The unquantifiable relevance of school theatre plays in Nigerian universities are glaringly evident unfortunately, it remains untapped by Nollywood.
In Nigerian universities, theatre plays are not just exhibitions of craft and storytelling. It has evolved to become a significant tradition in the Arts departments across higher institutions. These plays centre on African folklore, legendary tales, and stories that reflect on history, promote cultural heritage and also deliver moral criticisms to society. Considering these elements are supposed to be the founding pillars of Nollywood, there should be a functioning symbiosis between Nollywood and the Theatre and Art departments across the country; One that will jointly soar African stories and filmmaking to greater heights and international acclaim.
But how can these two sectors work together? How can the educational system benefit Nollywood? And how can Nollywood benefit students who are acting prodigies in return? Here are two ways.
Training and discovery of young actors and actresses
Unlike television, theatre entails additional raw, unfiltered and authentic performances that are scarce on the big screen.
In most cases, these on-stage performances are more engaging than the ones that win awards on screen. In the NFL, scouts go around schools all season recruiting the best student-players to come to play for their clubs. Nollywood should adopt this same method of recruitment, so these brilliant and talented student-actors can receive professional workshops, and gain adequate production experience to transition into the film industry.
Source of inspiration for movies
At a time when cultural diversity has become a buzzword in Hollywood, it is crucial that Nollywood ride on this wave. School theatre plays feature original African stories that are scarce in mainstream media; Thus consultation and partnership between Nigerian theatre performers, playwrights, student actors should be done so more authentic black stories can penetrate the box office.
Remember this relationship is a symbiotic one, meaning, just as Nollywood benefits school theatre and vice-versa. Knowing that a prominent industry is entirely involved in their academic activities, students will be compelled to put more effort into their performances considering a chance to have a break in Nollywood is not far off.
School theatre is a goldmine of acting talents, unique stories and Emmy worthy performances yet to be untapped. If Nollywood is determined to be truly big, it has to remain home. One of the measures key players in Nollywood must make is to ensure it utilizes all its domestic resources and that involves theatre across all academic tiers. The treasures of theatre deserve to be used for more than academic assessments and can contribute to the greatness of African cinema. With proper execution, this move will definitely enhance the quality of films and performances at all decks of filmmaking.
What is there to lose?