THEATRE IN NIGERIA: A CONSIDERATION OF THE SCENOGRAPHIC, TECHNOLOGICAL AND ARCHITECTURAL ELEMENTS

Author: Aborisade, James Olusola

Supervisor: Dapo Adelugba

'Theatre Arts' is essentially a visual arts discipline in which the elements of architecture, scenography and technology play very significant roles. However, these areas and aspects have suffered neglect, in the past, in the arena of Nigerian scholarship. Consequently, the present study aims at a historico-critical evaluation, analysis and documentation of the development and functions in the contemporary Nigerian theatre, as witnessed especially in and at Ibadan in the past twelve decades in broad terms and since 1948 (the founding year of the University of Ibadan) in particular. If there was in the pastan authentic African (especially Nigerian) theatre, then there ought to have been a corresponding typical and unique African theatre performance space form. Therefore there is a need to rediscover that form. But if the traditional African-particularly Nigerian theatre had had no unique and typical performance stage or space form, other than the village square, market place and the Kings' palaces, then it has to be accepted that the modern (present-day) architectural theatre forms of Africa and in particular of Nigeria have been imposed or have evolved from the cross currents of contacts with Western civilization and foreign influences and, therefore, they are basically foreign and of non- African origin. Consequently, the present search for a new theatre form, architecturally, would yield better results if the merger of the traditional and western modern architecture employing modern technology in equipping them to achieve flexibility, adaptability and timelessness could be pursued. In order to achieve that, what one has to do now is to critically examine the functionality of the present spaces and modify or refurbish them to suit the demands of the contemporary Nigerian theatre. However, most ideal would be the conception, design and realisation of new structures along the lines of new and long attested aesthetic principles and the results of technological researches arising from age-old experiments, new aspirations, current trends and future speculations. Since the arts and the sciences have always been the bedrock of human spiritual, psychological and economic development, and since technology has always aided the attainment of socio-political growth, technology, borrowed or developed, invented or transferred, has a great role to play in the development of Nigerian theatre. Hence, the investigation of its impact in the Nigerian theatre is a necessary and perhaps an inevitable task. The objects of the study are contained in an Introduction covering the purpose, scope, limitation, Overview of Literature, Methodology and Definition of Terms: while the findings in the three respective areas are presented in nine Chapters. Chapters One to Three contain review of literature, overviews of studies and projects in the three areas of study. Chapters Four and Five present, in chronological order, the historical development of theatre in Europe, America, Asia and Africa, especially Nigeria. Chapter Six looks at the genesis of theatre education, scholarship and practice, especially in the western world and recommends a model of training and desirable lines for the future development of theatre in Nigeria. Chapter Seven considers concepts and aesthetics of theatre arts forms and styles and relates these to the contemporary Nigerian theatrical endeavours, especially in the scenographic spheres. Chapter Eight treats the analysis, scenographic and technological executions of the production of the selected illustrative plays. Chapter Nine pursues the search for new physical theatre forms in their various parameters for Nigeria and examines the present state of the physical theatre structures and venues in and at Ibadan. The thesis sees architecture, scenography and technology as prime levers of the development of theatre arts in Nigeria.