Thursday, 30 June 2011
Tuesday, 28 June 2011
By Bimbo Manuel, A Veteran Nollywood Actor and Theatre Practitioner.
|Veteran Actor, Bimbo Manuel|
Preposterous as it may sound, Lagos indeed remains the location of the most memorable moments of theatre in Nigeria. Yes, we concur to the puritans of the West - West being the great Ibadan and Ife schools - but even they must admit that the history of origins pales into near insignificance put against the incredible commercial successes theater has recorded in Lagos not to mention those exhilarating days when the entire black world congregated in Lagos for FESTAC and there were more art and creative happenings per square inch at the same locale than anywhere else in the world!
Ask around and you will not be making any earth-shattering discovery to find that the Cultural Center in Ibadan is anything but and the great performance theatres of Ife and Ibadan have all gone quiet.
The Jimi Solankes, Yomi Obileyes, Sam Loco Efe, Taiwo Ajai Lycetts, Dapo Adelugbas, Ola Rotimis, Wole Soyinkas, Sumbo Marhinos...the list is endless - have not been able to clone themselves. The reasons are as academic and varied as there are persons airing opinions and there present elevation and view of the milieu.
Lagos. Good old Lagos. Incomparable Lagos provided opportunities, and guaranteed earnings for those who were able to make it here. Check out the terrain at that time. Some were quite content to play at the legendary PEC, everyone had there sights on the Main Bowl of the then masterpiece National Arts theatre and if that proved too high an aim, the Cinema Halls usually sufficed. There were a few other hall scattered around the metropolis and most importantly, everyone earned enough to stubbornly cling a lowly regarded and little paying profession - dramatic arts .
At least they could work. They could earn their pittance while immensly enjoying themselves and forming near unbreakable bond with fellow travelers. The venues, the police, the people, the education of the people assured that they remained employed to provide casual and intellectual entertainment.
However, The monumental National Arts Theatre has finally succumbed to the pressures of the swamp, the criminal negligence of successive illiterate governments, the abuse of criminally inclined artistes, patrons and officials alike, PEC is no more - please don't ask me what happened, no one knows, armed robbers have ensured that we will only be able to go out to watch plays and other forms of entertainment if we have armored vehicles and dedicated gun bearing escorts, I am not sure even our action governor will want to venture into confronting the challenges that make Glover Hall a no-go venue...
|Wole Shoyinka, a Nigerian Writer, Poet and Playwright|
I asked Chief Rashhed Gbadamosi the other day why he doesn't write anymore and his answer was as poignant as the entire situation, 'show me where I will sell what I write and I will write for you tomorrow...'. I have asked. My children do not offer Literature as a full subject anymore and they have only heard of Shakespeare, Wole Soyinka, Ola Rotimi Zulu Sofola and so on through accidental pop-ups on the internet.
Theatre appreciation is therefore low, Bode Osanyin is no more, Ola Rotimi is gone. Wole Soyinka seems almost indestructible and but we wish Kongi no ill but a time and a season for everything under ths sun and he too must go at some time.
Who then is there on the dramatic terrain to ensure that the legend of so man greats of the theatre is carried on into folklore fed and sustained on the continuing performance of today's actor, director, creative and technical crew patronised by an appreciative and informed audience?
Or should I tell tomorrow's artistes to look elsewhere when they ask me? Or maybe again, I could tell them about the struggling pervert, Nollywood...
|Veteran Actor, Bimbo Manuel with the Veteran Actress Carol King during a Stage Play Rehearsal|
|Bimbo Manuel and Top Nollywood Actress Kate Henshaw Nuttall, during the rehearsal of the Stage Play , Directed by Wole Oguntokun|