If you love plays like I do then you probably know about Shakespeare. Even if you don’t love plays but have studied literature you must know Shakespeare. Shakespeare’s legacy in literature and drama is incomparable.
Born in 1564, he has survived centuries of many plays, drama, poetry and literary pieces to become the number one playwright of all time. Shakespeare is also known as the father of English drama. His works include Hamlet, the famous Romeo and Juliet, Midsummer Night’s Dream, the Merchant of Venice. There are many more. What makes him the greatest playwright of all time is obvious. The impact of this Englishman is felt all over the world and I cannot remember any literature course or drama school who will build a syllabus without including some of his works in the study list.
It is good to celebrate Shakespeare but here in Ghana how do we celebrate and support our own playwrights. Ghana’s playwright and dramatists need to be supported. We have to celebrate pioneering playwrights like Ama Ata Aidoo, Mohammed Ben Abdallah, Asiedu Yirenkyi, Efua Sutherland and many others. There are many but the challenge is the visibility and support we give them. The truth is there are many young playwrights churning out snippets of dramas all over the places. The University of Ghana’s School of Performing Arts and the Ghana Association of Writers (GAW) has all the records.
The fact is, it is very expensive to produce plays but not many appreciate that. Playwrights like Ebo White have gradually won their way into the heart of Ghanaians but through a difficult long journey and today many are gradually acquiring the taste for theater. Kudos to Ebo Whyte for his hard work, perseverance and creativity leading to the resurrection of theater arts in Ghana.
Having congratulated Ebo Whyte for doing very well in getting Ghana back to Theater arts it is worthy to state that one of the many bright stars in the local drama scene today, is Nii Commey. He is a genius and given the chance he will become a very great playwright. If you haven’t watched any of his plays then you are missing a lot.
Nii Commey is a quiet young man who has a strong passion for theater and communications. He appears to be shy but it is amazing the things that he does with words. His works include Romantic Nonsense, Je m’apelle Romance, Judas Iscariot is in town, Eclipse of the heart, Mummy’s Dimples and Pimples and many others. He was recently adjudged the best Theater and Arts winner in the maiden Under Forties Achievers Award.
I watched his recent production titled “Skirts and Suits” and l totally loved it. The name suggests it all. It is about Corporate Women and how they juggle through their work on a daily basis.
I regretted not taking my girls to watch the play. Although they are young, they would have taken some great lessons from it. It was impossible to take them because I travelled for a funeral and drove straight into the National Theater. I was so tired after travelling for close to five hours from the Ashanti region but I was determined to watch it.
At the time I got to the National Theater, the place was packed full and had to be squeezed into some empty seats in the front row.
As soon as I got in I couldn’t leave. Indeed, my intention was to leave at a point because of my exhaustion from the trip and the fact that there was church to attend the next morning. It was pure non-stop comedy, intelligently interlaced with proverbs, music and poetry. The story reinforces why women have to resist the bait of men who want to take advantage of them at work. It had a lot of lessons on the need for excellent customer care, improved interpersonal and communications skills. It portrays how sexual harassment is used to frustrate women and shows good and bad work practices. The production captures the fun of working in an open office and the challenges of coping with people with different personalities.
The cast was seven in number– three women and four men. Never mind the small number, the word was delivered excellently and their roles suited them. They did so well I couldn’t pick my favorite actor. The venue and costume were just fine. The fact is- the play was so enjoyable, it was difficult for me to notice any flaws.
I really enjoy every single play from Nii Commey and I wish him well as he works his way into the hearts of Ghanaians. It is a big challenge getting financial support for theater work in Ghana but I am very confident that very soon he will be well accepted and supported. I really look forward to his next play but whilst he works on that I wouldn’t mind watching “Skirts and Blouses” all over again.
To every Ghanaian and especially decision makers, I think the time is overdue for us to begin to make real investments in the arts. We must as a matter of urgency work towards exploiting the full potential of the industry. Who knows, we may discover another Shakespeare.