altAn Address By The Executive Secretary Of National Institute For Cultural Orientation (Nico), Dr. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma, On The Occasion Of The 2013 World Theatre Day Celebration In Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.

It gives me enormous pleasure to be here today in this beautiful and historic City of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, on this special occasion of the 2013 World Theatre Day Celebration with the theme, “Theatre and a Culture of Peace: Basic Orientation for Consciousness,” under the auspices of the National Association of Nigeria Theatre Arts Practitioners (NANTAP).  

I wish to commend NANTAP, for hosting the annual celebration and for choosing to honour an illustrious Son of Nigeria, His Excellency, Chief (Dr.) Godswill Obot Akpabio, CON, Executive Governor, Akwa Ibom State, as the 2013 World Theatre Day Ambassador for Nigeria.

I wish to also use the opportunity to congratulate Your Excellency, for the well-deserved award in recognition of your outstanding achievements in the promotion of the arts and the entertainment industry in Nigeria. It shows that you are a true Malabite, a man of action, and we are proud to be associated with you.

The World Theatre Day is the creation of the International Theatre Institute (ITI), and it is celebrated on the 27th of March every year by the international theatre community and by about 100 ITI National Centres across the world since 1962, when it was first marked.

WTD is commemorated with various national and international theatre events, such as special performances, symposia, workshops, public lectures, award presentations to distinguished personalities, and so on. While many of these activities are holding here in Uyo, coordinated by the national body, State Chapters of NANTAP are also busy with various activities. For example, the celebration by Lagos State chapter is on the theme, “Sustainable Environment in Reaction to Climate Change.”   

His Excellency, Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, a very important aspect of the global celebration is the WTD International Message. Each year, an outstanding personality is invited to share his or her reflections on theatre and international harmony. The International message is translated into various languages, read to thousands of spectators before performances in theatres throughout the world. The 2013 International Message is presented by Dario Fo, Italian Satirist, playwright, theatre director, actor, composer and recipient of the 1997 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Dario Fo’s message, which has been translated into forty languages (including English) will be broadcast today on YouTube, Facebook and on the ITI website.

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, theatre stands out as a unique platform for addressing societal ills. Its importance and relevance in tackling the myriad of socio-political and economic challenges bedeviling our country cannot be over-emphasized.  It can in fact be deployed as a powerful tool in the realization of the Transformation Agenda and a panacea to the precarious security situation in the country.    

Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO put it succinctly during the 50th Anniversary of WTD thus:

Theatre has the power to move, inspire, transform and educate in ways that no other art form can. Theatre reflects both the extraordinary diversity of cultures and
 our shared human condition in all its vulnerability and strength.

The theatre, if fully harnessed, supported and funded by government and the organized private sector, has the potentials to contribute significantly to job creation, alleviation of poverty and a major contributor to GDP. In this regard, reports on the contribution of theatre to the economy of the United Kingdom are very encouraging. For example, it was reported that as at 2007, the overall economic impact of theatre in the United Kingdom was estimated at about GBP 2billion annually, with a subsidy of GBP 100million.

At this juncture, I wish to solicit the support of government, at all levels, the organized private sector, stakeholders, and the media, in making the theatre vibrant. Theatre must come back to life again in Nigeria. If the cinema culture has been re-invented, due credit to Ben Murray-Bruce’s Silverbird Galleria, then the theatre can take a cue. There is no gainsaying that a vibrant theatre culture in Nigeria will contribute significantly to job creation and national development.

I am confident that with an Ambassador, like His Excellency Chief (Dr.) Godswill Obot Akpabio, a very Great Malabite, standing as the ‘Rock of Gibraltar’ to support theatre entertainment in Nigeria, God’s will will surely be manifest in re-inventing live theatre practice in Nigeria.

I wish you all a wonderful World Theatre Day 2013 Celebration.