Saturday, December 29, 2007
Keeping the National theatre of
By: MICHAEL AKENOO
THE National theatre of Ghana which cost the government of Ghana ten million U.S. Dollars to build was built by Chinese experts and workers and was officially inaugurated in December 1992 to operate.
After operating for some time, the National theatre was closed down for renovation and began operating again during the early part of last year.
A critical analysis and evaluation of the performance of the National theatre since it began operating indicates that it is yet to meet its expected role in the context of theatre practice and business in this country – that is, being the focal point of vibrant theatrical performance and activities as pertains elsewhere in the world today.
Much as the present new administration of the National Theatre is doing in order to keep the place busy with theatrical activities, it appears it is not making any headway in this direction, and things seem to remain the same as they were during the tenure of the former administration – a situation one can aptly describe as “non performance” in the context of theatrical demands!
It is indisputable that National Theatres of many countries in the world today such as Britain, Germany, France, U.S. Senegal, Morocco etc. are very busy places of theatrical activities.
For example, the Berlin Theatre in Germany or the Broadway Theatre in New York in the U.S. are places of serious theatre business and practice. The roles these national theatres play contribute tremendously to the development and economic prosperity of these nations. And for this key role that they play in national development, they cannot be described as white elephants in theatrical parlance.
In order not to give critics the chance to label the National Theatre of Ghana a white elephant, I suggest the following measures to be taken immediately by the Ministry of Chieftaincy and Culture.
1. A permanent special committee composed of theatre experts should be set up to develop a blueprint or modalities on how the National theatre of Ghana should operate efficiently in order to be very busy all the time with theatrical activities.
2. The committee should also devise an effective mechanism to monitor the performance of the National Theatre and to write periodic reports and recommendations to the Ministry of Chieftaincy and Culture for study and action.
3. The committee should as a matter of urgency look for an experienced and highly qualified person to occupy the top position of Executive Director of the National theatre which is vacant at present.
4. The committee should solicit financial support and other forms of assistance from the government of Ghana and international agencies such as the UNESCO to enhance the effective running of the National theatre.
5. The committee must have a vision of working very hard to raise the level of performance of the National theatre to meet international standards that can be compared favourably with the national theatres of great nations like the U.S., Britain, France, Germany etc., and also to raise the image of the National theatre as one of the most vibrant on the African continent!
I have the conviction that the National theatre will be able to meet its great expected role in the context of theatre practice in the country, and gain international recognition to make Ghana one of the leading countries in Africa and the world at large where serious theatre practice and business thrive.
As a famous Moroccan dramatist once put it: “If you want to build a nation, create a National Theatre”, Ghana is fortunate to have a magnificent theatre building which constitutes a great part of a National Theatre creation and consciousness that will lead to the building of the country.
To this end, the National theatre must not become an idle place and earn the negative tag of a white elephant. It should be able to fulfill its great role of contributing positively to build the nation to experience development and economic prosperity in the years to come.
In the light of this great expectation, the National theatre of Ghana must quickly become a place of vibrant theatre practice and business in order to fulfill its great role of being the pivot of a National theatre creation and consciousness that will build the country to experience great economic development and prosperity.
The writer is a Theatre Critic.
TIMES WEEKEND - Saturday, December 29, 2007 Page: 14