By John Owoo
(In Accra – Ghana)
Theatre lovers in Accra including the US ambassador to Ghana Stephanie S. Sullivan recently defied torrential rains to see the performance of “Chains and Shackles”, a play written by Nii Ayi Solomon as part the maiden edition of Agrobi Theatre Festival.
The festival, which was hosted by the Alliance Française in Accra, celebrated recent Ghanaian theatre productions and displayed student talent in diverse areas while providing a boost for theatre, which has witnessed a dramatic resurgence in recent years.
It was refreshing to see this genre of play coming from a young writer, who clearly did his homework with “Chains and Shackles” as regards to dialogues and general chats among a huge family that had a rather hilarious living before the arrival of slave traders.
Directed by Woelinam Dziewornu-Norvor, the play tapped deep into history revealing in the process a Ghanaian village that was full of life, vitality with close knit families enjoying a harmonious existence, which was brutally shattered by Portuguese slave dealers.
Accompanied by traditional drummers, flutists, seperewa players and recorded music, the National Dance Ensemble restructured diverse Ghanaian traditions and culture, which was transformed into a brilliant choreography that was presented by skillful dancers and musicians.
With a cool mixture of subtle and swift movements, the dancers conveyed a secret language of gesture where trained bodies offered varied constructions of femininity, masculinity and neutrality thereby revealing the complexity and diversity of our lives as Ghanaians.
Indeed, all the dancers capably performed with full energy throughout the show, which was choreographed by Nene Narh Hargoe. Language did run through their bodies amidst gesture-like utterances and speech-like rhythms that captured the attention of the audience.
Set in a remote village, “Karoo Moose”, which was directed by Dr. Ekua Ekumah together with Dr. Sarah Dorgbadzi depicted trials and tribulations of a young girl as it forcefully revealed attacks on the innocence of many young girls. Interspersed with refreshing drumming and dancing, the story of a girl violently ushered into womanhood unfolded with despair.
Written by the award winning South African playwright Lara Foot Newton and performed by the Department of Theatre Arts Ensemble, University of Ghana, the play, employed the use of techniques that ensured a smooth flowing drama that drew attention to a canker that is constantly on the rise.
Agrobi Theatre Festival 2019 was sponsored by the French Embassy in Accra, Institut Français Ghana, Alliance Francaise Accra, Accra City Hotel, Ibis Styles Hotel, Bollore, Societe Generale Ghana, Wigal and Decathlon.