‘Producers must have roles in society’

VETERAN filmmaker, Bayo Awala, has thrown his lot with interventionist art, noting that Nigerian dramatists should produce advocacy works to boost the nation’s growth.

Speaking at a roundtable themed ‘Drama: A Tool for Economic Development’ commemorating the 50th anniversary of rested television series, ‘Village Headmaster’ on Tuesday at Freedom Park, Lagos Island, Awala said that it is not hard to see that as a nation, Nigeria is in dire straits. He noted that we need to do is grow and develop, primarily through drama.

“Drama itself, over the years, has grown from its mimicry role to becoming a great tool to relate, to direct, to point people in the way forward. So, I believe that we really must key into this assigned role. To claim to be a dramatist, you must assign yourself a role in society. Creativity means that you do things differently. The approach to doing things is crucial to its realisation. If you do not approach anything the right way, you will end up on the wrong side of things,” he said at the session moderated by former Director-General of the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), Danladi Bako.

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Awala further stated that anything that will qualify as a drama must have a theme, and the only way after that is to develop the issue so that it branches into something like entertainment, and enlightenment.

“That is the role that we assign to drama, at least in modern-day terms. And so, drama for socio-economic development is crucial, and unfortunately these days we are not doing it. Drama must be in a way that when seen, it triggers something in you. So, I am saying that as dramatists, a drama of advocacy, drama of propaganda, is the kind of thing that we should be pursuing as a developing nation. I’m amazed that we are on the moon today, but listen, it took the American guys to write out the scenario that took the American government to the moon. Today people are thinking of living on the moon,” he added.

In his contribution, the filmmaker, Femi Odugbemi, said that one of the things causing problems in the creative industry is the gap between old and new practitioners.

“If you look at ‘The Village Headmaster’, you have to ask yourself what is it that was important about it, because we had many other programs as well. You must understand that at that time, there was a tradition in NTA of a specific model for storytelling. There was a foundational philosophical understanding that storytelling is medicine. It can be poison, or it can heal. The difference between what we are doing today, and what we were doing then is ignorance. The truth of the matter is that everybody that worked in NTA back then had the benefit of training. They were not only trained as actors, but they were also trained to understand storytelling,” he said.

The session also featured contributions from artists including Joke Sylva, Dede Mabiaku, Kemi Lala, and Mrs Debra Bazuma. Another ex-DG of the NBC, Dr Chris Kolade, and Professor Duro Oni also attended.

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