Poetro Deandrea in his book titled: Fertile Crossings published in 2002 quotes Mohammed Ben Abdallah, a renowned Ghanaian and African playwright as saying:
"What I keep repeating to my students of the School of Performing Arts, University of Ghana, is that I find it unacceptable that more than 25 years after the establishment of the school, there is no linkage with show business between industry and theatre. It took government efforts to establish one modern professional theatre company."
In fact Mohammed Abdallah has boldly put across an important fact which needs urgent attention. The fact is that the development of theatre in this country has for a long time been at a snail’s pace if not at a stand still.
This state of affairs is due to lack of pragmatic and realistic policies that should be taken to facilitate the rapid development of theatre in the country.
It is significant to note that those who are of the same standing and calibre with expert knowledge of theatre as Abdallah, and have also influence in government circles, have failed to let the government exercise a strong political will to make theatre a priority area that will embrace all its development programmes for the country.
Theatre is a serious business undertaking and demands pragmatic and workable policies in order to achieve results. Countries such as the U.S, Britain, France, Japan, China etc. which have seriously undertaken theatre promotion and development have achieved enlightened greatness and development in the world today.
If Ghana is to make any headway in her development efforts, she must take theatre development seriously and begin to plan and act in a realistic and pragmatic way so as to make her theatre viable and beneficial to the development of the country.
The School of Performing Arts was established in 1962 as the pivot for theatre studies and development for the country.
Over the years, the school has turned out graduates who are supposed to carry the vision of the School of Performing Arts into reality; unfortunately, this has not been possible due to many factors.
Many of the graduates of the School of Performing Arts have abandoned theatre completely and turned their attention to other disciplines such as law, business accounting etc. to earn their living. This is because a suitable and conducive infrastructure has not been created to absorb these graduates. Graduates of the School of Performing Arts hardly have the opportunity to put into practice their knowledge and skills.
It is saddening to note that there is brain drain of the products of the School of Performing Arts since they drift away to other disciplines to earn their living.
There must be a way of checking this influx of theatre graduates to other disciplines.
In the light of this unpleasant situation, I would like to make some suggestions which I believe will go a long way to make the School of Performing Arts more productive and useful in the context of theatre development and Ghana’s development aspirations.
The first step to be taken is to restructure and reorganise the School of Performing Arts with the view to making theatre studies a highly attractive and lucrative discipline which has bright prospects of making theatre graduates highly productive to the development needs of the country.
The School of Performing Arts should convince and persuade the government of Ghana to give state sponsorship to theatre and make it a top priority in the development agenda of the country. The government should be made aware that without theatre development Ghana cannot experience any development.
The school should review all its courses and make them development oriented. It should also make it possible for theatre to penetrate every aspect of Ghanaian life in the socio-economic set-up such as the civil service,industry, health, agriculture etc.
This will gradually make theatre to manifest in every aspect of Ghanaian life. My opinion is that the school has not fully lived up to expectation since it was established in 1962, hence the present poor state of theatre development in the country!
To this end, the school should adjust itself to face the problems militating against the development of theatre in the country, and make efforts to solve them.
I hope with self appraisal and a renewed vision as well as much commitment, the School of Performing Arts will be able to link theatre to the industry, politics, social and economic life of the country; and thus, make theatre a national priority to reflect in all the development programmes of the country.