Restore theatre traditions to National Theatre to boost patronage, national relevance – Lari Williams

Restore theatre traditions to National Theatre to boost patronage, national relevance - Lari Williams
United Bank for Africa

A veteran theatre practitioner, Lari Williams , has advised the management of the National Theatre to establish a theatre tradition within the complex so that it could continue to contribute its quota to the nation’s economic development.

Williams told Newsverge at the Artistes’ Village in Lagos that to achieve this, boost patronage and the entertainment industry, the theatre should be run by professionals in the industry.

“The National Theatre, being a place of social service to the nation should establish a culture that can move the arts and entertainment industry forward.

“ It should build a theatre tradition for practitioners and this can only be done when we have people who know what it takes to turn around the historic edifice,” he said.

According to Williams, theatre tradition includes the theatre showing programmes that will encourage families and individuals from all walks of life to patronise it.

The National Theatre should organise good plays that would run for months which individuals would book in advance to watch, he said.

“America, England and some other developed countries show plays in their auditoriums for months and years, with people booking in advance.

“Agatha Christy’s ‘Mouth trap’ ran in London theatre for over 50 years.

“The ‘Broadway’ show in America became so popular that it sold out tickets months ahead of the shows, in fact it became too booked.

“Entertainment is currently the leading source of revenue in the developed countries.

“The emphasis should not be on the theatre making money but on what investments are instituted there to make it relevant to national development,” he said.

Williams said the developed countries understood the theatre tradition and they had benefitted so much from it because they had the professionals running the business.

The thespian said that such a tradition could boost investment if the National Theatre management could collaborate with artistes and producers.

People could come from far and near to watch shows at the National theatre as long as they know it would be featuring outstanding artists in its shows, he said.

According to the septuagenarian, you cannot run a theatre with the highest academic qualification; rather, it needs professionals who have the psychology of setting up the theatre tradition to handle the National Theatre.

The playwright said that the National Theatre had all it takes to compete favourably with its peers globally if managed by professionals.

Williams, also known as ‘Uncle Lari’ noted that the arts could be used to positively rebrand the country if properly handled by qualified personnel.

He said that actors and actresses from Nigeria featuring in international appearances would definitely mention their home country as part of their identities.

Through that, they would, positively, be further projecting the image of Nigeria to the outside world, Williams said.

The arts’ commentator, who currently runs a play house, advised the government to make the theatre industry conducive and viable enough to attract practitioners and investors.

He also appealed to the practitioners to collaborate and patronise the theatre so as to restore its old tradition and make it the pride of the nation.

Newsverge reports that Lari Williams is an accomplished actor, playwright, poet, critic, essayist, teacher, columnist and arts commentator.