RAISING PERFORMANCE LEVELS AT THE NATIONAL THEATRE
EFO MAWUGBE TO THE RESCUE
By: Michael Akenoo
HAT the National Theatre of Ghana has been performing below expectation since it began operating in 1992 cannot be disputed.
This unpleasant situation can be attributed to a number of negative factors that have been militating against any conscious and concrete effect that the administration of the national theatre has been making in order to achieve a higher standard of performance.
The first factor that accounts for the dismal performance of the national theatre up to date is that of inadequate finance. This is so, because the theatre is not self supporting but dependent on meager annual subventions from the government of Ghana through the Ministry of Chieftaincy and Culture to operate.
Besides this financial factor which constitutes a big problem, there is lack of adequate equipment and facilities to create the right environment for a vibrant theatre practice to take place.
The third factor is the absence of attractive and motivating working conditions for theatre artistes and workers of the national theatre of Ghana.
The last factor is the non-availability of many highly qualified theatre artistes such as play wrights, play Directors, choreographers, music director’s dramaturges or theatre critics, and others to operate along and with the theatre in order to effect the dynamics and standards like what prevails of places like London, Berlin, Pairs, and New York.
It appears to me that the recent appointment of Mr. Efo Kodjo Mawugbe as the new Executive Director of the National Theatre will bring about a new lease of life to rejuvenate the hitherto low level of performance at the place.
I believe that Efo Mawugbe will be able to deliver to expectation, bearing in mind his reputation as a seasoned theatre artiste who has been on the scene for so long a time that he will be able to assess properly the problems that confront the national theatre.
Efo Mawugbe is a seasoned Ghanaian playwright and has been in the thick of affairs on the theatre scene. He has held various important positions under the National Commission on Culture such as the Director of the Centre for National Culture, Accra (formerly known as the Arts Council of Ghana), Accra, Director of Centre for national culture, Western Region, and Artistic Director of the National Theatre of Ghana, among others.
Those to assist him include Dzifa Glikpoe, a seasoned theatre artiste, playwright and play director whose great love for theatre goes back a long time having once been the artistic director of Abibigromma, the reputable Ghanaian theatre company based at the national theatre.
It is important that everyone involved in the promotion and development of Ghanaian theatre lends him his or her maximum support in every way possible so that Ghanaian theatre can take a leap forward. This is because theatre is a collaborative enterprise which can only thrive well when all who are involved in its promotion and practice are competent, well motivated and cooperative.
The destiny of the national theatre of Ghana s now in the hands of Efo Kodjo Mawugbe and his team of experts who will be working with him form now onwards to translate his ideas into action. It is high time the National Theatre of Ghana performed to expectation in order to avoid the continued wearing of the white elephant tag labeled by critics within and outside Ghana. The national theatre has come of age; and it must now perform in order to meet international standards.
In an interview in his office at the National Theatre Efo Kodjo Mawugbe, disclosed that he had short term and long term plans to raise the level of performances of the national theatre. For instance, he mentioned an outreach programme for all senior high schools in the country that will soon take off.
He also said that all the centres for National Culture in the country would be involved in theatre promotion in the country adding that next year, each regional centre for National Culture would be given the opportunity to exhibit its arts and culture at the national theatre in Accra.
There will also be drama festivals involving the state and private universities that have drama departments and also teach drama.
Finally, it will depend largely on motivating, and inspiring conditions for the national theatre of Ghana to perform efficiently. This will depend on the level of commitment and sacrifice of Efo Mawugbe and all those in the band wagon of theatre promotion and practice.
The Ghanaian Times Page: 16 Saturday, September 25, 2010