. If she had to marry Aminu, there should be no conditions attached. To Chief Emotari, if Stella marries Aminu, his plans would be counterbalanced as he had concretized arrangements for Stella to marry an honourable commissioner, and eventually become a commissioner herself during the second term of the executive governor.
A satirical comedy, Castle in The Air, which is an adaptation of Kuldip Sondhi’s With Strings, but from the point of view of the Izon cultural milieu, has been staged in many places within and outside Nigeria including, Bayelsa State Troupe (Yenagoa), University of Port Harcourt, Film and Broadcast Academy (FABA) (Ozoro, Delta State), Delta State University, Terra Culture (Lagos), Gombe State University, the United States of America, etc. Also, the play has a video film version, Forty Million Naira Wahala, produced by Erica Okiemute Ezewu, with the screenplay written by the playwright.