Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Generations of Ghanaians

The morning was spent at Legon, where Awo has arranged an open audition for students and former students. A goodly dozen young people show up, plus the ever-supportive Dzifa, and a slightly older actor who I saw in a play on Friday night. It's very interesting to see how he, in his early 40s, and the older ladies I've been meeting over the last few days, have so much more sense of themselves as physical performers than the students, even those who are studying dance. It's as if the new generation is losing touch with African culture on every level, and has very little sense of its own identity. This leaves the young actors floundering. When I ask them to create something, the only images which have any real energy to them are associated with violence. Otherwise it feels so lacking in that depth of culture and spirit I've seen in Dzifa, Agnes, Aunty Ama and the rest.

I meet one more of these fabulous female actors today: Mary Yirenkyi. For 17 years she taught at Legon, and she's also studied in Leeds and Exeter. As she reads from the text, and dances for me, I'm back in the real world of the play and of the Akan culture. It's like two different worlds, one full and one empty. All the more reason to do this project.

Awo drives me up to the top of the hill to see the Amphitheatre, where the play was first performed in 1964. It's a lovely space, somewhere between the Greek theatres and the African village clearing. There are always big problems with the open air, of course, but for this project it may be right.

I spend the afternoon with Ama Ata. This conversation was video-ed, and I hope you'll be reading it in a book before too long, so it won't be recorded here. But it was incredibly helpful. She has a very generous spirit.

William emails to say that the contract has finally gone to Shanghai. Things move on.... I'm coming to the end of my time in Accra, and must get ready for the new adventure!

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