The Play Reading Party organised by an Abuja based theatre group, Arojah Royal Theatre, took place on Thursday, February 23, 2012, at the Korean Cultural Centre, Rivers House, Central Business District in Abuja, featuring Barclays Ayakoroma’s “Castles In the Air” .
The play reading, with six casts, attracted several reactions from members of the audience, who were captivated by the storyline.
In his reaction, an Assistant Director in the Public Relations Unit of National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR), Mr. Ahmed Mohammed Sule, said the play was a clarion call for nation building, noting that: “ever since the end of the civil war, there has been calls for the unification of this country at various levels.”
To him, the play sums up various initiatives by successive governments, aimed towards the unity of the nation.
Another participant, Miss Seun Odukoya of the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), said the playwright, whom she described as “a prophet in our times,” threw up a lot of themes bordering on generational issues both literary and otherwise.
According to her, the pre-occupation with money, as portrayed in the play, has been the bane of the Nigerian society, arguing that one does not necessarily need to have money before one can be said to be successful: “Our pre-occupation with money in the society today is becoming dangerous both to the youths and elders”.
Her question then was how the nation can get rid of such, especially among the youths who are often willing and ready to do anything for money.
To Sam Agbi, Special Assistant to, and representative of the Executive Director, National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), Mr. M. M. Maidugu, Ayakoroma’s book is an extension of his mandate as Executive Secretary of NICO, which is to re-orientate Nigerians on the need to imbibe our cultural values.
Agbi maintained that the play portrays the reality that people with common interests are likely to damn the consequences of their actions, and therefore called for a directiorial eye in the production of the play, stressing that whatever meaning the actor tries to give the play, it should come with the ability to send positive messages across.
Reacting to comments from the audience, the NICO Boss said as a playwright, he could not realize the different angles that others are seeing in his play from, justifying that most playwrights least understand their works.
He maintained that the question of national dialogue and interference are basic issues in life, saying, “most times we want to live our lives in the status that people want us to live; we end up living a false life.”
According to him, “Nigeria is richly blessed except that we are always looking at other directions instead of looking inwards”.
Dr. Ayakoroma said the whole issue boils down to our value system which is dyeing gradually as materialism has become the bane of the present day society where hard work hardly pays.
Agreeing that Nigeria got things wrong from colonialism, Ayakoroma said, “the colonial masters came with the thinking that whatever is traditional, whatever is indigenous is not good enough and people aspired to be like them”.
Disagreeing with the position of the colonial masters, Ayakoroma further said: “it is not everything indigenous that is bad but instead of taking our good values and their own good values together, we throw away ours completely”.
Present at the play reading were the Director-General, National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR), Alhaji Munzali Dantata, who was the Special Guest of Honour, and Hon. Emmanuel Ibeshi, former Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Partty (PDP), who like Ayakoroma, read Theatre Arts from the University of Calabar.