Guide Ghanas Concert Party Theatre

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THEA/ENGL 349 Colgate University
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Indeed, one could argue that the methodology of historical performance ethnography has much more veracity and persuasiveness than the written archive, which in the case of the concert party can barely testify to the existence of this theatre form at all, much less its centrality to transforming public consciousness. Experiencing a concert party of the troupe style that developed in the s and continues through today is like riding an old-fashioned. Download sample.

Skip to content. Cole " He likened cooperation between black and white races to the harmony achieved through black and white keys hachured line. The theatre employs […] creative and aesthetic elements which appeal to the auditory, visual, verbal and indeed all the human senses and are aimed at arousing intense emotion in the audience It has to be noted that the Concert Party itself has been greatly influenced by aesthetic elements drawn from indigenous theatre—from Ghanaian festivals, traditional dances and music, the different expressions of poetic and prose traditions such as libations, panegyric, dirges, proverbs, riddles etc.

Today, the Concert Party remains the most enduring art form in Ghana drawing large crowds of sophisticated theatre-goers and ordinary people, young and old.

GHANA key soap concert party--who is who 2000--comedian ecomog

Its form and enactment may have been tempered by time and technology, yet it remains a very vibrant Ghanaian heritage. The establishment of Arts centres in Accra and Kumasi, christened Anansekrom from Ananse folklore and Anokyekrom from the legend of Okomfo Anokye respectively, as well as the National Theatre in Accra in , has in a great measure defined an enduring institutional framework for propagating the Ghanaian heritage through theatre.

It is from the above background that the contemporary Ghanaian video industry has, to a large extent, evolved—a transposition and transformation of the old into new artistic forms and expressions through modern technology. These influences are evident in many forms. These include, among others, casting, scripting and language. These have retained their Concert Party stage-names or nicknames. These actors and actresses, well known for their roles as jokers in Concert Party performances, have, wittingly or unwittingly, carried these characteristics into movies. They are usually assigned such roles.

However, they have often reduced every role to a jocular one, which is a hallmark of the Concert Party tradition. These actors and actresses also carry with them the crudity and penchant for playing to the gallery, which often characterizes Concert Party performances. This is no problem, however, for the Concert Parties. There is ample room for improvisation and extemporaneity; the plots evolve from sketches and flimsy synopses, and once roles are assigned, the actors and actresses fill in the rest.

From my research, it is evident that this has been carried over into Ghanaian movies. Film producers do not engage the services of professional script writers—if they exist at all. The only difference is that, whereas in the Concert Party tradition, the same story could take on different artistic complexions during performances, film is frozen in time and place. Kumawood has effectively supplanted the Concert Party, and, as earlier indicated, its main medium is Twi, an Akan dialect.

The influence of Akan as the dominant Ghanaian language in Kumawood video-movies, especially those dominated by actors and actresses with a close link to the Concert Party tradition, also has its origins in the Concert Party. Before the emergence of Kumawood, a large percentage of the Ghanaian video-films, running side-by- side with the English-medium ones, were in Akan—they came in Akan titles; dialogues were either entirely in Akan or interspersed with code-switching, code-mixing and pidgin. Initially, no attempts were made to reach out to a wider viewership outside the Akan linguistic circle.

Later, sub-titling had been employed to bridge that gap.

Ghanaian Theater

Unfortunately, the sub-titles did very little for the benefit of viewers who are not competent in Akan due to the terribly bad grammar, malapropism and transliterations which had become the hallmark of the translations. Often, the sub-titles rather inadvertently functioned as comic reliefs and side-tracked viewers from the episodes they purported to illuminate, as viewers struggled to come to terms with the bad English translations or interpretations. The dominance of Akan is a direct carry-over from the Concert Party tradition where Akan is more or less the lingua franca, to the extent that even non-Akan actors and actresses are forced to function in the Akan medium.

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Ghana's Concert Party Theatre: - Lib

Indeed, in most productions, there is a long-standing tradition of poking fun at Ewes and Northerners who are projected as incompetent users of the Akan language. Thus, whereas in Nigeria there are many productions in Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa Larkin ; Adamu , in Ghana, with the emergence of Kumawood, Akan is the main or only medium used in indigenous productions.

Without doubt, films in Akan are far more popular than those in English simply because they are a carry-over from popular theatre, targeted at that massive constituency of patrons which includes peasants, market women, semi-literates and children for whom an indigenous language in any narrative context is closer to them linguistically. Secondly, the actors and actresses, mainly semi-literates, are more comfortable and able to articulate themselves better in Akan than English, which is seen as a handicap.

Kumawood, with its local language medium, may be popular, since it draws extensively on popular culture, occultism and fantasy Meyer , close to Anansesem Ananse folktales , but not everyone is enthused about its content and quality. Consequently, Kumawood productions are frowned upon by film critics and middle-class and elite viewers as embarrassing and amateurish.

They are also ignored in the annual Ghana Movie Awards, which itself has been mired in controversy over the years for lack of direction and professionalism. From the mids all the way to the s, Ghana Television had succeeded in transmitting and projecting drama onto the screen. The Osofo Dadzie group set the pace, followed by the Obra and Daakye groups, all of which were Akan drama troupes drawing on the traveling theatre or folk drama tradition.

