Hi seekers, glad to have you here once again for a vital topic: Studying Performing Art in Nigeria: The Not-So-Glamorous Part.
It’s common knowledge that many of us have friends, sibling, children or random people who went to the university to study theatre arts, creative arts, performing arts. We also know that some of us have interviewed such people as job hunters and at the mere look of their CV, readily concludes that “this one has nothing to offer” or “na dance he learn for school.”
Wait … don’t conclude too quick. Let’s digress a little …What is theatre and where did the art come from?
Mehn! If we concentrate on these two question we will have to be reading the theatre bible called ‘History of Theatre’ by Oscar Brockett. To save us that, let’s just say theatre originated from Greece in the city called Athens well before the fifth century BC as a worship of the Greek god ‘Dionysus’.
From theatre we get drama with tragedy and comedy as main subdivision. So what we do in theatre is drama and drama is simply to act or do i.e. see and do. Looks simple right! I doubt. Acting or doing is the basis actually but it’s a small Iroko with mighty branches. So papa, mama and all, before you think all they do in the university is dance up and down, let’s break this down.
Theatre is a rigorous venture, studying performing arts in Nigeria is even more sapping and in every way that I am afraid I can’t do enough justice to the topic but I will try my best. The teaching of theatre centers on two aspects: The practical and the academic (book work). While the work lies in the practical which presented as a production in at the end of each semester. The academic is to give a depth to the practical because you can’t give what you don’t know.
You will be amazed to know that two-third of course-work in theatre centers on academics where we have seminars, presentations, research and term papers, project works etc. Like other students, Theatre Art Undergraduates also read books that are mostly historical in content, filled with dates and events of people from thousands of years ago. Can I get a witness?
Then to the practical aspect, we have divisions and sub-divisions. We have the cast who bring to life the notes written on the pages of drafted manual called scripts. To perfectly bring life to an inanimate thought through bodily expression is the deal of every cast in a theatrical production. Needless to say, it’s not easy being ourselves talk less of taking on the mannerism of another.
And then we move to the crew who happen to be the engine or power-house of every production.
From the director, to the producer, stage manager, set/scenic designer, light and sound designers, costume and make up technicians, props managers, back-stage managers, box-office managers, researchers, speech instructors, stunt co-coordinators, stage hands etc, the list goes on. These groups of artistic, creative and wonderful folks work effortlessly, many times denying their bodily needs to make sure the show goes on.
And wait a minute, where do you think they get to learn their trade? I’m sure you already know the answer.
Now do you know that the functions of a theatre stage manager compares to that highly placed ‘HR’ in your organization. The director is the ‘CEO’, He or she is the Idea-box of the team, the motivator, leader, idea incubator, directorial manager etc. Theatre is about efficient and effective leadership from cast to crew. More so, do you know that management courses are taught in theatre as in other disciplines and exactly the same rule applies?
It is with pain I make to say many theatre art graduates who genuinely love the art have lost the vibe and all the society think of the profession is dancing. I’ve had my fair share of the taunt and so I am writing to discuss this myopia.
A theatre art graduate is no lesser than a medical graduate .They work in the theatre room, we work in theatre, they work to bring health to the human race, and we work to show humanity the light to a better world. For us we go as Shakespeare puts it:
The world is a stage and we’re all actors “. Only that in our case, we watch the others and reinvent their actions to create a level ground for change and a better society.
We’re not lazy, we’re not flippant and definitely we shouldn’t be scorned for choosing passion instead of instant gratification. and that is why Studying Performing Art in Nigeria is not so glamorous.
Check out our new post on good books recommendation for your reading pleasure.
© SL Kreativez, 2017.