Nigeria: Lagos Glows As Theatre Arts Festival Begins

21 October 2019

The 25th edition of the Nigerian Universities Theatre Arts Festival (NUTAF), kicked-off in grand style in Lagos on Monday.

The 2019 NUTAF is themed, "Theatre, Governance, and Globalisation."

The host university is the Lagos State University while student delegates from 16 universities have arrived just in time for the festival. Other universities are expected to join the festival.

The six-day event is being sponsored by the MTN Foundation.

When PREMIUM TIMES attended the opening ceremony, theatre art students across universities in Nigeria were seen displaying various skills and talents in performing arts.

Dressed in colourful attires which showcased the diversity and uniqueness of the Nigerian culture, the students echoed that they also set to ensure that the festival is truly remarkable.

During the opening ceremony which held at the National Theatre, this newspaper gathered that the festival aims to bridge the gap between theory and practice in the performing arts training in Nigerian universities.

Speaking at the event the Director of festivals, Biodun Abe, said the festival hopes to receive 20 universities.

He also added that the first edition of NUTAF held in 1981 and had held consistently until "successive generations of theatre art students missed the direction and for many years the festival did not hold".

Harvest of talents

The Universities present were Adekunle Ajasin University; Federal University, Oye Ekiti; University of Benin; Ekiti State University; Abia State University; Lagos State University; Gregory University and the University of Calabar.

Others are Plateau State University; Obafemi Awolowo University; Olabisi Onabanjo University; University of Ilorin; University of Abuja; Egbinedon University; Lead City University; University of Nigeria Nsukka, among others.

Present at the opening ceremony were Yohana Izam, the Vice-Chancellor of Plateau State University, Directors, MTN Foundation, Members of NUTAF Board of Trustees, representatives from the Lagos State Ministry of Arts and Culture, and others.

Mr Abe added the misconception of the festival for political activity and power tussle between students were reasons that led to the cessation of the festival "before it was revived recently".

Director, MTN Foundation, Dennis Okoro, said NUTAF is one of the causes the foundation has been trying to promote, due to its mandate in arts and craft.

Mr Okoro said it is essential to promote young and creative talents in the performing arts sector and the foundation experimented with musicals and is now supporting NUTAF.

Love of arts

On his part, the president of the National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners (NANTAP), Isreal Eboh, said the objective of NUTAF 2019 is to further bridge the gap between 'town and gown', since the students will eventually graduate and come into the theatre industry.

He said, "We discovered that most of the times, they find it difficult transiting and that is because they operate only within the four walls of the school and the transition is difficult."

Mr Eboh, who also doubles as the chairman of the national planning committee for NUTAF 2019, said the programme will help broaden the horizon of theatre arts students "and expose them to real technical facilities within the sector".

"The industry is growing at such an alarming rate that if you want to produce graduates who will operate within the global market, they must be abreast with modern facilities and techniques," he said. "Our theatre must begin to compete at the global level, our products must be able to operate anywhere within the global stage."

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