Roverman Productions’ ‘Nicholas’ – an insightful and brilliant piece about Duncan-Williams

Roverman Productions’ ‘Nicholas’ – an insightful and brilliant piece about Duncan-Williams

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Intro

Uncle Ebo Whyte and his Roverman Productions have for the first time veered into the arena of what I shall call ‘biodrama’ (stage plays based on the lives of notable or historical figures) and they did so with the life story of one of Ghana’s biggest and most influential pastors – Archbishop Nicholas Duncan-Williams.

The difficulties of ‘biodrama’ or shall we use biopic, are varied. One of the main ones in the case of a stage play by a writer who has decided to have a focus on dance theatre as a fulcrum of his production, is to tell the key components of a person’s life story in a way that comes as close to the reality as possible. This was done well.

The chronology of events in the life of the Archbishop were well depicted in a way that maintained the look and feel of a typical Roverman production whiles carrying the audience through the life of the Archbishop. There were a lot of things I did not know about him until I saw the play – he survived an abortion as a baby (his twin brother was aborted while he remained there unnoticed for a few more months), his visibly burnt fingers were as a result of nearly kowtowing to the cunnings of the devil.

As a Christian I felt inspired watching the play. For the non-believer, you will learn not to give up on people. Let me dig a bit more into what I watched.

Nicholas

The official synopsis says “He survived D&C in his mother’s womb; he escaped death at the hands of an executioner for ritual purposes; he had a very narrow escape from being thrown into the sea for being a stowaway on a ship; he battled with unseen forces that left him with the loss of three fingers; he went to College before learning how to read and write; he has gone from one failure after another, from one misfortune after another but is still standing strong and making an impact beyond the shores of his motherland. Nicholas! is a celebration of one man’s fight for survival and significance and of God’s amazing grace. From being the least likely to succeed of his father’s 37 children, Nicholas has accomplished more than most of his generation and gives all the glory to God”

The moment Duncan-Williams lost three of his fingers

Duncan-Williams himself was awed at the performance of his life on stage and he didn’t mince words in saying so. Such was the performance that he indicated he will support a roadshow to take the play around the country and perhaps across the world. I think it was largely a well enacted biopic.

The Duncan-Williams story

My friend and Botweburg brother Tonyi Senayah of Horseman Shows described the story as ‘a typical you know me but you don’t know my story’ kind. As Ebo Whyte remarked after the curtain call, it is a very rare occurrence to have notable sons and daughters of this land tell their story except for media interviews where they scratch the surface. There are so many people whose life stories we will love to read in books, see on screens or watch on stage. But it seems the Ghanaian is not fond of these and so it was warm to watch this at a theater.

I must admit I have not been a fan of the Archbishop (not that it matters) but after learning about the other details of his life and what God has seen him through, I have come to appreciate him more and respect his Ministry. See, things about spirituality are as personal as they can get. I believe in Duncan-Williams calling in much the same way as I do not believe in Obinim’s. I didn’t also realized the Archbishop’s failed marriage hit him as hard as it did.

The seeming rejection by some other preachers and some church members also seemed to have him real hard and that was pretty obvious in the play.

Ebo Whyte did a good job in capturing the highlights of a sixty year old story and to do so while maintaining the other attributes his productions have been noted for in the past – comedy, dance, music.

Digital vs Traditional Sets….again

This is the second time Roverman has experimented with digital sets, that is projecting digital sets on LED screens. Just as last quarter, it wasn’t too great. As I said before, I may be a traditionalist when it comes to my preference for using good old wood and cloth and paints to make theatre sets but I feel justified especially when there was a sense of unnaturalness with the look of the digital screens.

I won’t dare call myself a playwright but the few times I wrote plays for my youth group in church years ago, I made the types of actors, the space we had to perform on and the duration of the play affect how the scenes and acts were scripted. It will particularly be a tough job for the stage designer and writer when the play has a lot of different scenes that must be depicted. But that’s why it is theatre and it is creative arts, thus allowing for a lot of creativity in bringing scripts to life.

Bottom line, I hope Roverman improves the usage of digital sets or better still rivets to good old traditional sets. The National Theatre provides the best possible space in the country for theatre and I believe it is possible to build a variety of sets (yes, it’s a lot of work but Roverman believes in excellence so to quote my 5 year old son, it should be easy peasy). There are huge curtains and enough space at the back to pull this off.

Andrew Adote…again

I wrote last quarter that Andrew Adote was clearly the finest and most versatile actor in Ghana. I said that without any biases (Andy is an Odadee like myself). Theatre is very challenging and to pull it off in four, two hour plays a year in the very brilliant way he’s done all year round, is brilliant. If you doubt his prowess, ask anyone who has seen any of his four plays this year.

In Nicholas, his voice modulation was as close as possible to the revered Archbishop and his mannerism were just what we see of Duncan-Williams. He got the appropriate costume on including a cute pot-belly to match up the main character. Sitting at the national theatre I was playing back the last character he played on this same stage – an Italy based Ghanaian footballer with horrendous English but never shy from using proverbs each time he spoke. It is inspiring to have a genuinely talented fellow blazing the theater scene in Ghana.

Compare that with the various Instagram models posing as actors who have featured in one or a half badly scripted and produced movie but will not let the opportunity to yell ‘I AM AN ACTOR’ slip by. I do realise that the award scheme for film and acting in Ghana sucks. Hopefully after Zylofon Media had bought the rights and renamed it Zylofon Ghana Movie Awards we will see some semblance of seriousness. What am I even talking about? It is end of November and the awards are traditionally scheduled for December and we know next to nothing about the ZGMA (let’s discuss some other time).

Conclusion

Hopefully this will open the door for other notable men and women of this land to have their stories captured in books, written for the screens and enacted on stage for the sake of posterity if for nothing at all. The list is endless and cuts across politics, entertainment, sports, business, religion, etc. We hope to see more of this.

 

Source: Kwame Gyan/kwamegyan.com

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