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World Theatre Day: Nigerian Practitioners Celebrate Despite... by NaijaMagazineO: 11:13am On Mar 27, 2017
World Theatre Day: Nigerian Practitioners Celebrate Despite Harsh Operating Environment By Chukwuemeka Okereafor

TODAY is World Theatre Day, a day set aside to celebrate the successes and challenges of practitioners globally.

In Nigeria, the National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners (NANTAP) in some state chapters have week long activities including play performances, literary shows and media events to mark the day.

In a message by Isreal Eboh, National President of NANTAP, he enjoined practitioners to ‘be ready to chart new territories if our art is not to become stale’.

He lamented the situation where Nigerian theatre relies on foreign organisations to tell its indigenous stories, worrying that they will ‘turn the history of our theatre on its head… We alone can tell our story by documenting our history, because we are the heroes who have overcome all the challenges.’

Mr. Eboh called for a ‘heroic theatre…that knows no religion, tribe or politics…(not) built on pride or arrogance…is collaborative, celebrates each other and speaks with one voice.’


Below is full text of his message.

Fellow Thespians,

As we celebrate another World Theatre Day as theatre practitioners, we cannot but celebrate ourselves. We must like the proverbial lizard praise ourselves for overcoming the unfriendly and hostile environment in which we have operated where neither government nor corporate policies are our friends. Yet we have never folded our hands in self pity because we do not have heroes to fight our battles. We have never had heroes anyway. We have always been our own heroes and must continue to be so.

Who was Ogunde or Duro Ladipo's hero? Did Soyinka or Ola Rotimi have heroes? Ask J. P Clark and Ebun Clark who their heroes were when they founded PEC Repertory Theatre. Did NANTAP need a hero to start? They succeeded because they were their own heroes

To be heroes we must be ready to chart new territories if our art is not to become stale. Tastes are changing and our offerings must reflect these changes. We must recognize our qualities of yesterday mean nothing if there is no jaw dropping quality today. The ensemble cannot be built on age but mutual respect. If only one hero must exist then the spirit of the ensemble that binds the theatre is dead.

We must be our own hero.

In this time of recession and hardship the theatre must be the hero that bring smiles to the people's faces. When people start jumpping into the lagoon and canals to end it all, the artiste must be the hero that gives them hope to keep keeping on.

The British Councils of this world or their likes cannot be the heroes of Nigerian theatre. While we need them, we must be vigilant as they try to turn the history of our theatre on its head as they have already started doing. We alone can tell our story by documenting our history, because we are the heroes who have overcome all the challenges.

Who is still crying for heroes when even government is turning to us the "entertainers" to help bail her out of recession. Why do we continue to "beg" them to be our hero when corporate bodies now beg us to be the heroes of their brands to increase sales.

Can we not feel our heroic abilities? What is holding us back?

The heroic theatre is one that knows no religion, tribe or politics. It is not built on pride or arrogance. It is collaborative, celebrates each other and speaks with one voice.

This is the theatre hero we celebrate today.

Happy World Theatre Day.

Israel Eboh, fta
Interim President

Culled from Naija Magazine Online www.naijamagazineonline.com

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