One of the landmarks in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, which will always remain the cynosure of all eyes for years to come, is the Gloryland Cultural Centre (GCC) complex. It is an edifice that will stand its ground anywhere in the world of the theatre. With the provision for a gallery audience, the auditorium of the complex could accommodate well over 2,500 persons.
Situated at Hospital Road Junction, Ovom – Yenagoa, which is in the City Centre, it is located on the very site of the former one initiated by Navy Capt. Olubolade’s Administration. His Excellency, Chief DSP Alamieyeseigha ordered the demolition of that structure, as structural engineers contracted to test the solidity of the building submitted that it was a death trap. ENCON Associates Ltd handled the present structure, with finishing by the erstwhile Special Projects Ministry, under Mr. Reuben Okoya.
However, as the end users, the management of the Council followed the construction work with keen interest, making inputs to ensure that the necessary facilities were in place. These include the provision of a lighting booth (which was not in the original design); stage design; wiring the building in line with professional theatre requirements; fittings for standing unit air conditioners; the lighting grid and the catwalk. This was to avoid any complication in the design and construction work, as we expressed our desire to have the most modern facilities in the complex.
With the completion of the ultra-modern Gloryland Cultural Centre, the Bayelsa State Troupe is repositioning its operations in order to put the place into effective use. This should enable the Council to practice theatre with greater ease and efficiency.
VIDEO FILM PRODUCTION
A prelude to the council embarking on the production of video films appears to the production of the video film version of one of Barclays Ayakoroma’s plays, Castles in the Air. The Bayelsa State Troupe premiered this play on September 30, 2002, as part of activities marking the 6th Anniversary Celebrations of the Creation of Bayelsa State.
The command performance of Castles in the Air on September 30, 2002, as directed by Barclays Ayakoroma, featured an array of stars from the Bayelsa State Troupe, and the dramatic experience thrilled the audience. The movie version of Castles in the Air (titled N40 Million Wahala) stars Sam Loco Efe, Sunday Omobolanle (a.k.a Papi Luwe), Chuks Oparaocha, Ifure Ufford, Frances Nsonwu, Joy Dandison and Francis Omoh. Our own Amassoma-born Charles Biriabebe is the Director of Photography, while Erica Ezewu of Mutez Production is the producer.
Venturing into video film productions would not only project and promote the rich culture of Bayelsa State, and at the same time, it will be a widow for artists of the state origin to break into the industry. This is has improved the economic base of Enugu State, to the extent that the Enugu State Government is working seriously towards building a Film Village. This, no doubt, would generate employment and revenue for the state annually.
Currently, pre-production planning is on for three video film scripts: Barclays Ayakoroma’s Dance on his Grave, popularly known in Bayelsa State as, "Close your legs, kpaam!" Simon Ambakederemo’s Isaac Boro, and Ineye Johnny-Dudafa’s “Mangrove in the Desert.” The major contacts have been made already for Dance on his Grave, and if funds are made available, the shoot should take place in the shortest possible time. The production plan starts with Dance on his Grave because the story is captivating; it is straightforward; it is without complex technical demands; and it would be easier to shoot. Once it is successful, realizing the other film projects would be a foregone conclusion.
The 22nd National Festival for Arts & Culture (NAFEST 2008) took place in Enugu, Enugu State from October 4 – 12, 2008. The National Council for Arts & Culture organizes this festival every year, in collaboration with the various States’ Councils for Arts & Culture and History & Culture Bureaux. Popularly called the “Unity Forum,” the 2008 edition drew participation from about 32 states of the Federation and Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.
Coming before the 4th edition of the Abuja Carnival, NAFEST 2008 was a rallying point for the projection of the rich cultural heritage and potentials of Bayelsa State. The highlights of the gains of NAFEST 2008 are as follows:
It projected Bayelsa State Troupe once again at the Unity Forum
The Council continued in its bid to promote the Arts & Crafts by mounting an Exhibition at the State Pavilion
Bayelsa State won the 1st prize in Traditional Wrestling at the festival
The Bayelsa State entry also won the 1st prize in Indigenous Music and Dance
Bayelsa State also won the 3rd prize in the Children’s Moonlight Games; and
The Bayelsa State Troupe emerged the Overall 2nd position at the end of the festival.
Our activities during the festival also received adequate coverage from reputable national newspapers: The Guardian, Nigerian Tribune, Daily Sun, and Daily Independent, among others.
Click here to see NAFEST 2008 photo album…
A cardinal point in the mission of Dr. Ayakoroma is international exposure for the Bayelsa State Troupe. Somehow, the precursor to the fulfilment of this vision was the invitation of the Egbelegbele Cultural Troupe of Amassoma to feature in the 2002 Tianjin International Children’s Festival in China.
