By CHRIS ONUOHA
Stage performance in theaters in the country for some time now have suffered a setback which gave room to the thrive of home videos and indigenous movies. Despite the efforts of the Theater masters like Hubert Ogunde and alike, not much has been done to revamp the industry which draws formidable crowd to National Theater and other Art centers as it was then.
In a dramatic come-back to this once revered audience entertainment industry, Terra-Kulture, Victoria Island embarked on a project that will thrill and amaze the fun-loving theater goers in the country as a means to rejuvenate the theater industry in Nigeria, hence, packaged in an International Broadway style, called ‘Saro-the musical’.
The dance drama performance which will kick off in October, 2013 at the New Oriental Hotel Victoria Island, Lagos, will showcase a minimum of about 100 crew members drawn from international and local professionals comprising the directors, producers, musicians, actors/actresses, dancers and choreographers; such as Ayo Ajayi, music director, Makinde, the executive director, Gbenga and Kenneth as other directors. The media team is anchored by Jahman Anikulapo while Alhaji Teju Kareem, C.E.O of Z-mirage Multimedia as a co-partner provides the technical equipments.
In attendance at the preview were some of the personalities in cultural, theater, media and music industry. Mr. Disu Holloway, Lagos State Commissioner for Culture and Inter-Governmental Affairs, Prof. Ahmed Yerima, former Artistic Director of national Troupe and theatre lecturer at Redeemer University, Taiwo Ajayi Lycett, a renowned theater personality, Screen star, Joke Silva, Omoba Yemisi Shyllon, art patron, TV host, Mo Abudu, journalist and impresario, Mr. Ben tomoloju, Mr. Francois Sastourne, French Consul-General in Nigeria, Mrs. Bello-Osagie, Radio star, Yaw-Yaw, Tuface and many others.
The brain behind this project, Mrs. Bolanle Austen-Peters, founder of Terra-Kulture, Victoria Island in a preview speech and unveiling of the up-coming event said Saro-the musical (land of freedom) is one music dance drama in a production that is conceived to compete favourably with America’s Broadway Musicals or any other international music dance.
Austen-Peters, also reiterated that this came out challenge after seeing what the Americans did with our dear own Fela; hence, ‘Fela on Broadway’ which was brought back to us. She said having the potentials and human resources; we can do it better here, thereby creating jobs for our youths. She said “We have a history at Terra Kulture; with Theater@Terra, we have produced over 70 plays. And this was possible because we have Terra Kulture to do rehearsals.”
But she lamented on inadequate fund for the project and lack of response by the corporate organization in sponsoring the show saying the project was virtually funded by herself alone but at the same time, appeal to private and corporate bodies for fund solicit.
The preview started with a short performance by the group who are in high spirit prior to the real event showcasing the drummers first in an elated intro that thrilled the audience followed by the full band and the choreographers.
In his short speech, Professor Ahmed Yerima expressed his happiness and commended Terra-Kulture for packaging such a wonderful theatrical performance that will revitalize the industry and also advised that others should emulate Mrs. Bolanle’s spirit in creating more of this.
Disu Holloway also could not conceal his excitement as the performance was to the point, timing and sequential. According to him, Lagosians are too busy to create time for leisure, but with a show like ‘Saro’ one could relax in an atmosphere of humour and fun. He commended Terra-Kulture for creating such a wonderful project and also said that Lagos State Government was doing a lot to encourage arts.
Taiwo Ajayi Lycett who bare her mind on lack of theaters in Lagos and Nigeria, also applauded the group for a great show as they brought alive the ills of the society through dance drama. She equally advised that corporate bodies should sponsor a great show like this.
Mrs. Bello-Osagie expresses her happiness as the casts expressed the true soul of the society by participation, publicizing and educating the society through their performance.
The story line commenced with a heart touching love story where a village guitar boy ‘Laitan’ and his lover ‘Rume’ expressed their love for each other followed by other members of the cast, “four young men who out of frustration embarked on a journey in search of their destiny in a land of freedom and opportunities”.
The story is an easy way of representing who Lagosians are and also talking about the free spirit they brought with them to the city with reflections on humuor, emotions, love, anger, pains, success and failure that depict the everyday scene you find in Lagos; hence the beach, the police, the motor packs etc. It is a unique play communicated through the words, music, movement and technical aspects of entertainment as an integrated whole.
“Here we try to appeal to the audience the sense of aesthetics, sights and sound as it is obtainable in international performance”. In the music, “we try to celebrate the old and the new, ranging from Highlife to Hip-pop, Afro-pop, Jazz and fusion of all kinds of music creating different scenes that have the different forms of sound.