Wednesday, October 10, 2007

To Act or Not to Act

Sorry, bit of a pretentious title but I had to draw you in somehow.

When chomping down on fufu a couple of months ago Dzifa told me about the Abibigromma tradition, in which she and the National Theatre of Ghana Players, also known as Abibigromma, are trained. It all goes back to the times of village performances, when in the evenings people would gather round to tell and hear a story. At these events folks, having eaten a large evening meal, would start to doze off, so in order to keep them awake, the storytellers would introduce a song, which everyone would know and everyone would sing. Then dancing and musical accompaniment, until simple story telling being performance, with skilled versatile performers. I'm not sure she'd completely agree that the whole of the Ghanaian theatre tradition came about in order to stop well sated people from nodding off, but it's a good story.

Anyway, the point is that performers are trained in Ghana to be versatile and to perform. The difference between performing and acting is subtle but huge, and the effect on the audience can be the difference between being spoken to and overhearing someone else's conversation. In the UK actors are trained to act, to go through the six steps, and the Method and naval gaze their way through character development and performance - don't get me wrong I enjoy a good naval gaze as much as the next person, but there's a time and a place.

Great Children's theatre actors and Ghanaians perform and West End performers act - and I know which I prefer. So there.


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