Images: National Theatre of Namibia productions.
Theatre is a powerful way of putting across messages with the aim of stimulating action to address identified socio-economic problems and issues.
I know this is true because theatre has changed the way I see myself, the situations around me and other people. The very first time I attended a theatre play was in 2014, I think. I watched ‘My Boetie Se Sussie Se Ou’ at the National Theatre of Namibia and it was good. I fell in love with theatre. It was also in that time I wrote my first script, which was later staged in 2016.
Anyway, I have noticed that many Namibians, especially those in rural areas, don’t have a clue or the appreciation for theatre. I have always wondered why there are so many empty seats during plays.
I trolled social media for comments:
Cathy McRoberts: “Often due to poor publicity.”
Natache Iilonga: “Just poor marketing. I often find out too late.”
Engelhardt Unaeb: “Musicals are more fun.”
M’kariko Amagulu M’kariko: “I think most of the local population is not social enough to really appreciate theatre. Thus, more work needs to go into socialising the young to appreciate theatre from a young age, since it requires a love for stories, role playing and word play. It takes some concentration and understanding to enjoy because it is not as loosely allowing like band performances, where audiences can interact with the music through dance, at the same time have a drink.”
Raymond Ganeb: “I think advertising plays a big role in this matter.”
Okay, I will not lie; I accidentally stumbled upon the first play I went to: there was a Facebook competition to win tickets and I won. I didn’t really want to go but I ended up going. It was an amazing experience. I started reading up on drama and it became a major part of my life. I wanted to be involved.
So, I encourage you to share, retweet the next theatre play and help develop a theatre culture. Invite as many people to go support that production.
Theatre people subject themselves to the horrible experience of auditioning, dreaming of the horrifying experience of performing in front of hundreds, and enduring the pain of constant rejection and disappointment.
There’s nothing quite like it. I didn’t simply fall in love with theater because of its entertainment value. I learned that theater benefits not just the audience but the entire community.
I am sure there are so many of you who see event posters on the street and just walk past them or just scroll past social media posts on theatre thinking: “not my cup of tea.”
I also ran a one hour poll on Twitter to see why Namibians don’t attend theatre shows and the majority said they just don’t really like theatre. In a country where we are struggling with nation-building, it is really sad to see this.
Just by attending and applauding, audiences give up-and-coming stars the positive feedback they need to continue their artistic pursuits. You also give producers the money they need to stage regular plays and invest in the local artistic sphere. You want to see more local performance art? Support theatre.
Also, don’t worry about not having a date to attend a theatre show. Theatre people are a family. Many lifelong friendships and relationships have been formed in the theatre. Theatre is so much better than any Kasi party. It’s crucial to get people in the culture habit while they’re young.
Take it from me, a kid from a small Southern town with almost no drama activities, once you give theatre a chance, it will do you good. By all means, go see a show! You’ll become a part of the vibrant, long-cherished tradition that is theatrical storytelling.