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Why theatre artistes are not united

Source: nigeriafilms.com

Shuiabu Hussein is an artist and dancer. Born in Dekina, Kogi State. He had his education in Kano and Benue States before attending School of Communication, Jos. He holds a post graduate diploma in Public Relations and Marketing among other qualifications.

He came to Lagos and was groomed into the theatre by such dramatists like the late Chief Hubert Ogunde, Bayo Ogunleye among others. Husseini who also doubles as a freelance journalist and contributor to film and art pages in The Guardian Newspaper, is currently the National President of Dance Guild of Nigeria (DGN). In an interview with Daily Sun, he explained reasons why he remains a stage actor:

Acting on stage
It is an upliftment if you ask me to mention the number of plays I have done. I have done so many, but the ones that readily come to mind is the stage adaptation of Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart', I have done Elechi Amadi's The Concubine, which was also adapted for the stage, Ola Rotimi's The gods are not to blame as well as Wed lock of the Gods, Esiwuru, Camwood on the leaves and some of Wole Soyinka's 'plays. I have not been able to feature in some of Professor Femi Osofisan's plays and I look forward to doing this very soon. I have featured in quite a number of plays that I can't remember.

While in Government Secondary School at Makurdi, I was president of the school's Dramatic Society. While there, produced a lot of plays. I am inclined to stage plays. The stage is the thing for me. I am sure a lot of people will read this and be wondering, if you have done so many plays why have you not produced your own video. But I love the stage because that is where the action is. It is the true test of an actor; there the response is instant. You don't need to go home before saying this is good, but when one sees you on stage, there immediately he makes his judgement.

Message
First it depends on the kind of play that one is acting, what an actor does is to interpret the role that is given to him or her so as to give life to a character. The characters reflect the message being pased to the audience by the playwright. But the plays I have mostly taken part in are basically those that have one lesson or the other about life. These are plays that teach the audience one thing or the other. For instance, the play might be centred on a greedy man, woman or urge us not to go against traditions, to have respect for our traditions, elders and the rest of them. Basically, they are didactic plays, plays that teach and have different message for it viewers.

Inspiration
Inspiration they say comes from God, from things around me I can just sit down and see water dripping down, and I get inspired to do something such as to write a play, a piece or even a poem. Also from the environment, I am inspired to take an action if I just see something that strikes a balance with what I am talking about.

Most challenging play
The most challenging play I have acted in was Elechi Amadi's The Concubine. I was asked to play the role of a father, I was barely 25 years old then and I was asked to play the role of a 75-year old man. It was terrible because I had to really look for a make-up to enable me look quite old. I had to be consistent in characterisation for the audience to believe me. It was really tasking but by the time we finished each round and I went to undress to get prepared for the next day role, a lot of people didn't believe I actually played the role.

Importance of NANTAP
NANTAP is the National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners, it is supposed to be the umbrella body of theatre practice in the country but the association is where it is today because of the structure and the way it started. When it started, we thought it would assume the role of an umbrella association, but the proliferation of groups which came with the advent of the boom in the home video industry pushed the umbrella status behind. People now started to form groups that they think can stand on their own and it even came to a point that screen was differentiated from the stage, so if one acts on screen one should belong to the screen and if you belong to stage, you should stick to stage. But no! that is not the thing, I look forward to the day that we will harmonise our position and come under one umbrella body and I think NANTAP has registered and it has what it takes to act as an umbrella body for all the associations in Nigeria.

I think artistes should join NANTAP because, in order to get what you want from an industry, you have to belong to an equity and in this case, what we have is NANTAP whose responsibility it is to look after the well fare of artistes and articulate policies that will help the profession to grow.

Role Model
I look up to someone like Jahman Anikulapo who is presently the Sunday Editor of the Guardian Newspaper, he is one man who discovered that I could write and he pushed me forward, I want to write like him although it is not possible to write like him. But I want to reach a level where I would write and somebody will say ha!this man has written. Also in the writing aspect, I look forward to being like my present boss, Ahmed Yerima, he is a man who did it up to this level where he is today all by himself. He is a man who believes in self development and I think I am somebody who grew to the position I am today because of self development . There's also a man who is somewhere around Ikeja ; he runs a training clinic and they call him Mr. Oguduro. This is a man I think everybody should emulate. I want to be like these men and if it is difficult to be like them, I know I can gain a lot of experience from them. They are people who believe in themselves to get to where they are today, people who are respected widely in the society. Another man I admire is Ali Balogun I like him, his a man of style. I need his style to get to where I want to get to.

Dance Guild of Nigeria
The Dance Guild is the body for dance practissioners in the country, a guild for artists and instrumentalists. One needs to join an association to know what is happening in the society so that the association can fight for one's rights, when the needs arises. So that the association can let one into the trend of the profession. We are billed to meet very soon at a convention at Calabar. This convention aims at finding out what the status of NANTAP is supposed to be and to see the need to come under one umbrella, so that we all can forge ahead.

Presently there are so many voices scattered here and there, and we are not making any headway because we do not have a common voice. I think it is time we had a common voice in the industry.