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25 years of Stage and Screen (2)

By Larry Williams

During these years, we  saw the gradual transition and the build-up of the nation’s entertainment industry.
Television dramas began to gain grounds and stage shows reduced in number as in popularity. Only Chief Hubert Ogunde was left standing from among his colleagues. He combined stage and screen and lasted longer than the others.

Indeed, most of them passed on. They died from the fade of stage. It was a case of ‘fade off to frame up’. Soon after, the main bowl of the National Theatre was shut down from  commercial presentation of performances. Then, of course, came the proliferation of Home Video and that put the blocks on the path of theatre and stage production. We announced the demise of theatre stalwarts like Duro Ladipo, Zulu Sofola, Ola Rotimi,  Hubert Ogunde etc.

The art in acting could not fight back into popularity. Unsafe roads at night, car thefts, all made their contribution to the dearth of Theatre traditions. One of the capital reasons is lack of venue. There are no large enough playing grounds to give producers enough audience to make profit.

No Repertory Theatre companies to polish ‘green horns’ from Theatre Arts departments into brilliant performers that can shine round the world as star actors from any of the dozen or so universities in the country, the president’s Bonanza to the entertainment industry could be released into operation to build the Industry, Halls and Auditoria help performances, exhibitions, studios thereby setting up jobs for painters, sculptors, dancers, graphic Artists etc, to feed the National Hall of Fame.

We have established the theatre culture as in other countries, especially the western world. We should also be in the reckoning, in terms of performance, productivity and acculturation.  Several times, we blew the whistle to ‘Stop the Entertainment Train, Nigeria wants to get on’, but sad to say, we are still not ready as a national industry to tag along with TV industry, film industry and stage – to build a giant industry of Entertainment.

The Entertainment Industry’s growth or advancement should take shape first by restructuring for a better foundation, proper training grounds away from University Bureaucracy and improvement on teaching methods. In the Western world, there are schools for training actors and actors teach acting, just like football.

So, let the Theatre Arts Professors teach appropriate subjects so we can produce star actors not graduates of Theatre Arts seeking jobs as Receptionists and Bank Security.


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