By John Owoo
(In Accra – Ghana)
Expectations are extremely high when an artistic production involving Prof. Paschal Younge and Prof. Zelma Badu-Younge is about to unfold – and when the production includes other acclaimed artists from Ghana and beyond – the anticipation intensifies.
Consequently, the audience at the National Theatre sit calmly in the totally dark auditorium as they anxiously await the performance of “Agoro” – a charismatic blend of choral / classical music, contemporary / Sufi dance movements and theatre with griot undertones.
Presented by the National Theatre, Azaguno Inc and the Ohio University with Prof. Paschal Younge (composer), Prof. Zelma Badu-Younge (choreographer), Mawuli Semevor (Director of Drama), Isaac Annor (Conductor) and Nii Tete Yartey (Artistic Director), “Agoro” is undeniably an epic production that is deeply focused and grandly beautiful.
With an overall cast of 120 artists from Ghana, Canada and the United States, “Agoro” is simply a brilliant mixture of visual creativity and artistry, indeed an imaginative brand of expressive dances that are set against the well-calculated speed of Sufi inspired movements.
“One successful production after the other – I salute all the artistic directors involved in this project who have surprised us with masterful productions over the past three years. In the process, they have forcefully revealed the power and beauty of cross cultural collaborations”, said Nii Tackie Tawiah, a dancer in Accra.
With contemporaneous compositions by Prof. Paschal Younge, music of tremendous emotional power from the National Symphony Orchestra, Bi-Tonic Singers, National Fire Service Central Band and percussionists from all three countries inundated the auditorium as the audience cheered and applauded.
In a rather tranquil atmosphere, Canadian multi-disciplinary artist Sashar Zarif and five Ghanaian dancers presented a choreographed piece of Sufi rituals (first in a non-religious setting in West Africa) that consisted of poetry, music and Dervish movements, which captivated the audience who sat and watched in utter silence.
With internationally acclaimed artists, academics and students including Dr. Erik Forst, Keith Moone, Dr. Kristofer Olsen, Tom Berich, Gcinile Shongwe and John Meriwether, “Agoro”, equally showcased a cool fusion of indigenous / contemporary Australian, Pan African, South African, Caribbean and American movements and music forms.
Along emotional scenes, late directors of the National Theatre including Prof. N.Z. Nayo, Prof. Komla Amoaku, Prof. F Nii-Yartey and Efo Kojo Mawugbe were honored with a rendition of popular spirituals and compositions that date back to the period of the slave trade.
Enterprise Group, Ohio University, Prestige Hotel, GTP, PGEES Catering and Azaguno Inc. supported the production, which formed part of activities marking the 25th Anniversary of the National Theatre of Ghana.