The CEO, Rivers of Water Productions, Patrick Otoro has secured his name on the list of socially-committed theatre producers with his recent musical production in Abuja titled ‘One Good Man.’ Starring Richard Mofe-Damijo (RMD) and Patrick Diabuah, the drama highlights the theme of governance and leadership as well as the civic responsibility in nation building. Steeped in reflecting Nigeria’s diverse cultural life, the musical performance was a total theatre spectacle with its rich music, dance, lighting, costumes and food display.
While reflecting on the production, Otoro said: “We choose this genre of musical drama to be able to express our diversity in our creativity. Two things we want to achieve is to send a message, as well as give our audience quality entertainment. We know that music and drama and dance put together gives you value for your time and money. This one scene you saw is one out of several scenes in the play. It is the only northern scene in the drama. There are other scenes showing the Yoruba, Igbo, South-south cultures and more. You need to see the full play to appreciate the story. I tell you, it is a beautiful story.”
Although many fun seekers often go to the theatre for escapism, the producer was determined not to diminish the entertainment factor for this play’s strong political message.
“Every human being is a political animal. We all are. We cannot pretend that we are not. Whatever happens in politics affects all of us. We are part of the political state in Nigeria, and we must make comment. But what we have done deliberately is to take the political reality of this country and sandwiched it with a lot of entertainment.’’
Drawing the cast and crew from his pool of friends and associates, he is not a newbie when it comes to staging a big cast production having staged a 60-man show in 2019, Agbaro the Musical. For him, one major drawback for theatre productions in Abuja remains the scarcity of performance venues that are purpose-built.
“One of the challenges we have in Abuja is real estate. We don’t have performance halls. And we are hoping that as you write, you will make that case for us. This is not a private property rather government. It is costing us a lot of money to rehearse here. We can’t even get a good place to perform because there is no good theatre space in Abuja. Politicians don’t care. The conference halls we have here in the city are for conferences.
“With the amount of creativity and talent in this country, a place like Abuja should not lack a performing arts theatre. But we don’t have that. We hold performances at the Hilton Hotel which costs about millions per night. And at that N3.5 million. We have moved to NAF Conference Center in Kado, because it seems cheaper but it is going to cost us N2million per day,’’ he revealed.
With the exception of a few cultural hubs like Heritage Africa Village Square, Abuja is indeed a fertile land for theatre infrastructure.