It was an honour to be asked by Chieff Moomen (the brain behind Wogbɛ Jɛkɛ), to be a part of the directorial team of this amazing production. Having worked together with him on a few of Sapphire’s productions, we had often talked about doing something ‘big’ in the theatre which would encompass all aspects of performance. Thank goodness he had the energy to take this a step further and see it through to the end!
So it started with an idea to create a spectacle. Then the challenge was how to make this spectacle not just entertaining but relevant. What about our own story? Yes – what about the history of Ghana? It sounded like a brilliant idea – but how do you make anyone sit through a 2 hour history lesson? You give them Wogbɛ Jɛkɛ! You give them music, dance, drama and poetry! You give them the most exhilarating history lesson one could possibly have.
It was an exciting theatrical journey that took me back to my theatre roots and linked me with some of the most talented young people Ghana has to offer. It was an incredible team – the ‘A’ team as I like to refer to them (Karim, IS, Joy, Efua, Solo, Alex, Juju, Taste, Maggie Sena, Ben). They made my work easy.
Relentless rehearsals running late into the night over several weeks did not deter the team; we were all convinced we had something and the conviction grew stronger each day. It was exciting to see the creative process unfold from the inception of the idea, to the initial production meetings; to hearing the first strains of the theme music; to watching the first dance movements accompanied by the expert drumming. I had goose pimples when I first heard the chant which was to become part of the dramatic opening of the whole show.
One of the things we kept saying was that if we were going to have a two hour show, we had to make sure the audience would be so engrossed in the performance; they would not even realize they had been sitting down for that length of time! I think we achieved that, and audiences who saw the performances last month would attest to this! From the powerful sound of the drums to the beautiful rendition of the theme song to the haunting melody of the opening chant and through the various stages in our history (depicted through dance and narration), it was fast paced eye catching show that left the audience loving every moment.
Wogbɛ Jɛkɛ is only the first part of a series that will take us right through to modern Ghana.
Like everything in life, there is always room for improvement! There is always something to learn. We have had our first run, seen where we can improve and are coming back even better.