By John Owoo
(In Accra – Ghana)
Three national artistic groups last Tuesday opened the 2018 edition of the Ghana Theatre Festival with a magnetic dance drama that evoked nostalgic feelings among elderly members of the audience.
Performing at the National Theatre in Accra, the National Symphony Orchestra and the National Dance / Drama companies sent the crowd on a memorable journey of variated traditional dance pieces, folk tunes and griot like storytelling alongside concert party slants.
Addressing hot button topics such as economy, environment, health, education and other problems facing the country – the groups severally and jointly recalled the intimacy, intricacy, acrimony and spirituality that characterized the country in the past – as subtle movements, loud traditional drums and cool rhythms flowed freely from the stage.
“It was refreshing to see contemporary problems being dramatically fused with those of the past in a traditional setting. “Lantaaba” was powerfully delivered as the directors did not attempt to obscure its meaning” said Nii Ayikwei Aryee, a playwright based in Düsseldorf, Germany.
“Sounds from the symphony orchestra virtually took me back to the 1950s and 60s as it resulted in the recollection of treasured moments. I hope they will record these folk tunes and make them available to the public at an affordable price”, added Kofi Ntiamoah, a young violinist in Accra.
With a distinctive set fashioned out of a stylized baobab tree that linked the past and present, this interdisciplinary performance directed by Nii Tete Yartey / Mawuli Semevor, translated diverse dance forms into a choreography of purpose and energy that swayed an enthusiastic audience.
With lullabies, folk and highlife tunes from the 1960s flowing slowly and crisply from the symphony orchestra conducted by Isaac Annor, the dancers moved in a geometric fashion while sluggishly increasing the complexity of their movements with change in pitch and tones.
Divergence grew into a protracted climax, as one female artist in battle gear goes berserk and attempts to usurp the authority of the rulers while several attempts to thwart her efforts and the other subjects end in failure thereby resulting in a supernatural intervention.
Other events slated for the festival, which forms part of the 25th anniversary celebrations of the National Theatre of Ghana, include film shows, concerts, theatre performances / poetry slams and many more.