Thursday, 21st September 2023

National Troupe set for Makinde Adeniran’s Beggar’s Opera

By Guardian Editor
12 April 2023   |   3:16 am
The National Troupe of Nigeria is set to host its 32nd Play Reading Session (PRS).

Artistes of National Troupe on stage

The National Troupe of Nigeria is set to host its 32nd Play Reading Session (PRS).

The event is coming on the heels of what has been described as a successful hosting of the Children’s Creative Station Workshop with Children of Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp in Abuja and an equal hosting of a capacity building and empowerment workshop in Benin City, Edo State, facilitated by the Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Culture and Tourism, Omoregie Ogbeide Ihama,

The PRS was institutionalised in 2001, during the tenure of Prof. Ahmed Yerima as Artistic Director of the troupe. The session is in furtherance of the Troupe’s mandate to encourage creativity to achieve excellence in the performing arts.

By the early 1970s, importance of establishing a National Troupe of Nigeria had emerged.

Invitations for Nigeria to participate abroad in different festivals, trade fairs and cultural exchanges also brought about the awareness of the need for a collection of different dances from the states for the purposes of honouring these invitations.

Equally too, with the advent of FESTAC ’77 and the entries of different countries of their national dance ensembles or cultural troupes, it was evident that Nigeria needed a formally established cultural troupe that will engage in international tours on behalf of the country and as well be addressed as the National Cultural Dance Troupe of Nigeria.

What, therefore, became formally known as the National Troupe of Nigeria was approved for establishment at the Council of Ministers’ meeting in November 1981. The objective at the time was to enhance the cultural development and artistic creativity of the Nation. It was also to establish a national repertory system, which was to satisfy the yearnings and aspirations of the professional theatre, dance and music practitioners.

By 1988, with the launching of the cultural policy for Nigeria, the National Troupe of Nigeria was formally included in the policy as a formal arm of Government. It was initially run as a branch of the Performing Arts Division within the Federal Department of Culture under the supervision of the then Sole Administrator of Culture, Col. Tunde Akogun (rtd).

During this same period too, the government approved the appointment of Hubert Ogunde as the first Artistic Director / Consultant for the Troupe. He was to organize a formal formation of the National Troupe of Nigeria. Chief Ogunde was to also embark on what was later to be tagged, ‘The Ososa Experiment’. This later became the nucleus of the artists of the National Troupe of Nigeria.

The objective of the Ososa Experiment was to prepare Nigeria’s representation for the Commonwealth Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland and to also convince Government that a group of artistes could be put together, organised and trained for the specific purpose of performance and future representations of Nigeria in both National and International engagements.

The success of the experiment thus led to the formal establishment of the National Troupe of Nigeria in September 1989. In 1991, the Troupe Haven, thus, developed was granted the status of a full-fledged parastatal by Decree 47 of October 1991 titled, ‘The National Theatre and National Troupe of Nigeria Management Board Decree.’

This edition will feature the reading of Beggars’ Opera, written by Makinde Adeniran FTA. The play reading session which will feature open reading of the play and dramatisation of excerpt of the play takes place on Thursday, April 13, 2023 at the National Theatre Marquee between 3.00 pm and 6.00 pm and it will be chaired by Professor Tunji Azeez of the Theatre Arts Department, Lagos State University (LASU).

The guest playwright, Makinde Adeniran, is a dramatist, and broadcaster who has worked with reputable organisations and individuals. His writing credits include Abiku (An adaptation of Ben Okri’s the Famished Road); Agbara, Sodom and Kolombia, Abinibi (A memoir – Still in progress); Alamori (the play that Nigeria took to Cairo International Experimental Theatre Festival 2005); Small Boy (an award-winning movie) and several other HIV/AIDS drama skits for BBC, a radio drama project, tagged Voices. He is currently the Secretary General of the National Association of Nigeria Theatre Arts Practitioners (NANTAP) Nigeria.

The Artistic Director/CEO of the National Troupe, Ahmed Mohammed Ahmed, said he is delighted that under his watch, the PRS has been revived to continue to highlight the need to use the Play Reading Session to promote good literary works of Nigeria across the country and beyond, thereby encouraging playwriting and play development through critical analysis.

“The importance of the Play Reading session cannot be over-emphasised. We intend to continue to use the platform of the reading session to spot playwriting talents, bridge the gap between theatre practice and dialectics and encourage people to cultivate the idea of reading plays. The aspect I like about the PRS is the platform it provides to expose the works of playwrights to theatre critics and experts so that they can suggest how the play can be improved upon. I am happy that the PRS is back and it will be sustained,” the artistic director said.