Theatre Artists holding public offices have been enjoined to support theatre practice in Nigeria, even as they were advised to emulate the Executive Secretary of National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Dr. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma.

This appeal was made by Dr. Dan Omatsola, who was one of the discussants at the public lecture, at the Community Hall of the Cyprian Ekwensi Cultural Centre, FCT Council for Arts & Culture, Area 10, Garki – Abuja, on Tuesday, March 27, 2012, as part of activities to celebrate 2012 International Theatre Day (ITD).

Dr. Omatsola, who expressed dismay at the level of disconnect between theatre practitioners holding public offices and their constituency, the theatre, however eulogized Ayakoroma, as being very supportive of all theatre programmes and events, and in particular, activities of the National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners (NANTAP).

Corroborating Ayakoroma, who presented the keynote lecture of the day, Omatsola said, “theatre artists, no matter their status, should practice their profession and identify with same at all times like other professionals do.”

Also speaking, another discussant, Mr. Tunji Fatilewa, a former National President of NANTAP, expressed disappointment on the attitude of professional colleagues holding public offices, who would always state in their curriculum vitae that they were members of NANTAP and would not be seen to make any commitment or contribution to the great association of the thespians, stressing that they could only pray to have more of the likes of Ayakoroma to change the status quo.

The Executive Secretary, Dr. Barclays Ayakoroma, who delivered a Keynote lecture on “Nigerian Theatre Practice: To be or Not to be,” called on theatre artists and practitioners to cherish the profession like other professions – Law, Medicine, Accounting, Quantity Survey, Engineering, and so on, emphasizing that, “theatre is a noble profession, that was why in the early Roman Empire, artists were exempted from forced conscription into the army as they always dwelt among the nobles.”

The playwright, and theatre scholar, further stated that he was looking forward to the day artists would show genuine commitment to their profession by congregating with their fellow Thespians like the Lawyers do with Nigerian Bar Association, Doctors with Nigerian Medical Association, and Engineers with Nigerian Society of Engineers.

The paper, which reminisced on the popular Yoruba Travelling Theatres, Professional Theatres, Educational Theatres and the Amateur Theatres in Nigeria, basically emphasized that for theatre practice to thrive in Nigeria, there must be a genuine commitment on the part of theatre arts graduates and practitioners to love and practice their profession and that by so doing, the profession may not need government’s financial support to survive.

Speaking earlier, the National President of NANTAP, Mr. Greg Odutayo, had opined that government had a major role to play by way of funding projects, because, according to him, theatre facilities were capital intensive.

Odutayo, who was careful not to pre-empt Ayakoroma’s presentation, however appealed to government to make conscious and deliberate efforts to support the Nigerian theatre profession as there were dearth of structures in the country.

Other discussants at the lecture that attracted dignitaries from all walks of life, were Mr. Dotun Osunsanya and Mr. Denja Abdullahi of the NCAC.

Enock Etimighan
Corporate Affairs