National Certificate of Education (NCE) II Theatre Arts students of the College of Education (COE), Akwanga, Nasarawa State, on Friday, 10th March, 2017, staged Barclays Ayakoroma’s Castles in the Air, with the Management of the College expressing deep appreciation for Ayakoroma’s invaluable contributions to the growth of the theatre department in the College.

Conveying Management’s appreciation in a remark at the end of the production of the play, which was directed by Mr. Jack Juilus Sheria, the Dean, School of Arts and Secondary Education, Mr. Musa Akwe, said Assoc. Prof. Barclays Ayakoroma has been everything to the department.

His words: “I want to stress our level of gratitude and appreciation to Prof. Ayakoroma. He happens to be the lecturer of the director of the play and I am sure the director knew what he saw in him that is why persistently, he has been presenting his plays and for me, I have never regretted coming to watch his plays being produced here on stage”.

Continuing, he said: “We will be very happy to continue to have you in our midst. In fact, we have at this very moment awarded you associate member of the department and on the part of the College Management, I took the message to them the last time you came here and I am still going to take the message today again”.

“Your contributions in terms of reading materials and the plays you have been giving to us are immeasurable and I will still express that to the Management and I am sure you will hear from us”.

In his response, Prof. Barclays Ayakoroma, who is also a Visiting Associate Professor at Department of Theatre & Cultural Studies, Nasarawa State University, Keffi (NSUK), where Jack Julius Sheria graduated from, while expressing appreciation to the Dean for his patronage of the theatre, also commended the students for their efforts in staging the play, disclosing that there were some flashes of prospective actors and actresses amongst the cast but that their major challenge was the inability to fully project for those at the back of the auditorium to hear them.

Stressing the importance of projection in theatre productions, Prof. Ayakoroma said: “As an actor, your primary tools are your body and your voice. You use your voice to interpret the role because when you talk, we see that role and of course what you are going through now is the requisite training for you to really improve and if you maintain this, you will go places”.

“For some of you, you have problems of enunciation, which has to do with delivering your lines clearly for people to hear and understand you. You have to be clear in your delivery. I don’t know if you are going to produce this play again; but if you are going to revisit it, make sure your lines are very clear. Let us know when you are very happy and when you are angry, so that your emotions will be very clear,” he said.

Responding to questions raised by students about the concept of the play, Ayakoroma said as a playwright, he thinks in the privacy of his study, takes an issue and examines it; adding that in writing the play, he basically looked at the issue of people living under false hopes and used the marriage issues related to tribal differences.

The playwright further disclosed that although some writers encounter challenges while writing their plays, for him, he does not find it challenging because in writing his plays, he avoids the most common difficulty writers face, which is the writer’s block, by ensuring he plans his works in a manner that once he starts scripting the dialogue, it is a straight thing and in one week, he is done and the next time he comes to it, it is to do revision. 

“Talking about challenges, in playwriting, there is something we call the writer’s block and that comes about when you are not ready with the play. If you have your own story line, done your scene breakdown and you have your characterization, it is a done deal. For me, if I want to write a play and I have done all these things, I give myself one week to write the play because if you leave the play, you will lose the trend of your writing and thoughts because you will not be thinking and it might mean you will have to read the play from the beginning to where you stopped so that you will be in the same frequency. So, to avoid the writer’s block, I make sure that I plan my work very well and by the time I start scripting the dialogue, it is a straight thing”.

He further advised the students that apart from documenting their productions, they should also ensure they come up with a production handbills in future productions where they will have their credits, saying by the time they will go for their National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) or any audition and they are asked what they had done before, they can say that they acted in Barclays Ayakoroma’s Castles in the Air and have evidence to prove it.

Caleb Nor

Media Assistant to ES

NICO HQ, Abuja