THE latest hoopla over the fate of the National Theatre with the change of management by the ministry in charge of the edifice got me thinking recently. It is no more news that the structure went into disrepair in the 90s with the leaking roof turning the main bowl into a habitat for different kinds of wildlife and the complementary spaces such as the cinema halls and other exhibition halls looking like caves.
The real news is that given the right empowerment, staff of the National Theatre and National Troupe under the direction of Prof. Ahmed Yerima, painstakingly resuscitated the facility till it came back to life with lush lawns, functional cooling, a restored roof, humane interiors, and engaging programming to boot in a feat comparable to the unearthing and restoration of an ancient Egyptian pyramid by Nigerian standards. With the politricks that have currently converged dark clouds over the National Theatre at the moment, the Design Sleuthe finds it expedient to salute the courage and sense of purpose that has guided the custodians of the facility till date in renewing in some of us, the faith that things, even gigantic buildings bequeathed to us by a previous government, can be made to work in this country with determination and clear headed thinking. NOT being quite sure if the building will survive into the next decade, the Design Sleuthe recommends that you drive down there today with your family or that lady or gentleman that you always wanted to spend quality time with.
There you will see people sprawled on the expansive lawns picnicking or posing for photographs, riding horses or just enjoying the view. There is likely to be a stage play or comedy show going on in one of the halls and at the world famous mammy market style watering hole called abe igi, there will be pepper soup with different types of meat and fish and a variety of drinks to sate your thirst. Mr. Biggs has a presence right there at the theatre’s entrance C and Tetrazzini is there at the gate for those who prefer fast foods. There are toilets-a-plenty and the police don’t give vagrants a chance to cause trouble. Why the public service announcement? Just in case this is the last chance you get to see what the National Theatre looks like with a decent buzz for a long while, with the way things happen in this country, you just never know.