A wedlock of theatre, nature at Shodex Garden
A new art, music, dance and everything else theatre world has been unveiled at Shodex Garden Park, Anthony, Lagos. The new theatre, which aims to bring theatre performances closer to the people, is an arm of Shodex Beautification Landmark limited.
The theatre was unveiled last week amidst applause from theatre practitioners, actors, and authors, among others. A mini workshop session held to usher in the theatre had ‘Community Theatre as a Tool for Economy and Social Development’ as theme. Practitioners deliberated on how community theatre can bring about attitudinal change and create jobs.
According to the Managing Director of the new theatre, Mr. Olusola Adekoya, the idea is not to move from the garden and beautification business, which he’s known for, to theatre but to marry them together, adding, “There is no way you can dissociate garden from the theatre. So, having a theatre performance in a serene and beautiful environment like Shodex Garden showcases the quality of theatrical prowess that Nigeria is endowed with in a very natural atmosphere.
“We decided to do something like this in the mainland, especially in a garden, so that people will not only enjoy performances but also enjoy a beautiful environment that has the presence of nature. Most of our culture is dying gradually; so, we need to put it together in order to sustain and leave a legacy for our children and generations to come. That is why we are doing this and we are going to replicate it in other states so that the Nigerian culture can be preserved.
“We’ve been planning the project for almost six months but it was conceived long ago and now it has come to stay. Performances here are going to be very frequent once all the arrangement is completed, especially taking into cognizance how important it is now to drive the economy and also to promote socio-cultural investment and also to showcase to the world that Nigeria is very rich in art and culture.
“This is the first time we are doing this in an open garden. So, we’re going to look at how we can modify it and how we can improve on our performances.”
President, National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners (NANTAP), Israel Eboh, who was accompanied by Chairman, NANTAP, Lagos Chapter, Makinde Adeniran, and other members, said, “With our association recognising the relevance of the community to the world of theatre, we have put in place a measure to make sure everyone knows about what we are doing. The idea is to take theatre to the people.”
While also calling for more attention to be given to community theatre, he said, “at some point, theatre flourished because practitioners took theatre to the people. In the process, many got to know about their work and recognise the beauty of theatre. But when theatre moved from the community to National Theatre, we needed a lot of money to attract audience to see what we do – money for publicity, to pay for very expensive hall, among others. At a time like this, where the economy is so low, there is no money to run the theatre.”
On her part, Vice President, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mrs. Toki Mabogunje, who is also the author of The Duet: An Anthology of Poems and executive producer of The Duet, spoke on ‘Why Community Theatre?’ at the occasion.
According to her, “I wasn’t a happy person when theatre attendance went down in Nigeria. Now, there is a renaissance and people are waking up to the theatre. I am a happy person.
“Community theatre is a very strong tool for affecting people’s mind and behaviour. When we remember people like William Shakespeare, what was his own style of theatre? It was a community theatre. When issues come up in a community, you act it out to show people how they are supposed to respond to certain situations. I really believe theatre could bridge the gap, create employment and affect the mind of people, especially the young ones.
“Community theatre is the best because you can really do it in the neighborhood and affect more people than having shows where only a few people can attend.”
On where the government can come in, Mabogunje said, “Government can come in by providing space. All that artists need is space; you don’t need to take their money. If the government wants to put money in it, fine, but I think if we can have spaces, artists will do the rest. More investment will also have a long way to go in community theatre development.”
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