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Once upon story time with National Troupe

By McPhilips Nwachukwu

IN every sense, it was another interesting session of talent hunt as school pupils drawn from about 50 schools, last week gathered at the Cinema Hall 2 of the National Theatre for the 2012, National Troupe of Nigeria for the troupe’s third edition of story telling competition.

As a tradition, story telling is part of the African life. In traditional African society, stories are told to children not only as an essential way of entertainment, but more importantly as a didactic tool through which mores, values and virtues of society are  inculcated in the children.

However, with the advent of technology and the new form of social media like television, facebook, video games and video drama, this critical platform of traditional social and cultural enrichment has been re-invented to a very surprisingly strange form.

Uniquely, the African story telling tradition is rich with all the intellectual and literary aesthetic standards. It encompasses drama, mime, costume, poetry and of course, tale narratives. It represents one huge gamut of a sizzling literary pot pourri.

Based on the realization of the potentials and richness of the African tale tradition, the Management of the National Troupe of  Nigeria, NTN, introduced the dramatized school story telling competition under the auspices of Children’s Creative Station.

Overseen by the Troupe’s director of  drama, Ms Josephine Igberaese, the programme according to the Artistic Director of  the Troupe, Martin Adaji, is a unique part of Nigerian culture and tradition that is sadly fading away. He expressed sadness that African children instead of being exposed to the rich and educationally benefiting forms of African tales, they are rather being spoon fed on daily basis with foreign  values encapsulated through the  western media platforms.

Through the programme, the school pupils are exposed to the richness of the tradition and also introduced to the wealth of experiences  and benefits inherent in the vocation of theatre.

They are also introduced to elements of scripting, stage, projection and costuming. The schools, according to the programmer’s compere, Shuaibu Hussein, are given free hand to choose a story of their own, interpret, dramatise and choreograph it  for the competition.

And what comes out at the end of the day was richly vast dramatization of the country’s heterogeneous but unifying cultures. Through the bales, the pupils are able to project the intensely captivating story, customs and values of different strata of Nigerian society.

At the end of the competition, Kings College Lagos emerged the over all winner of the competition among the secondary school pupils, while Marywood Girls College clinched second position. Our Lady of Apostle, third and Golden Bells fourth position. In the primary category. Tender Star School, Omole took fourth position, Handmaid International Catholic school, third position and Liham schools, Yaba, second position.


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