Monday, 4th December 2023

On ITD 2023, Eboh, Ayoub urge thespians to promote peace with theatre

By Gregory Austin Nwakunor
28 March 2023   |   4:05 am
President, National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners (NANTAP), Israel Eboh, has called on theatre practitioners in the country to use their art to promote peace.

Israel Eboh

President, National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners (NANTAP), Israel Eboh, has called on theatre practitioners in the country to use their art to promote peace.

In a message to celebrate International Theatre Day (ITD) 2023, which held yesterday, Eboh said: “As thespians, it is our noble call to use theatre to teach those ideals that promote our peaceful co-existence by constructing bridges that connect us as one big, happy family.

“It is our collective responsibility to ensure that our theatre becomes the voice that promotes Culture of Peace.”

First celebrated on March 27, 1962, ITD is recognised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) as the day to celebrate the global thespian family, its practitioners and recognise “our place as the mirror and conscience of our societies in building a better world for our today and tomorrow.”

This year’s event has ‘Theatre and a Culture of Peace’ as theme.

His words: “We are here to celebrate ourselves, because collectively, we are survivors of the many challenges that have faced us in the last 365 days. We are survivors of the many battles – armed conflict, economic, environmental, social and political – that we have had to confront in the last one year. While we celebrate our being alive and able to practise our craft of the theatre, we, no doubt, crave a more peaceful world where justice, equity and our safety to practise our craft is guaranteed.

“The celebration of this year’s theme could not have been more apt. If the world is a ‘stage’ where ‘we all are players’, then our collective performance must bring about a culture of peace and hope. As enshrined in the UNESCO constitution, ‘Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed,’” the NANTAP president said.

“As we celebrate, we must recognise and appreciate the enormity of our task. As theatre practitioners, our function must be to educate, inform and be the conscience of the society, using our ability to tell the bluntest truth, but in a way devoid of political, tribal or religious sentiments through our works,” he explained.

Citing Barbara Simmons, he said: “If all we hear is violence, all we will know is violence – personally or globally. If we hear stories of people rising above hatred to build a better life, we can all find the courage to create peace,” adding “We must become the storytellers that change the narrative by stopping to romanticise and glorify the culture of violence as a sign of ‘macho strength’, when we can promote peace as the greater strength.

“For every theatre of political war in Nigeria, armed conflict in Ukraine and/or gender, religious insurrections in Africa, Asia or the Western world, we must provide a theatre that heals, invigorates and offers hope for a peaceful world.

“For us to impact the world, we must first heal our collective wounds as a nation. Our theatre must embody hope and not hopelessness. Our theatre must spread the seeds of peace and not that of hatred. Even in the face of political uncertainty that continues to threaten our hopes, we must remain the reliable compass pointing our nation in the direction of peace.”

Eboh remarked that thespians are blessed with the voice that elicits attention, and that since they equally have the platform and a captive audience, their practice must be that of hope and truth the nation desires.

“We owe it as a debt to use our theatre to help shape and create a better and more peaceful Nigeria,” he stressed.

In her message, Egyptian actress, Samiha Ayoub, said: “Instability is a direct result of what our world is going through today in terms of conflicts, wars and natural disasters that have had devastating effect not only on our material world, but also on our spiritual world and psychological peace.

“It is our mission, as playwrights, the bearers of the torch of enlightenment, since the first appearance of the first actor on the first stage, to be at the forefront of confronting everything that is ugly, bloody and inhuman. We confront it with everything that is beautiful, pure and human. We, and no one else, have the ability to spread life. Let us spread together for the sake of one world and humanity.

“So, take your feet out of the mire of wars and bloody conflicts, and leave them at the door of the stage. Perhaps, then, our humanity, which has become clouded in doubt, will once again become a categorical certainty that makes us all truly qualified to be proud that we are humans and that we are all brothers and sisters in humanity.”

In this article