Theatre Practitioners have been charged to package theatre productions very well in order to attract funding and revive the theatre-going tradition in Nigeria; and that live theatre is not doing very well because the practitioners have not really re-strategized and re-focused their performances to attract people.
This wake-up call was made by the Executive Secretary, National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Dr. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma, in an interview during the recently celebrated 2014 World Theatre Day in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.
The event, which had as its theme, “Theatre and a Culture of Peace,” was organised by the Abuja Chapter of the National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners (NANTAP), at the Ocean Basket Hall, Silverbird Entertainment Centre, Central Business District, Abuja.
Fielding questions from the media, Dr. Ayakoroma, who is a member and patron of the Association, underscored the importance of a well-packaged production thus: “Everything boils down to packaging. If people are not doing very well in live theatre, it is because the practitioners have not really re-strategized to make these performances acceptable to the people. For example, if you are doing a production here in Silverbird, and you say, Genevieve Nnaji and Richard Mofe-Damijo (RMD) are starring in the production, of course, Nigerians will come and see it. You know very well that Nollywood has made quite an impact. There are Nigerian movies that are screened here in Silverbird Galleria and people come to watch. It shows that if you package a live theatre production very well, people will come and watch. Once our theatre productions are well-packaged, funding will come in and Nigerians will enjoy our performances. It is the theatre practitioners that have to actualize that.”
Highlighting the importance of theatre and its potentials, Dr. Ayakoroma reiterated that theatre can serve as a melting pot in tackling the issue of peace in the country; “Taking theatre to the people, ensuring that people share in the messages of the theatre. Of course, government has to key into the potentials of theatre because once there is that shared dramatic experience, people will have a rethink, whatever the situations concerned, whatever the messages are. If we have plays that are looking at the issue of peace, the culture of peace in the society, Nigerians will take a second look at the peace question and the situation is very likely to be ameliorated to a large extent.”
On the theme for this year’s WTD celebration, Ayakoroma said it was apt and commendable with respect to the security challenges Nigeria is currently facing, stressing that drawing attention to the ‘Culture of Peace’ was very pertinent because Nigerians are craving for peace in the face of the various crises the country is experiencing.
He also commended the organisers of the event (NANTAP) and its sponsors for a job well done, noting that it was the first time NANTAP was using a high-brow venue and that it was a good starting point, hoping that the event will definitely come out better next year.
Two categories of awards were given at the event: Award for Immense Contributions to the Association and Award of Excellence and the National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), under the leadership of Dr. Barclays Ayakoroma, was one of the recipients in the second category.
Njideka Justina Dimgba
NICO HQ, Abuja