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Seaside Cottage Theatre opens in Bariga to catch them young

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Footprint of David Art performing at the opening

Hope was recently renewed, particularly for young people in Bariga area of Lagos, as Footprints of David Art, a children’s theatre academy, recently held the pre-commissioning of its Seaside Cottage Theatre. It is part of My Bariga, My Pride Initiative (MBMPI), a community-based humanitarian project aimed at catering for the interests and talents of children and young adults by taking them off the streets in order to curb youthful excesses.

The event witnessed a large turnout of dignitaries and had in attendance Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, as guest of honour. Also present were the Executive Chairman of Bariga LCDA, Hon. Kolade Alabi David, first female Permanent Secretary in Nigeria, Mrs. Francesca Yetunde Emanuel, Chairman, National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts, Lagos Chapter, Mr. Makinde Adeniran, royal fathers among others.

Soyinka said theatre had gone beyond mere entertainment and is now used as a major tool for community development. According to him, “Theatre, especially what I term community theatre, helps in transforming an underprivileged community into a developed one. There are many talents embedded in every individual, no matter who they are, where they live or what their future looks like. It is therefore the duty of theatre practitioners and groups to beam their searchlights into these abandoned communities and harness the full potential of these young ones, because when we do that, we give them a future and also help in curbing crime in the society.”

Soyinka also congratulated the community for the great platform that has been given to them, and urged the organisers to not relent in their dream of developing the community.

“I wish to congratulate not only the beneficiaries but the entire members of the community for this wonderful opportunity that has come your way,” he said. “It is a rare feat and I urge you all to utilise it and I assure you that in no distant time this will be an avenue that will produce stars among you. To the organisers I must express my sincere appreciation to you for presenting hope to these people. And I implore that you do not relent in making this dream a reality, because this experiment is a seed that has been planted in order to become an abundant harvest for the members of this community.”

Emmanuel, on her own part, expressed delight at the abundant talent she saw in the beneficiaries, saying she was confident that the initiative would be of great benefit.

“I am very much impressed at the incredible talents these children have,” she said. “It baffles my imagination that such talents can be seen among underprivileged ones like these. This goes to show that talent is no respecter of environment and that it only requires some form of motivation and support for it to blossom. I am therefore very optimistic that this initiative would be of great benefit to them and would be remembered as the shining light for the upiftment of the children and the community at large.”

Creative Art Director of Footprints of David Art, Mr. Seun Awobaje, explained the motive behind the establishment of the initiative, saying, “Seaside Cottage Theatre is the door that opens to a lot of opportunities to the people living in this community. It is an avenue for them to enjoy some of the basic amenities needed for human survival and also a platform to showcase their talents to the world in order for them to become celebrities in the future. We may not be born with silver spoons, but with our talents, we are sure to get one for ourselves. We need to correct the impression that Bariga is only a community of crime, but make them see that we have got a lot of responsible individuals, who only need some bit of motivation and care for them to succeed.”

Awobaje also pleaded with the dignitaries and well-to-do individuals for financial support towards the sustenance of the project, adding, “We are faced with lots of challenges, ranging from money to pay our teachers to purchase of our musical instruments. We have done our best to solve these problems, but they now seem to be beyond our capacity. This is why we seek for financial support from you all in order to see that this project does not collapse.”

Bariga LCDA chairman, David, promised to support the project saying it is a great avenue for improving the lives of children in the community and a wonderful opportunity to implement the regeneration plan he has for the community.

“When the Seaside Cottage Theatre executives came to me to discuss this project and seek my support,” he said, “I didn’t think twice because I knew that the project is a wonderful one. I believed that this project would help in changing positively the lives of our children and help in reducing crime in our community. Also, I gave my support because I knew it was a good opportunity for us to implement our regeneration plan for Bariga LCDA. This, I believe, would serve a great purpose to every member of the community.”

The high point of the event was an incredible performance by Footprints of David Art to the admiration of guests.


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