It was another milestone for the Nigerian theatre community as National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners (NANTAP) joined its counterparts around the globe to celebrate World Theatre Day.
Days leading to the celebration were series of activities with a stage production of the play Moremi, last weekend at Freedom Park, Lagos. The main celebration was held on Monday, March 27 at the National Arts Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos.
It was on the theme: “Theatre: Springboard for Effective Recovery from Economic Recession”.
There were other theatrical performances such as “Beyond the Garb”, staged by Thespian Family, Theatre, and “OSUSU” by Lagos State Council for Arts and Culture, as well as a roundtable on the theme.
“Beyond the Garb”, written and directed by Ayo Jaiyesimi, centres on the burning issues of socio-cultural and moral rebirth; the presentation also focused on the state of the nation where the performer’s used dance, drama and music to convey the message.
In celebrating the day, the interim President of NANTAP, Israel Eboh disclosed that in the last 26 years NANTAP has worked tirelessly to fulfill its objective of bringing all practicing Nigerian theatre artistes together under one umbrella for the purpose of making the practice in Nigeria viable.
“We have through our programmes, advocacies, and collaboration with cultural and arts agencies and institutions, both local and international, government and private put the interest of the theatre practitioner on the front burner of our agenda with a view to creating a most conducive environment for the artiste to ply his trade.
“We cannot but appreciate the Nigerian theatre artistes who continue to operate more often than not, in a most unpredictable and insensitive environment.
“The Nigerian artiste must work in a society where his function is considered to be an indulgence; a situation where even government can classify the artiste as an artisan speaks volume of how we are perceived; a situation where corporate institutions regard theatre as a sector that should be merely tolerated through handouts shows how unenlightened they are about what we do and what we contribute to the table of national development.
Yet our government officials, corporate executives travel to foreign lands to watch the Sikulus, Lion Kings and Shreks of this world,” he said.
He noted that while other sectors are struggling under the bite of the economic recession, the creative sector continues to grow in leaps and bounds.
“Even in a most unreceptive environment as we find ourselves, the Nigerian theatre continues to creatively and ingeniously put out shows that continue to amaze people; even when the size of theatre going patron continues to shrink, we continue to doggedly put up shows even when it is in near empty halls.
As theatre we continue to represent the dogged persevering spirit of the average Nigeria.”
The Chairman of Lagos State Chapter, NANTAP, Makinde Adeniran explained that theatre is broad, noting that the entertainment industry particularly film has to do with theatre. “Theatre is the laboratory of the entertainment industry; that is what is applicable in Hollywood. The actors disappear for a while, where will you find them?
They are in Broadway retooling so that when they reappear they are fresh again. That is how they keep long in the industry,” he said.
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