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Opinions of Saturday, 27 July 2019

Columnist: Arnold Asamoah-Baidoo

We need more plays from Roverman

Uncle Ebo Whyte, Playwright and CEO of Roverman Productions Uncle Ebo Whyte, Playwright and CEO of Roverman Productions

For the many who make it their business to know the ins and outs of the industry, touting the credentials of renowned playwright, Uncle Ebo Whyte would sound jaded.

However, to that new fellow who might get to see and read this paper for the first time, it is my honour to inform you, in all honesty that the man is a legend in the Ghanaian creative space, having single-handedly brought recognition and support for the theatre sector.

Roverman Productions’ second quarter play I Want Your Wife wrapped up its run over the weekend with aplomb. Of all the observations made about I Want Your Wife, the telling one is the fact that patrons may need more plays from the stable in a year than the four they produce,

Forty-seven plays in the last 11 years is not bad, however, one cannot help but notice the aggressively growing patronage of Roverman Productions’ plays which could influence anybody to wish for more plays.

Maybe one play every month, or every two months, or perhaps, two plays in a quarter? The point is we may need more plays than what are being rendered by the remarkable team at Roverman Productions.

Another sold out play

I Want Your Wife, started its run two weeks ago and wrapped up over the weekend, becoming the latest play among many others from Roverman to attain ‘Sold Out’ status.

All the eight showings of the play recorded huge attendance, with every inch of space occupied. This is not just from a layman’s perspective but an analysis also backed by confirmation from the Marketing Unit at Roverman.

Interestingly, every new play attracts an impressive number of patrons who are seeing an Ebo Whyte production for the first time. What it means is that, there’s always an increase in patronage at every showing.

Intentionally ignoring all other factors and just sticking to the ever-growing numbers who watch the showings, it is not out of place to call for more plays.

I may not have the actual figures – I wish I did – on what numbers turned up for the latest play, how much was grossed in the two-week showing and how this play sits on the log for all Ebo Whyte plays in terms of revenue generation but it is clear people want more.

The Andrew Adote factor

I have not seen all 47 plays from Roverman but I have patronised quite a number of them and in all those I have watched – Andrew Adote has had not just a starring role but put up a stellar performance every time.

For me, he is virtually the face of Ebo Whyte plays and the poster boy for Roverman – deservedly so!

Andrew Adote and Adjetey Anang are in my view the best two Ghanaian actors in the last decade, to have graced the stage and the silver screen respectively. They are naturally gifted and most importantly, technically skilled. There’s hardly been any production in which the two have under-performed, they are known to always bring their ‘A-Game.’

My good friend Kwaku Asiedu, after my inquisition on the continuous use of certain actors for all plays by Uncle Ebo Whyte, quipped that every actor is replaceable and expendable. I never believed him until, for the first time in my life, I enjoyed a play without Andrew.

I Want Your Wife was splendid, and to my astonishment, the absence of Andrew was hardly felt as I witnessed such an amazing exhibition of acting prowess by those actors.

Little room for blunders

The original caption for this sub-heading was ‘No Room For Blunders’ but I had to tweak it a bit due to the obvious fact that there’s no perfection in any endeavour and Roverman Productions is fallible.

The first showing for I Want Your Wife had patrons grousing over sound, with the actors sometimes becoming inaudible on stage.

It is however germane for me to state that there’s near perfection in every production under this firm. The intrigue and lessons woven into the plays are simply amazing. The level of precision that comes with the productions is indisputable in events production in Ghana.

It is a cliché to even talk about the respect for time at all Roverman plays but it is not clichéd to reiterate the effectiveness of the technical detail dedicated to such productions, simply exemplary!

Music is a mainstay in all Ebo Whyte plays and the guys at the music department who come up with the playlists, the revision of songs and the band deserve commendation.

In my many years of following Roverman’s productions, I am yet to see any actor, regardless of the role, disappoint with his/her acting.

Every person that mounts the stage gives it his/her all – showcasing such proficiency with both the acting and the singing. Kudos to the Director and the Casting Director!

Of new auditorium, LEDs & support

There’s been talk of Roverman moving into their own multi-faceted auditorium that would host their plays. That is great news considering the fact that such an edifice would cater to the special technical needs of the organisation.

It may also be that avenue that would ensure that the production house would have the necessary resources to host more plays in a year.

LEDs were inculcated into the productions somewhere last year – innovative but short-lived, taking cognisance of cost and dynamics on when and how to utilise them.

After more than a decade of hosting the plays at the National Theatre, a new auditorium and its accompanying facilities to uplift the state of theatre in the country is a step in the right direction for any progressive thinker like Uncle Ebo Whyte.

To be fair, Corporate Ghana has been good to Roverman Productions over the years, but transitioning from the current state of theatre to a new phase that would embrace the growing numbers and the digital nuances of this generation – require enough resources. More can be done.

Recognition for backroom staff

Clearly, it takes quite a lot for a production to be executed successfully and over the period, I have observed that only two groups of people get the loudest cheers and recognition at the end of every play; the director and the actors.

However, there’s this other group that equally deserves proper mention; the guys who are the engine of all the productions.

I am talking about the hardworking guys behind the scenes, who patrons do not get to see, working their butts off to make sure these actors and their director look good.

They include the personnel in the production room, the technical experts who control the lights, sound and set, and the musicians who are stuck down there, who strike notes to such near perfection among others.

It is only appropriate that sometimes, we see their faces too when performers and director are bowing to deafening applause from an appreciative audience.

Thankfully, as ingenious as Roverman is, the traditional remarks by Uncle Ebo Whyte are now pre-recorded. The names or photos of every personnel that contributes to the play could be projected for patrons to see and appreciate them more.