Stories by Damiete Braide
As a way of drawing attention to issues affecting the society negatively and proffering solutions, Thespian Family Theatre scored a bull’s eye with its recent production, Beyond the Garb, which was staged at the Cinema Hall 2, National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos State.
The play written and directed by Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Thespian Theatre Family, Mrs Ayodele Jaiyesimi, comprised a large cast with an infusion of music, dance, drama, monologue and displays by various ethnic groups.
The high riveting drama highlighted the level of corruption in different professions in the country and how people desirous of a positive change try to see that people conform to rules and regulations guiding the society. Beyond the garb lies underneath the garment echoed. It is a play whose theme either has an impact on the community or something that the government is trying to do positively.
With the change initiative, the play highlighted the situation of things in the country, emphasising on corruption, as well as attempt to change paradigms and perceptions of people. When an individual goes out in the street, you see everybody pretending to be of good character by putting the blame on the government or the next person for societal ills. Yet they fail to look at themselves and see the roles that they can play in the transformation, change or anti-corruption crusade.
In the village setting, where the plot is set, a coronation of an individual is about to take place. Though the villagers are happy with the coronation but not with the person from the city who is to be crowned. They are uncomfortable with the people in the city for creating inflation and not managing the economy well. They, also, wonder why an individual from the city should come to a peaceful town to rule over them when the people in the city have not administered themselves well.
However, a female lawyer listens to conversations of corrupt practices peculiar to certain professions (lecturers, policemen, politicians, and the wife of the Chief Executive Officer), and she believes, although people in the city have not done too well, those in the village are also corrupt through their sharp practices.
For example, when you find, on getting to the market, that you go the market and find that the garri or rice seller has been tampered with measuring tin in order to defraud the buyer. Likewise, the trader selling cloth in the market has a tape shorter by three centimetres or more.
She told the audience, “It is not in the garb; the policeman who wears uniform, most of the time, are the ones who are most hit or people believe that they are really corrupt. Corruption is not about the policeman alone but all of us in the society, and except we look inwards and if we don’t allow change to start with us or key it into the change programme, then it is not really going to work.”
Jaiyesimi said the play was deliberate and of relevance to the society, because “we are all talking about change, or corruption and you will find, in the play, where the policeman gives an insight into what he does in the course of his work. Most times, their salaries are delayed and they are paid in arrears and, if, peradventure, anyone of them dies in service, their family will be given a certain amount of money that is too small for the family’s upkeep.
“Most times, people criticise them so much and what we are saying that even when we are trying not to be fantastically corrupt, we then need to leave the lecturer, who sells handouts to students, let us look at ourselves and see how we can contribute positively to the society.”
The director was of the view that music and dance in the performance reinforced the message about the play. “Sometimes, when you are trying to deliver a hard message, and when people come to the theatre, there also has to be some form of entertainment, and that does a bit to mask the play,” she said.