After an involuntary hiatus from stage, the National Troupe of Nigeria under the watch of the new Artistic Director, Ahmed Mohammed Ahmed staged a folk musical drama for the Christmas season titled ‘Strings’ at Terra Kulture, Lagos. The troupe is tour-ready, says Yinka Olatunbosun
The Command performance for Strings kicked off with an intriguing opening scene: an old man in white beard narrating the story of Frederick and Flora Lugard, the symbolic parents of the Nigerian state in 1914. That old man, Soibifaa Dokubo is a pioneer member of the National Troupe, established in 1991. For almost six years, the National Troupe had not staged a drama for Christmas. Hence, the spirit of festivity in the air last week at the Terra Kulture stage was buoyed by the perceivable change that the new theatre administrators have brought.
The metaphoric play was built on the plot of the colonial parents whose foster baby -Nigeria-attains maturity in 1960 but still has to contend with all the challenges of adulthood and middle age. Drawing upon folk songs, multi-cultural dances, the well-lit stage created ample picture perfect moments for the cast clad in beautiful traditional attires. The strength of the play lies in the spectacle amplified by good lighting details as well as the themes of shared humanity and nationality. But like most propaganda drama, the story does not soak in the audience because of its heavy rhetoric as against normal everyday dialogue. But then again, the orchestra provided a fantastic medley of folk songs to accompany ekombi, ilaje and other cultural dances.
Written and directed by Mike Anyanwu, ‘Strings’ as a national drama is tour-ready within and outside Nigeria. The play which was first performed at the National Theatre, Iganmu marks the end of the 2021 productions season for the troupe.
“I feel excited, elated that the National Troupe is coming back again’’Artistic Director/CEO – National Troupe of Nigeria, Alhaji Ahmed Mohammed Ahmed
He admitted that the spirit of the artists was quite low when he resumed in April this year. But with concerted efforts, the National Troupe has been moved from its previous state of slumber to unleash talents.
The National Troupe must also gear up to use arts to address those national issues. We are not just entertainers; we are economic workers. That’s what we have done with this play. The strings drama is bringing back the history of Nigeria to ensure that tomorrow is better than today.The CEO said.