The yuletide saw a series of stage performances come to the fore. Some from known production houses, scoring points, while some came from new entrants on the scene trying to build on an already cultivated habit and behavior.
I had planned the plays I was going to see, frankly, I won’t have been able to see them all, even if I tried, but just recently and after a lot of them tried to capitalize on the season, it got me thinking, is “Theatre really winning in Nigeria”?
My love for theater started at a young age when my dad took my siblings and I to the National Theater Iganmu to watch a performance from a troupe in Liberia. My elder sisters took an interest, and I followed suite. I was a fan of the Weekend plays at Terra, when Kenneth Uphopho used to captivate my mind with the ‘what ifs and what could have been’ in our society and where some of our actors got their big breaks. Don’t get me wrong, December is a good time to run any activity, especially a play as many people are looking to spend time outside their homes. But can you imagine if Movie studios, concert organizers, and comedians only chose Christmas to showcase their work?
2022, experienced the ease of COVID restrictions and people began to go outside without the parameters set in 2020 and 2021, the movie industry (this is not a comparison between the two industries) released some of its best work with streaming platforms Netflix and Prime coming for each other. However, in the theatre industry, only one production company had the audacity to defy the odds and put out plays – Duke of Shomolu Productions. During the year, the production company, ran 3 plays namely Awolowo, Emir Sanusi, Sardauna, then for December, it released ENCORE a showing of 4 of their plays namely – “The Duke Has gone Mad”, “Awolowo”, Ufok Ibaan”, and Ogiame Erejuwa ii. Outside of this, the others I knew were, ‘Ini’ by Sisiano, ‘Love is the Musical’ by Ice Nweke. Then in December, Terra Kulture decided to grace us with their presence and produce ‘Motherland’ that was sold out even with the extra days, there was ‘Hear Word’, Ini, Osamede, and ‘The Future is here’ but why are they so few though, especially as we see that people can’t get enough. Why do we also have to wait for the yuletide to see them and who says we need to see a new play every time?
Questions, questions, and I don’t want to start the year with comparison, but the need to take a cue from Broadway and West End is inevitable. Our rich cultural heritage and history come alive with these productions and there is a need to turn it around so that young people can learn a thing or two from our past. The conclusion of the refurbishment of the National Theatre will be a great place to start, because, once there is a venue (a safe one at that) with ample parking the creators will come and so will the people. Production companies need to plan for the year, I understand theatre might not be your only bread, but please give us something to wet our appetite during the year.