Six theatre groups from the Ghana Union of Theatre Societies embarked on a series of drama performances in Accra last week to mark the Easter festivities, and to coincide with this year’s International Theatre Day, which fell on Thursday, March 27.
Dubbed: "Easter Drama Fiesta," it was aimed at giving Ghanaians the opportunity to experience and enjoy live theatre performance and rekindle the dying theatre industry in the country.
The International Theatre Day was instituted by the International Theatre Institute based in France, to celebrate the power of the performing arts of bringing people together. It is an opportunity for theatre people to share with their audience, a certain vision of their art and its capacity to contribute to understanding and peace between peoples.
Each of the groups,Theatre Mirrors, Theatre Vibrators, Vision Theatre, Smile Theatre, Fihankra Players and Universal Theatre, performed one drama, which included "the Gods are Not to Blame, Fire in the Bedroom, For the Love of a Woman and the Phone Call."
Speaking to the Times at the opening ceremony, Robert Koduah, public relations officer of Fihankra Players, said the annual event has been in place for the past 12 years, but regretted that not much interest has been shown in the country’s theatre arts.
His claim was evident by the number of people who turned up for the eight-day event, as only the members of the various groups at most of the time sat as the audience for the performances.
"Theatre is now dying in Ghana, people have lost interest in it," he said, adding that films have now taken the centre stage.
He challenged the theatre community in the country to help resuscitate the theatre industry since it has a lot of potential. He noted that the Ghana Union of Theatre Societies has been unearthing talent for the film industry.
"Theatre has been able to produce actors like Fred Amugi and David Dontoh, among others, who are making it big in the film industry now, hence it is about time the industry is saved from collapsing," he said.
Abdul Sheriff, stage manager of Theatre Mirrors, in his opening address, said although the theatre industry is one of the most lucrative business in the world "in Ghana, it has not been rewarding at all," adding that artistes are not respected in Ghana as they are seen as "jokers."
However, the fate of the dying theatre industry, he said, should partly be blamed on the artistes themselves, noting "we make ourselves cheap" for producers to exploit us. "We must be disciplined and not allow ourselves to be seen as jokers."
He urged the artistes in the theatre industry to stand united and with a common cause, fight hard to redeem their image and that of the industry.
Mr. Sheriff commended the MP for Berekum, Captain Nkrabeah Effah-Darteh, for the support and interest he had shown in the industry in the bid to ensure that it is sustained. Capt Effah-Dartey besides forming Theatre Mirrors, is also the President of the Ghana Union of Theatre Societies.