Published On: Wed, Aug 24th, 2016

In the first quarter of 2016!

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FROM THE LIVE STAGE with Patrick-Jude Oteh

0803 700 0496, 0805 953 5215 (SMS only)

This has been belated in coming; kindly bear with us.
We ended the year 2015 on very difficult terms but we are happy that we were able to pull through to 2016 however; we are still faced with more challenging times ahead. Planning has become more difficult in a terrain of uncertainties and difficulties. The economic terrain has been the most frightening with our Naira struggling, straining and heaving against the Dollar. The attendant fuel crisis has been the second most frightening aspect of our existence. For some weird reasons, the fuel crisis has simply refused to abate and we are all confounded. Power has been another confounding reason but despite all these, we are still here. And we intend to be here for the long term.
All of these have had very dire consequences on the arts. We have missed a festival in Prague to which we were invited and we could not raise our own part of the funding, we have had to cancel the annual Jos Festival of Theatre 2016 due to the same reasons – we were able to raise some money but it was merely a quarter of our festival budget. The complaints have been the same – no money!
My argument since the last quarter of 2015 has been that these present times require the arts more. It is in times of difficulties, in times when we are in need of explanations, when we are in need of uplifting; these are the times when people resort to the arts to find a meaning, to find expression, to find happiness and to seek for reasons beyond the immediate. These are times when the arts speak for us. We all currently and urgently need those moments which offer us escape from the reality of times that we can hardly explain.
In the course of the last couple of months, I have been asked – what is the relationship between bread and the arts? – A lot! It is only the arts that offer us the needed booster and confidence in times of crisis. But we continue to lose sight of this because we continue to look for the income generating aspect of the arts and when this fails, we argue that the arts are not useful. We are wrong.
We will continue to create and thrive beyond these trying times. But we will need help and lots of it in the coming months!
In April, specifically on Wednesday 20th April, we will premiere the stage adaptation of Cervantes’ Rinconete and Cortadillo as part of the activities for World Book Day courtesy of the Embassy of Spain. It is the story of two young men who in their search for livelihood end up in the den of thieves which they join. It would be interesting to find out how they end up.
In October/November, we will perform Wole Soyinka’s Death and the King’s Horseman in Abuja. The mounting of an annual major production is one which we started last year and which we hope to sustain funds willing in the coming years.
We wish you all the very best for 2016. Despite the challenges, despite the uncertainties, despite the angst in the land, we will triumph. Please add the arts to your yearly calendar of events as you plan and project for the remaining part of 2016.
On the move
Perhaps it is time we all sold our cars to buy petrol! A friend of mine recently went to the NNPC mega station to buy fuel. Someone gave him a coupon to go and collect fuel. He left home at 4am and by 8pm, the only fuel that he was able to get was his car being bashed and several floggings of the koboko by gun wielding security men who man all the entrances and exits not because they are concerned with the orderly conduct of lesser citizens but because for them it is a new line of income stream. They allow the people with bigger clouts and bigger convoys through but others have to pay. Who says we lack ingenuity in our conduct? So after a very bitter day at the queue, his coupon now made nonsense of, he went back home, packed his car and he has been moving around with keke NAPEP ever since. For this daring move, he will have lesser grey hairs in the days ahead.

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