It must be emphasized that, like the Concert Party drama of old, these modern-day dramatic forms had succeeded in holding the mirror to national consciousness in terms of contemporary discourses. Again, like the Concert Party, they functioned as folk satires designed to make Ghanaians laugh at themselves and to inform, educate and entertain. They were especially designed for people in the countryside but had nonetheless enjoyed wide patronage across the social spectrum.

For the educated elite, Thursday Theatre, aired on Thursday nights, was highly patronized due to its high quality in terms of production and acting. Television projected these groups of performers, expanded the frontiers of their visibility and sharpened their performing skills.

Television transformed the performance culture by easing and taking away much of the encumbrances and hazards of the traveling theatre, without necessarily cutting the performers away from their constituencies. Thus, like the traveling theatre, the television screens brought the drama to the doorsteps of many patrons. However, with the advent of video, the indigenous drama troupes, particularly the Akan-based ones, and the Thursday Theatre groups, made a quick transition to the big screen. Once they embarked on that path, TV became more or less irrelevant as a platform for projecting dramatic performances.

For the indigenous drama troupes, old productions were quickly rehashed and extended into full-length movies with a wider cast and setting. The Thursday Theatre actors and actresses, on the other hand, quickly metamorphosed into local movie stars, in their own small ways, almost rivaling the Hollywood icons.

One major way in which these influences are felt is the gradual seepage of explicit eroticism and nudity into Ghanaian movies.

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Over the ages, erotic art has featured in many cultures, including African culture. Especially in the Western world, the theme of illicit, carnal, erotic love provided inspiration for artistic expression. Some of the images were unabashedly vulgar and lurid in their portrayal of licentiousness.

However, as Wolk-Simon asserts, most of these drawings, paintings and objects were made for private rather than public consumption. In recent times, the spread of technology and cultural permissiveness means there are now larger spaces and mediums for the consumption of these images. The critical literature on eroticism in art has adopted different approaches. From the feminist aesthetic perspective especially, critics argue that the erotic in art is mostly about the power and supremacy [of men] over women.

It is seen as culturally and artistically inappropriate and alien since in the Ghanaian performance tradition, as in oral narratives, sex is artistically masked or couched in euphemistic and symbolist language.

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One could hazard a guess that independent European or Neorealist cinema, rather than Hollywood, has influenced Ghallywood in the expression of sex and sexuality. This influence comes from the many Mexican and Venezuelan romantic soap operas that now dominate Ghanaian TV screens. These soap operas which invariably depict extended explicit erotic scenes including nudity and love- making, and showcase beautiful young women and flamboyant young men, have become attractive as motifs and blindly mimicked and experimented with in Ghanaian movies.

More to the point, they harp on the commercial viability of films with steamy erotic and sexual scenes which, they argue, inure to box-office successes. A : What does nudity and sex mean to you in terms of being used as an art form? Leila Djansi L. D : Nudity is a form of expression. It is a storytelling tool. A: Nudity and sex are new to movies that are distributed in Ghana. Why do you think both are new to movies in Ghana? What has taken Ghanaian filmmakers so long to incorporate them in their films? The richness of theatre in Africa lies very much in the interaction of all these aspects of performance.

The broad subheadings under which theatre in Africa is considered should, therefore, be seen as an aid to access rather than as representing definite boundaries. This article aims to sketch the broadest patterns of work and highlight some landmarks in dealing with the extensive continentwide theatrical activity. The countries of Ghana , Nigeria , and Sierra Leone and to a lesser extent The Gambia , plus the English-speaking areas of Cameroon , have produced a theatre of great richness since their political independence.

They are examined individually below. Throughout the article, dates in parentheses are dates of publication rather than first performance, except where noted. Foriwa first performed and Edufa first performed dealt with political issues relevant to the challenges of independence.


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The Marriage of Anansewa is a witty but still politically relevant comedy in a form she described as anansegoro —that is to say, the creation in dramatic form of anansesem , the stories about Ananse the spider man, trickster , and entertainer. Sutherland was active as a director and created the Ghana Drama Studio in Accra to explore traditional performance spaces and styles.

She is also known for plays she wrote for children such as Vulture! Aidoo, also a poet and novelist, wrote only two plays, The Dilemma of a Ghost and Anowa Both, however, are works of great stature. The Dilemma of a Ghost is concerned with the arrival in Africa of a black American woman married to a Ghanaian and the struggle she has in coming to terms with her cultural past and with her new home. An unspoken but powerful presence in the play is the legacy of slavery , a theme that is more fully explored in Anowa.

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That play—based on a legendary source concerning a beautiful young woman who marries a handsome stranger—is a remarkable exploration of Ghanaian history, both colonial and postcolonial, with a powerful indictment of the temptations to which contemporary politicians succumb. With those two plays Aidoo established herself as a major presence in African theatre. In the s de Graft moved to teach in East Africa , where he wrote and produced his play Muntu Those plays variously concern themselves with the tensions and temptations of modern urban life.

Another important Ghanaian playwright is Mohammed Ben-Abdallah. Concert Party theatre complemented the literary theatre with its particular kind of social commentary and its inventive use of both traditional and modern forms of entertainment.