Thursday, March 1 -7, 2007
They came to see
‘Blinkards’ and a bit of …
The bad old days
By: NANABANYIN DADSON
EXCEPT for a few available seats on the second floor of the 1,500 seater auditorium, the National Theatre was full last Saturday evening and what was showing was not KSM.
A full house for drama? Given that admission was free, one may hesitate to applaud too loudly but indeed this was a great surprise to observers like me who have over the past two decades watched the strangling of mainstream theatre for lack of funding.
Saturday evening was different. It was not the opening night, it was the second and word must have gone round about how good the play was. This was The Blinkards; the play by Kobina Sekyi, a Cape Coast lawyer who died one year before Ghana’s Independence.
The Blinkards is described as a satirical comedy that expresses the negative attitudes of a society towards her own socio-cultural values and rather sees the value of the “colonial master” as superior and preferable.
The plot is woven around Mrs. Brofosem whose brief stay in England has produced in her the self-delusion that her traditional culture is backward and must yield to “the fairer values of the European”.
She comes into sharp conflict with Mr. Olimdze who proves to her that local values are as good, if not better, than any.
Perhaps, there could not have been a better cast than what Director Derek Sewornu put together for this production. Who said there were no good actors left in Ghana?
Acting was good all round, except for a couple of actors, such as Lawyer Oyimdze, who into their characters. And oh mine, what a slippery stage? Many actors kept slippering and falling, which was strictly no acting matter.
For a period play, the costuming was remarkable as the clothes made it easier for the audience to “transported” as it were, to the period of the play. Quick scene changes meant there were no delays but the music during those scene changes were not always of those “bad old days”. Can anyone imagine Dolly Parton’s I‘ll always love you” being played in the 1950’s?
These little glitches, however, fade into nothingness when placed against the very good acting that I saw on Saturday. The eyesore that I could not overlook was the set.
Someone has observed that the School of Performing Arts at Legon, where most of the cast and crew came from, have, for lack of funds, been made to improvise for so long that they have lost track of the real thing.
I am tempted to agree with that. Otherwise how can we explain the battered – looking flats, their uneven shades of colour, dreadful drapes, inadequate lighting and furniture carrying property marks that were used?
Still, the show was good and the audience contributed to that. Of course, quite a number of people came in late which meant that those already seated had to rise to give them way and a few had their mobile phones ringing but didn’t everybody enjoy the play!
Usage of words such as “dispenser” must have baffled a few young people especially one SSS, girl who asked me what the word meant. And then when a father asked a doctor “to feel her” – meaning to physically examine his daughter, there was a near – uproar in the auditorium.
There were many more such hilarious responses from the audience which made the play even more enjoyable on Saturday. How I wish The Blinkards will be made to go round the regions so that other people can also “feel it”!
It was an enjoyable evening. I admit but I would hate to be in the shoes of Martin Owusu, the university professor strayed into including plays that were neither “special, important or of excellent quality” nor “have been popular for a long time”, to pass for classics.
Second, the necessary wherewithal for all the official artistic endeavours for Ghana@50 has always been released late and in inadequate amounts. So audiences have had to contend with low-key events such as the Concerts of Church Music and Gospelfest which could have come off much better than they did.
The next play in the season of “Ghanaian Theatre Classics” is Mohammed Ben Abdallah’s The Slaves which is described as a powerful poetic proclamation on the evil effects of the slave trade on African people. It is scheduled for March 22 to 25 at the National Theatre.
Graphic Showbiz - Thursday, March 1 -7, 2007 Pages: 11 & 19