World day of Theatre
Story By: Kouame Koulibaly
Next Sunday, March 27 is the 49th Annual World Theatre Day (WTD) and theatres, individual artists, institutions and audiences around the globe are planning a variety of activities to celebrate the day.
In Ghana, the National Theatre will celebrate WTD for the first time on Wednesday, April 6 from 10:00am at the Exhibition Hall with talks and performances by its three resident groups: the National Symphony Orchestra, the National Drama Company and the National Drama Company.
“The National Theatre realizes that by virtue of its name and position and the mandate given it, it must spearhead some of the major theatre-related events. So we decided to join the international community to celebrate WTD”, playwright and Executive Director of the National Theatre, Efo Kodjo Mawugbe, said in a chat with Showbiz.
“It is a day that practitioners of theatre sit to look back, take stock of what has gone on and chart a way forward. The day gives us an opportunity to exchange ideas with colleagues and be abreast with the changes and new things happening in the theatre business across the world”.
According to Efo Mawugbe, invitations have been extended to the Ghana Union of Theatre Societies (GUTS) the Ghana Actors Guild, the Ghana Association of Writers, the School of Performing Arts at the University of Ghana, Legon and others to come and help celebrate the day.
There will be a lecture session where certain key theatre personalities have been asked to come and share ideas and one of them is Uncle Ebo Whyte, without doubt the most prolific playwright in the country at the moment.
The president of GUTS, Nkrabeah Effah-Darteh, also says members will mark WTD on Sunday at the poolside at Apaadi Lodge, opposite the Tesano Police Station in Accra, from 2.00p.m.
“Sunday is a significant day for all people involved with the theatre so we will have some fun, swim and reflect on past achievements, challenges and prospects,” the GUTS president stated.
Effah-Darteh’s Theatre Mirrors perform monthly at the Citizen Centre at Asyhum Down and on Fridays at Bywell, both in Accra.
“Theatre is the most exciting form of entertainment anywhere but the challenges facing it here are quite daunting. Someone like Ebo Whyte is doing well to help revive theatre but l think there is more room for regular productions by the state-subvented groups.”
The president of the Ghana Actors Guild, Samuel Nii Odoi-Mensah, said the Guild would not hold activity by itself but will be part of the National Theatre-led celebration on April 6.
“Apart from football, drinking appears to be the next big form of entertainment for many in this country but it would be extremely useful if more people cultivate an appetite for the theatre.”
In Odoi-Mensah’s view, the high cost of hiring the National Theatre for productions doesn’t augur well for private or amateur theatre groups in this country. He suggests that the Folks Place at the National Theatre be made available to such groups at a minimal fee as a way of helping to develop theatre in the country.
Each year, a renowned theatre artist of world stature is invited by the headquarters of the International Theatre Institute (ITI) in Paris, to craft a message to mark World Theatre Day. Artist, academic and humanitarian Jessica A. Kaahwa, from Uganda, was asked to do it for this year.
She makes a case for theatre as a tool for peace building internationally. She writes: “To anticipate a peaceful future, we must begin by using peaceful means that seek to understand, respect and recognize the contributions of every human being in the business of harnessing peace. Theatre is that universal language by which we can advance messages of peace and reconciliation”
Graphic Showbiz, Thursday, March 24 – 30 2011, Page: 3