At KWASU, academics, practitioners chart new way for playwriting
Playwrights from across Nigeria have underscored the need for theatre to be galvanised to attain a competitive and profitable level among other contemporary genres of arts. This formed part of the resolutions at the 2nd Playwrights’ Confab hosted by the Kwara State University (KWASU), Malete, from Friday, March 6 to Sunday, March 8, 2015, at the State Council for Arts and Culture, Ilorin.
Addressing participants, Prof. AbdulRasheed Na’Allah, the Vice Chancellor, KWASU, who also doubled as chief host, stated that the place of arts in national development cannot be underestimated, pointing out that arts remains the only discipline that has earned Nigeria and indeed Africa, a Nobel Prize in Literature won by Professor Wole Soyinka.
He said: “It is from playwriting that Nigeria got the Nobel Prize. So, if anybody is saying what is the achievement of playwriting? Tell them that Nigeria has a Nobel Prize in Literature. If you listened to the citation of Soyinka then, he was described as more of a playwright and even the Nobel Prize acknowledged his work as a playwright.”
The University’s helmsman stated that it was in the light of this that KWASU created the School of Visual and Performing Arts to celebrate arts and allow the country to remain in the forefront on African continent. He added that the university also established Malete Film Village to provide state-of-the-arts facilities for writers, filmmakers, editors, music producers and other artists, with a view to shaping Nollywood to an enviable height, as the second largest film industry in the world.
He said the confab must be dedicated to the Nigerian achievement, which he said had put Africa on the map. “We still have more heights to go. I believe that young people will even achieve greater than what our parents, forefathers, and ancestors have achieved,” he remarked.
Also speaking at the event, Professor Osofisan lamented the socio-political and economic crises bedeviling the country and how the theatre industry seemed to have lost its voice, if not its relevance, in the face of the turmoil. “Where other contemporaneous arts — music, especially and the films of Nollywood — are thriving, the theatre industry has fallen into decadence and decline,” he stated.
The convener challenged the playwrights to ponder on the root cause of the decline and the role expected of them to salvage the situation from further degeneration.
The confab had three sessions with themes as, Varieties Of Playwriting In The Context Of Anomy, chaired by Prof. Olu Obafemi of the University of Ilorin; What The Director Wants/Hates In A Script, chaired by Prof. Ahmed Yerima of the Redeemer’s University, Ede; and The Theater And Film In Nigeria: Whither Goes The Academia In The Nigerian Film Industry,” written by the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Abuja Film Village International Limited, Segun Oyekunle. The session was chaired by the Executive Secretary, National Institute for Cultural Orientation, Dr. Barclays Ayakoroma.
Discussants at the confab included Prof. Gbemi Adeoti, Dr. Osita Ezenwanebe, Dr. Bisi Adigun, Dr. Rasheed Adeoye, Dr. Bashir Akande, Dr. Bode Ojoniyi, Dr. Carmen McCain, Mallam Salim Bappa, Mr. Akin Bello, and Ben Tomoloju, among others.
A communique issued at the end of the confab recommended, among others, that leadership problems, lack of vision, the macro and micro-economic disequilibrium as they affect the society should be addressed in an engaging and entertaining way by playwrights.
It also called on the Nigerian playwrights to write in a way that they would be able to carry even the grassroots people along, and that they should take into account the crucial reality of social media and multimedia.
The communiqué further recommended an effective collaboration between the town and the gown in the playwrights’ pursuit of excellence, adding that there should be an Endowment Fund for playwrights or a specialised bank from where creative artists can draw funds with minimal conditions.
It advocated the encouragement of symbiotic relationship among playwrights, filmmakers and screenwriters while recognising for each of them to develop as distinct genres respectively.
The communiqué stated that in order to practically promote playwriting as a discipline, cottage theatres should be established by governments across all local governments in Nigeria, and that the atmosphere for creativity and free expression be enhanced, and sustained by relevant authorities — governmental and non-governmental organisations.
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