That the National Theatre of Ghana is yet to fulfill its expected mandate and role as the pivot and driving force for the promotion and development of the theatre in Ghana, cannot be denied by any sincere theatre expert, critic or an observer of the Ghanaian theatrical scene; since the official opening of the gigantic national theatre complex building in Accra in December, 1991 by his Excellency Jerry John Rawlings of the erstwhile NDC era of governance of this country, cannot be disputed.
A brief reference to the much thought provoking lecture titled same as the above caption of this article delivered by the late Mr. AsieduYirenkyi, the renowned Ghanaian and African playwright, director and theatre practitioner at the School Of Performing Arts, University of Ghana, Legon in 2001, will reveal clearly that nothing had been done so far in respect of the brilliant ideas and suggestions put across by Mr. Yirenkyi for effective modus operandi of the national theatre, as part of that year’s interfaculty series of lectures at the School Of Performing Arts, Legon, at that time.
Mr. Yirenkyi gave a special invitation to the rank and file of the management of the National Theatre to his lecture; and they responded and were part of the audience that listened to the brilliant lecture that Mr. Yirenkyi delivered that day.
Alas! It is sad and so much surprising that, after this long lapse of time of this brilliant and thought provoking lecture, absolutely nothing had been taken out the brilliant ideas that Yirenkyi presented for implementation to enhance a viable, vibrant and productive national theatre of Ghana that will be comparable to any national theatre anywhere in the modern world today, especially the United States of America.
This indeed is a sad state of affairs as far as the promotion and development of the Ghanaian theatre is concerned. And something drastic must done now in order to put the national theatre of Ghana building on track and in its right perspective for an accelerated promotion and development of theatre in the country.
His Excellency former President Jerry John Rawlings did a great job during his tenure of governance of this country to negotiate for huge loan worth 10 million U.S dollars from the Chinese government to put up this gigantic national theatre complex building for Ghana between the latter part of the 1980s and 1991; and which he officially opened in December, 1991 for operation.
As at now his excellency former President Jerry John Rawlings and all well meaning and concerned Ghanaians are still waiting in anticipation to see the national theatre of Ghana building becoming more business-like, vibrant with varied theatrical production and activities comparable to any national theatre in the modern world today, such as the U.S; for theatre is a very serious business and it contributes heavily to the revenues of national economies of countries.
For instance, theatre alone contributes two-thirds of the total revenue generation for the powerful U.S economy today! Similarly, facts and figures for the total revenue generation for the national economies of other countries such as China, Japan, Britain, France, Germany etc are evident and testifiable for the great wealth embedded in theatre practice.
The present ruling N.P.P. government under the leadership of Nana Akuffo Addo has a complete ministry designated, Tourism, Culture And the Creative Arts, which caters for the promotion and development of theatre in the country.Quite recently, The Ministry of Tourism, Culture And Creative Arts announced a well planned programme for the rehabilitation of all the centres for national culture in the country.
Personally, this is a welcome news; and I believe that the ruling N. P.P government is much conscious of the great economic potential of theatre practice, and its great contribution to the boosting of national economies of countries in the modern world today; hence its concern to promote and develop theatre in the country. I expect the Ministry of Tourism, Culture And Creative Arts to go a step further after the rehabilitation of all the centres for national culture in the country to adequately equip the centres by providing the necessary modern facilities in terms of well-trained human resource and logistics to enable the centres to function effectively for the efficientpromotion and development of theatre practice in the country.
It is highly imperative that the management and authority of the National Theatre of Ghana should take advantage of the present favourable conditions for the promotion and development of theatre practice in the country and reassert itself by becoming more innovative, dynamic vibrant and business-like in the running of the National Theatre, so that it will meet its expected vital mandate and role to accelerate theatre development and practice in the country.
The era of seeing the National Theatre of Ghana building in Accra as a well established white elephant by many cultural, theatrical experts and critics must become a thing of the past and usher in a new era of life in its modusoperandi so that Ghana can greatly benefit economically to support and enhance the Ghana beyond Aid agenda.
In conclusion, the commercialisation of the National Theatre of Ghana must become a reality now, and not to remain a mere rhetory on rusty paper lying on the shelves and desks’ tops only to waste and fade out!
Buck up! National Theatre of Ghana and live up to your great mission and vision to develop theatre practice to the highest level to meet world standards and boost the fast growing economy of Ghana.
By Michael Akenoo, Theatre Critic