Posted by By SOLA BALOGUN on
As the year 2006 continues to roll by, management of the National Troupe of Nigeria (NTN) has announced its plans to expand the long history of theatrical performances in the country.
As the year 2006 continues to roll by, management of the National Troupe of Nigeria (NTN) has announced its plans to expand the long history of theatrical performances in the country. This, according to Dr Ahmed Yerima, Artistic Director of the troupe is in compliance with NTN’s statutory role as the apex cultural troupe in the country.
Yerima who recently served as Chief Executive Officer of the maiden edition of Abuja Carnival 2005 told culture journalists last week in Lagos that although he was away from the troupe for a while, he is fully back to duty with a promise to make 2006 a flourishing year in terms of showcasing the rich artistic, cultural and entertainment values of the Nigerian people.
In the first quarter of the year, the AD hinted that NTN is set to host a play reading session (February), while its third biennial public lecture is slated for March. The last edition of the lecture, titled Theatre and National Development, was delivered by Professor Yakubu Nasidi of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and the NTN is proposing Professor Emeka Nwabueze of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka to deliver the 2006 edition.
Aside the lecture series, the NTN also plans to embark on a musical and an epic drama production in addition to reaching out to accomplished artistes who have made outstanding contributions to the development of the arts. Among these is Professor Yasuko Endo of the Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, Japan, who is expected in the country in March as an Artiste in Residence to demonstrate the result of her pet project tagged The Motion Capture Project to theatre artistes in Nigeria. Endo had previously visited Nigeria last year and worked with six members of the troupe including Mr Arnold Udoka, the assistant director in charge of dance, who traveled to Japan for a workshop.
Earlier in 2004, the NTN engaged Professor Niyi Coker of the University of Alabama in similar capacity and the latter’s stay led to the production of Ola Rotimi’s The gods are not to blame which toured America in March 2005.
Unveiling a new era in the troupe, Yerima also informed that the newly recruited artistes by the NTN would commence a two-year secondment tenure as from March 1. Said the AD: " A national audition exercise was held here in Lagos in November 2005 and a total number of 40 artistes were considered out of over 120 artistes drawn from different states of the Federation that took part in the exercise." Meanwhile, the last set of artistes who were disengaged in October 2005 started their artiste in training scheme in 2003 and were said to have exposed to "the virtues of service, partiotism and the challenges of arts and culture in national development."
When probed on the perceived marginalisation of the media in the last edition of Abuja Carnival, Yerima contended that he was appointed CEO just three months to the commencement of the festival and that he had a great challenge then to make the carnival a success against all odds. He however admitted that the carnival still had rooms for improvement as the maiden edition was basically experimental, but afforded the organisers the opportunity to learn how to plan adequately for subsequent editions.
The AD also reacted to the allegation that the Abuja Carnival received greater funding at the expense of the yearly National Festival of Arts and Culture (NAFEST) organised by the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC). He noted that while NAFEST has always been funded by the respective state governments; with a capital vote to the organisers, Abuja Carnival was funded by the Federal Government as a special project aimed at promoting cultural tourism. Also the numenclature; carnival is, according to Yerima, most suitable contrary to views by critics that the word; carnival made the event looked more like a jamboree without the necessary functional and spiritual values. Yerima on the other hand reasoned the global community no longer refers to such events as festival, but carnival, since the former is considered demeaning when considering the quality of activities featured.
Most importantly, the AD who was joined at the media briefing by his top management staff also observed: "We are posed to further position the troupe as the most significant performing arts institution in the country, as a research and resource based institution, which thrives on original and authentic cultural materials and expressions…as a viable organ for revenue generation and for executing Nigeria’s local and international cultural exchanges and agreement. In attendance were Yerima’s deputy; Mr Martin Adaji, Dr Godwin Nwajei; Assistant Director in charge of Music, Shaibu Husseini; Public Relations Officer and Bisi Ayodele of the Human Resources Department.