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Way forward for young theatre critics in Nigeria



Good day, do give the readers a bit about your background and what brings you to Nigeria
My name is Margaretta Sorenson and I am a Swedish theatre and dance critic. And I am the President of the International Association of Theatre Critics and I work as the President on the board. And I am in Lagos, Nigeria for a conference for experienced theatre critics and also I am giving a workshop on criticism for a group of twenty Nigerian critics.

What is the International Association of Theatre Critics (IATC-IACT) about?
It is an NGO under the large umbrella of UNESCO and we are represented in over sixty countries. the association is based on national association and we also have some regional associations like the Caribbeans because they are very small countries but together. Also, recently, we created a regional association for Arab-speaking countries like Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt; just to name a few.

What is the aim of the International Association of Theatre Critics (IATC-IACT)?
The aim is to promote theatre criticism. To promote serious and qualified theatre criticism. We are working by depending on different auditions in different parts of the world (journalists and critics) which are the most frequent in Western Europe and America. And also academic critics.


What is your view about critic writing in Nigeria?
In the few days. We have been in Lagos, I have met the young critics and I can see that the twenty selected from over three hundred who applied and mind you, there was a selection to have the twenty critics. These selected twenty, already have some experience and are well qualified. I met with them to talk about the profession and I endeavoured not to address them as a teacher (since I don’t lecture) since my approach is to talk to younger colleagues.

What has been the success of International Association of Theatre Critics (IATC-IACT) since its inception?
I think it has created a very rich network for theatre critics. This workshop for young critics is a national one and it is an exception.

Why is it an exception?
It is an exception because normally, the workshops are international and usually you would meet people from diverse cultures and backgrounds. That is usually the norm. But this time; it was impossible and being the first time such would be organised, and in Nigeria. And it was impossible in another context. There were these expectations and framework from the British Council and we agreed to do it national this time because we felt it was important that the IACT-IATC gets rooted in Africa. But normally, it would be international.


Where do you see IATC-IACT’s role in Africa nay Nigeria?
In Nigeria, as in every country in the world, there is a big shift in the media which is that the commercialised and the print media are in an economic quagmire, which is global. And a lot are turning to web editions, social media and online publicity. I work online and the paper I work for (I work for the print and online editions). I do blog on the site and also do post on Facebook but I don’t tweet. So, this is a long shift and we don’t know how it would end up. So, we are really in need for strategies as critics in a country and I think it is a great thing to have a network of critics.

What next for IATC-IACT?
I hope we would have a young critics programme in the Arab world and that the working language would be Arabic and French. As you know, it is a very different terrain and time in the Arab countries with restrictions on arts, dance etc. It isn’t easy but so far Tunisia has a little more liberal attitude. So, it might just happen.

Have you enjoyed your stay in Lagos?
Of course. It is totally new to me. I know some of the association’s members in Nigeria and I have been communicating with Professor Emmanuel Dandaura (the IATC Nigeria President) before I arrived in Lagos and we worked on the preparations for the programme together. Nigeria has special and famous people; Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Wole Soyinka to name a few. Also, I wish I could say I had seen some Nigerian movies. I would love to, since the other point of fame for Nigeria is Nollywood.


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