The Deputy Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Mr. William Robinson, who officially launched the TACOVER Theater League, said he was part of the International Institute of Theater Arts team that toured the country to motivate people to love theater arts and observed that people are always learning in the world of theater.
Mrs. Elvira Monica Kamara, Principal of the Freetown Secondary School for Girls and President of the International Institute of Theater Arts, who chaired the event, said the day is another effort to resuscitate Theatre Arts in the country, recalled the 1980s when there were over 80 theater groups in the country, that several attempts have been made in the past to revive Theatre Arts, that theater is not dead and that the three personalities want to revive it to regain its past glory stressing that in the past artists did not exhibit their skills for money but their passion for the profession.
She further asked the rhetoric question, “are we ready for the challenge? Theatre is life. The old folks should give back to the profession.”
Mr. Charlie Haffer, one of the prominent artists who wants to review Theater Arts explained among others that like the English Premier League, Theater Groups should register regularly with the TACOVER Theatre League, that plans are underway to open a Theater Institute that would offer certificate and diploma courses in all aspects of Theater Arts and assured that they would partner with various stakeholders to move the process forward to achieve their aims and objectives.
He continued that each registered theater group would be required to register its actors and other officials, its colors, flag, costumes and song but lamented that a venue is a major challenge although the competition would be organized on home and away basis every two weeks adding that the decision of the referees is final and informed that trophies, certificates and prizes would be distributed at the end of the each competition/session.
According to Mr. Charlie Haffer, artists have not been receiving awards that business houses should sponsor artists and that communities should register theater groups at No. 1 ECOWAS Street in Freetown.
In his keynote address, Mr. Raymond D’Souza George, renowned artist and lecturer in the African Studies Department at Fourah Bay College, recalled his first performance in 1957 at a Sunday School function, that in spite of all the challenges in Theater Arts, it is still part of life and that he has a deep love relationship with theater that is in his DNA though sour occasionally.
He furthered that he has lectured at Fourah Bay College for 33 years and commended President Julius Maada Bio for his Government’s New Direction policy what prioritizes education which he affirmed is also a new direction for the Theater Arts underscoring that they would use theater to be of service not only to themselves but the entire country adding that their talent is a sacred gift.
He also recalled renowned artists like Professor Eldred Jones, former Principal of Fourah Bay College, Tommy Taylor-Morgan and Mary Edmondson, that in the past local talents were more valued with a sense of relevance that made them bond so well on stage while foreign artists conducted workshops for all aspects of the profession but lamented that Nigerian and Ghanaian films have affected Theater Arts
According to Mr. Raymond D’Souza George, theater is a lovely instrument to bring people together as well as bond for national cohesion reiterating that theater is not just to entertain but can solve a lot of problems and suggested the organization of a Theater Festival instead of competition as well as prioritize training in all aspects of Theater Arts.
Mrs. Yoko Reffel-Wyse also spoke about the Empire Arts Institute that would commence operations in September this year while APC’s Hon. Alusine Conteh of Constituency 125, Western Area, disclosed that he has been an artist for over 30 years and has benefited a lot from the profession.
Mr. Collins Archie Pearce also made a similar statement on audio.
In her vote of thanks, Hon. Veronica Kadi Sesay asserted that the day is her happiest, that she is the longest serving Member of Parliament representing the ruling SLPP and one of the best debaters in Parliament, that she has passion for drama as she started acting in Class 6, that South Africa partially depends on Theater Arts and appealed for government support now that government prioritizes education promising that the project would be rolled out nationwide.
Official launch of the organization, reminiscences by former artists, dramatic performances and rendition of songs climaxed the event.