However, the vision was given expression when the Ijaw Peoples’ Association of Great Britain & Ireland organised the 1st Late Major Isaac Boro Commemoration Day in London. The event took place on Saturday, June 18, 2005, at the Acton Town Hall, London East. The Bayelsa State Troupe was invited to perform at that auspicious event. The Troupe also had a public performance at the Ensign Youth Club, East London.
In September 2006, the Bayelsa State Troupe was in Paris, France, and performed at the UNESCO Hall, on the occasion of the Nigerian Cultural Day in France. The performance was at the instance of the Nigerian Embassy in France in association with the Nigerian In Diaspora Organisation (NIDO France).
Click to view photo album of the London and Paris Tours…
LANDMARKS IN THE HISTORY OF THE TROUPE
The Bayelsa State Troupe has made serious impact through its participation in numerous national and international events in the last few years. Some of such performance engagements include the following:
National Festival of Arts & Culture (NAFEST 2002), which took place in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. Won Gold in Senior Category in Traditional Wrestling.
National Festival of Arts & Culture (NAFEST 2003), which held in Owerri, Imo State. Won Silver in Junior Category in Traditional Wrestling.
Command Performance of “Battle Royale” by Barclays Ayakoroma and Jethro Freeborn, at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGOM 2003) in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, in Dec. 2003.
National Festival of Arts & Culture (NAFEST 2004), which held in Kaduna, Kaduna State. Won Gold in both Senior and Junior Categories in Traditional Wrestling.
Performance at the 1st Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA), hosted by the Bayelsa State Government at the Gloryland Cultural Centre, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, in April 2005.
Grand Performance at the Late Major Isaac Adaka Jasper Boro Memorial Day Celebration in London in July-Aug. 2005
National Festival of Arts & Culture (NAFEST 2005), which held in Abeokuta, Ogun State. Won Gold in Senior Category in Traditional Wrestling and Overall 3rd Position in the Drama Choral and Dance Competitions in the Fiesta.
The 1st Abuja Carnival, which held in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory in November 2005. Placed Second in the Boat Regatta Event.
Hosted the National Festival of Arts & Culture (NAFEST 2006), Yenagoa, Bayelsa State. Competitions Aborted because of a Military Plane Crash.
Grand Performance at the UNESCO Hall in Paris, on the Occasion of the 1st Nigerian Cultural Week in France in Sept. 2006. Organised by the Embassy of Nigeria in France and Nigerians In Diaspora Organisation (NIDO-France).
Command Performance of Barclays Ayakoroma’s Dance on his Grave, alias “close your legs kpaam,” as part of activities marking the Festival of Nigerian Theatre Arts (FESTINA 2006), which took place at the National Theatre, Iganmu-Lagos, in November 2006.
The 2nd Abuja Carnival, which held in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory in November 2006. Won Gold in the Boat Regatta Event.
Performance at the 2nd Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA), hosted by the Bayelsa State Government at the Gloryland Cultural Centre, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, in April 2007.
National Festival of Arts & Culture (NAFEST 2007), which held in Makurdi, Benue State. Won Overall Best Colourful Costumes in the Cultural Parade, Choral Presentation, and Cultural Dance.
Performance at the Late Major Isaac Adaka Jasper Boro Memorial Day Celebration in London in Sept. 2007.
The 3rd Abuja Carnival, which held in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory in November 2007. Placed Second in the Boat Regatta Event.
Performance at the African Women in Leadership Conference in London in Dec. 2007.
National Festival of Arts & Culture (NAFEST 2008), which held in Enugu, Enugu State. Won 1st position in Wrestling, 1st position in Indigenous Music & Dance, 3rd position in Children’s Moonlight Games, and Overall 3rd position at the Fiesta.
There is a saying that seeing is believing. It is when one sees what the Bayelsa State Troupe can do that he/she would be in a better position to appreciate the talents of the artists. We believe that the troupe needs the necessary encouragement towards the realisation of the collective goals exporting the rich Ijaw cultural heritage.
In the theatre, we are conscious of the fact that the production process is a collective pregnancy. This is to the extent that all hands must be on deck to actualize any given production. Until there is a good performance before a good audience, there are always moments of anxiety or uncertainty by all involved. This underpins the position that the enabling environment (or atmosphere) is invaluable in order for artistes to achieve a good performance before a good audience.
While the management of the Council is trying to make effective use of the available human and material resources, the financial resources are not very much in our favor. However, we see this medium as a window through which philanthropists and lovers of the arts could promote the Bayelsa State Troupe. We see this as the dawn of a new era for professionalism to thrive in the arts and culture sector in Bayelsa State.
Our people say when you see a bird dancing on a bush path, know that what is drumming for it is in the nearby bush. With the journey so far, we foresee purposeful development for the Arts & Culture industry in Bayelsa State, globally. We could indeed stamp our identity in the global cultural scene, in no distant time.