Theatre Arts students of the College of Education (COE), Akwanga, Nasarawa State, on Thursday, 31st March, 2016, staged Barclays Ayakoroma’s play, Dance on his Grave, attracting the school management’s commitment towards equipping the department to meet up global standards.

Deputy Provost (Academics), Mr. Raymond Wakayi, while commending the students for what he called, “an excellent production”, said he will do everything possible in his capacity to ensure that Management approved the department’s requests for materials that will give the theatre a facelift.

His words: “I commend the students of theatre arts for coming up with this very important play. With this kind of production, I am highly convinced that the department is very much current; and in my capacity, I promise to do my best to ensure your requests for materials or anything that will uplift the department is approved.”

Continuing, Waayi said: “This is not the first time the department is organising plays like this; and anytime there is such production, I always feel at home because we have a theatre department that is not only growing so fast, but has also helped in reducing the cost of hiring play groups from outside.”

“You have a prosperous future. Anytime I am invited to witness your plays, I always try to honour the invitation because I always feel at home when I come to watch your presentations; and without mincing words, I can say that in the near future, you will feature in national competitions.”

He therefore urged the students to see the play production as an opportunity to showcase and express their proficiency, stressing that there are several opportunities and openings out there for them just as he expressed the hope that the students will continue to do put in their best.

Responding, Dr. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma, the Executive Secretary, National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO) and visiting Associate Professor at Nasarawa State University, Keffi (NSUK), who witnessed the production, commended the students, saying he will not access the students based on his standards, as NCE 2 students, since they are not familiar with the cultural background of the play and may not have deep understanding of many aspects.

He therefore encouraged them, saying, “As an artist, you have two instruments which are your body and your voice. So, if you are talking and the person out there has not heard you, then you have not sold yourself nor communicated. Next, you need your voice. You have to be distinct and that is why we say as an actor, you need to have an audience’s ear to hear yourself and audience’s eye to see how you appear on stage so that you can help yourself.

“I want to encourage you because I believe you were not forced to read theatre art. You came because of the prospects in the discipline, especially now that Nollywood has opened doors for theatre arts. Now, parents are not fighting their children because they want to go and read theatre arts; everybody wants his or her child to read theatre arts so that they can be stars tomorrow; and I see some stars amongst you.

“Unfortunately, you could see that other departments are reading but you are on stage but that is the work of a theatre artist; and I want to encourage you to ensure that you are always studious, no matter the performances on stage. Let people not say that theatre artist is only known to dance and sing because you still have literary work to do.

“I see prospects in many of you and I want you to know that the success achieved in the theatre is a collective work. If the person who was changing the back drop did not do the right thing, you will not get the right result. So, just put in your best and whatever play you have performed, know it is your repertory;” he said.

Professor Ayakoroma then pledged a donation of NICO book publications to the theatre arts department to enhance its library, as the department prepares for the next round of accreditation by the National Council on Colleges of Education (NCCE).

Other dignitaries present at event were the Dean, School of Secondary Education, Arts and Social Sciences Programme, Mr. Musa Akwe, the Head, Theatre Arts Department, Mr. Mohammed Adamu Danjuma, as well as the Course Lecturer, Mr. Jack Julius Sheria, amongst others.

It is interesting to note that Jack Sheria is a product of the Department of Theatre and Cultural Studies, Nasarawa State University, Keffi (NSUK), and he has been under the mentorship of Professor Ayakoroma.

Caleb Nor

Corporate Affairs Unit

NICO, Abuja