That the present standard of the Ghanaian theatre in terms of quality vibrancy viability and financial profits is somehow trailing behind that of its Nigerian counterpart, cannot be disputed or denied by any honest and sincere theatre critic.
This state of affairs is so, owing to a number of factors which must be identified and addressed to enable the Ghanaian theatre to come at par with the Nigerian theatre if not to supercede it!
It is significant to note that the term theatre is considered in its broadest connotation to include film making but not confined only to drama dance and musical performance.
The first and overbidding factor identifiable in the inferior modus operandi of the Ghanaian theatre is that of theatre psyche. This problem had been long standing in the Ghanaian theatre situation up it now.
Conversely, on the whole, and on the critical observation and analysis indicate that the national theatre psyche prevailing presently in the Nigerian situation is relatively higher than that of the Ghanaian one. Nigerians by nature have deep and passionate love for theatre; this is spontaneous and flowing among all the age groups, young and old!
The second factor accounting for the Nigerian theatre supremacy over that of the Ghanaian is that Nigerian theatre practitioners and for that matter, film makers are more innovative, enterprising, co-operative and daring than their Ghanaian counterparts in their modus operandi.
The third factor accounting for Nigerian theatre supremacy over that of the Ghanaian is that of heavy investment. Owing to the fact that the Nigerian theatre psyche is very high, Nigerian theatre practitioners or film makers invest heavily in their work more than their Ghanaian counterparts.
The fourth factor but not the least in any way, that contributes to make the Nigerian theatre more superior than that of the Ghanaian is that Nigerian is bigger in size(about seven times bigger in size than Ghana), and has the largest population in African. Thus, qualitatively and quantitatively, Nigerian film makers overshadow their Ghanaian counterparts.
The above mentioned factors are clearly the most significant, although there may be other insignificant, ones existing which can be attributed to the supremacy of the Nigerian theatre over the Ghanaian theatre at the present time.
However, it can be safely asserted that the Ghanaian theatre in terms of playwriting and performance, dance and musical theatre, Ghanaian theatre practitioners can be compared favourably with their Nigerian counterparts, although it can be argued that the Ghanaian theatre psyche is yet to rise significantly to equal what obtains in the Nigerian situation.
Ghana at the moment possesses a gigantic theatre complex building, which is monumental and a force to reckon with in the present African theatrical situation. Furthermore, playwrights in the post independence era of playwriting such as Ama Atta Aidoo, Efua Sutherland, Asiedu Yirenkyi, Joe De Graft, Mohammed Ben Abdallah, Martin Owusu, Bill Marshall etc who have contributed significantly by their plays onto the Ghanaian stage which continues to thrive and function favourably with that of Nigerian where outstanding African playwrights such as Wole Soyinka, Olla Rotimi, Femi Osofisan etc had also contributed their plays to the Nigerian stage which also continues to flourish at the present time. There is therefore in the Ghanaian and Nigerian situation older generations of playwrights who are contributing for the survival and advancement of theatre practice.
The gigantic theatre complex building of Ghana is presently the pivot and the revolving centre of organizing a future vibrant and viable theatre which is gathering momentum at present to meet this noble national objective.
In comparison in the context of film making aspect of the Ghanaian theatre with that of the Nigerian, it is highly paradoxical and significant to note that Ghana possesses a National Film And Television Institute which is significant and a force to reckon with in terms of film making in Africa and can boast of training of film makers in Africa which include a large number of Nigerian film making students who graduate annually from this prestigious Institute.
In my opinion, Ghanaian film makers should try to imitate their Nigerian counterparts in their modus operandi mentioned in this presentation and aim at coming at par with their Nigerian counterparts and superseding them eventually.
In order to meet this objective Ghanaian film makers should first of all establish a formidable national association if there in none existing at the present time. If there is one existing it must be restructured and transformed to make it more powerful and dynamic in order to persue the needs and interests of Ghana film makers.
This national association of Ghana film makers should work to bring all Ghanaian film makers together in a strong unity with a common focus to better their lot in their modus operandi.
I also suggest that the Association or Union should try to have strong links with their international counterparts like the American film makers and Indian film makers associations. It should try to have exchange programmes, and arrange for the further training of its matters for the enhancement of their skills.
The association should also try to solicit for financial support and heavy investment from government and non-governmental sources such as the UNESCO, Fred Adenaur, Ford Foundation, and also from wealthy and charitable Ghanaian business men and women.
The association should bear in mind that film making or theatre practice is a serious and viable business on the international scene, and so, it should find various ways and means to lobby and mobilize funds in order to generate a lot of money, and help its members to invest heavily into their work so that they will be able to produce quality works that will yield high profits to benefit them.
Periodically, the association should try to arrange for its members, refresher courses overseas, especially in America and India to acquire expert and advanced skills in film making.
I am highly optimistic that, Ghanaian film makers have great potential to excel in their works on the African continent today. These are two main reasons for this assertion.
The first one is that Ghana has an internationally acclaimed and recognized film making Institute which continues to offer training to film makers on the African continent.
The second reason is that Ghana has a lot of young talented and gifted film makers who can get access to training from the National Television Institute and consequently practice. The number of practicing film makers will certainly witness an astronomical increase with time to boost the Ghana film making Industry.
Certainly, the low theatre psyche in the country will shoot up with time and make Ghana to experience a high theatre psyche in Africa comparable to that of Nigeria and other African countries. Ghana will then find herself in supremacy in the theatrical aspect of film making in the African situation.
In conclusion, I have the conviction that the Ghana Film Industry has much prospects and a bright future owing to the suggestions that I have advanced in this article for consideration and implementation for improvements in the modus operandi of the Ghana Film Industry as an integral part of the present Ghanaian theatre. The present Ghanaian theatre is indeed poised to excel on the African continent today; it must work toward this noble ideal to benefit the country in her ongoing Ghana beyond aid agenda.
By Michael Akenoo Theatre Critic