The Executive Secretary, National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Dr. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma, has stated that one of the ways live theatre can be revived in Nigeria is for the directors to bring in known stars from the film industry to stage productions.
Stating this in an NTA interview programme, On The Spot, presented by Abiodun Akanmu, Ayakoroma attributed the cause of dwindling stage productions in Nigeria to nonchalance of professional theatre and performing artists, arguing that there is the need to use known Nollywood stars to boost stage productions because of the psychological immediacy of the live theatre actors-audience relationship, to ameliorate the lack of interest in stage productions.
The playwright, actor, film and stage director said: “The situation where stage directors use new actors and actresses to stage plays may not attract enough theatre spectators. But as a director, if you want stage a play and you use core theatre professionals and stars like Richard Mofe-Damijo, Julius Agwu, Monaliza Chinda, Rita Dominic, and others as members of cast, people will like to watch such plays; because they will like to see these stars they have been watching in films one-on-one. The truth is that most of these stars started on stage and will always enjoy the stage. But the producers on stage productions are not making use of this opportunity. So, what I will suggest is that stage directors should mix their members of cast with known and unknown actors and actresses. That is the style the filmmakers use. You can see that most of the films have both known and unknown faces. The point is that the known faces started one day before they were known. So, if you pair them, you build up new stars along the line. That is the way it goes and people will pick much interest in live theatre.”
Continuing, Ayakoroma said core theatre professionals are to blame for the poor state of live theatre in Nigeria because they are not committed to theatre practice unlike other professions in medicine, law, pharmacy, and so on: “For me, the dwindling nature of live theatre is caused by the core theatre professionals themselves. Why I say this is that you can see a medical doctor, a pharmacist, a lawyer and professionals in the university as professors or those practicing in the General Hospital have private hospital, pharmacy or chambers, while they still lecture in the university. But you can hardly see a professor of Theatre Arts, who has a private theatre outfit. I can tell you that such can contribute to the growth of live performance. Also, we keep on saying that people do not patronize live shows; but look at Silverbird Galleria, where cinema is patronized. It has to do with commitment and packaging of the productions. There are many good stories. It is for us to use our initiative and package them. Look at the way people patronize the stand up comedians, like Julius Agwu, Basket Mouth, Ali Baba, Gordons, and so on, up to the point of paying N300, 000.00 or more, to have a seat. What they do is live theatre, and you can see the commitment in packaging the shows.”
Nwagbo Pat Obi