Ministry of Tourism, Culture & Creative Arts must endorse Tema International School’s “Evolution”
There is a gamut of things, which an expert critic would typically look out for in a Musical theatre presentation that is worth its salt…
The Text (Dialogue)
- Keeps the story line clear and easy to follow
- Creates interesting and unique characters
- Smooth transitions in and out of songs
- Keeps audience interested
The Score (Song)
- Almost all of the plot and character development happens here
- At least 50% of a Musical’s running time is dedicated to song and dance
- The Songwriter (or songwriting team) works in close collaboration with the text writer
- Songs are strategically placed at emotional high points
- Musical movements and lyrics work together – neither is more important than the other
- The Music develops characters and moves the story forward
Last weekend, the students of the renowned Tema International School (TIS) staged their annual dram production. It was a Musical that they titled Evolution: A Tale of Fragmented Sounds; and if for nothing else, it provided its audience with a deeper understanding of why Tema International School has become a school of choice for many families in Ghana.
The student-devised piece explored the “evolution” of music, through several improvisational exercises in dance, drama, narration, imagery and digital Arts.
We were able to taste the flavours of the Baroque, Renaissance and Classical eras, then the energetic characters took us to the realms of the 1920’s Flappers and beyond, all the way to the time when the great Motown Records reigned with Michael Jackson as their king, and right up to the point where the sampled music of Soul, Jazz and Rock ‘N’ Roll metamorphosed into Hip Hop, Rhythm & Blues and Pop.
The creators of this energetically-aggressive Evolution were also deliberate in reigniting the fire of Pan-African culture, by ensuring that the rich and majestic sounds of Highlife, Kwaito and Reggae were thrust onto the audience’s plates.
The characters on stage trapped us in a deep, dark space and then they lit it up with music. They gave music meaning again, in an era where people too often make mediocre songs for a quick Cedi and the Ghanaian, in turn, celebrates this mediocrity.
And of course, everything became even more beautiful, when we discovered that everything had been orchestrated by the TIS students; from the musical scores, to the general instrumentation, to the orchestra, to the choir, to the pop band, moving to the costumes and to the makeup, as well as the set and props… All of this in a bid to raise funds to continue to support a school that their predecessors had built at Akorlikope, a villiage
It was a truly inspiring experience, to see that young people between the ages of 12 and 19 could produce such Art of such an impeccable quality.
And this sums up what TIS stands for. TIS embodies innovation, critical thinking, cultural diversity, creativity and creative dissidence in daring to be different, in a bid to educate, to inform and to entertain any audience – even if that audience is the whole wide world.
This time the audience was diverse and generally much older than the TIS Evolutionists, but the students commanded authority in their space and educated their audience. At the end of it all, Evolution wasn’t simply a Musical, or A Tale of Fragmented Sounds. It was a rebirth of music and a powerful assertion of the fact that Ghana’s Creative Arts space still lives and is even more potent, in an upcoming generation.
And that generation lives in the heart of Tema International School.
This is not the first time that TIS has proven that they are authoritative torch-bearers, where the Creative Arts are concerned. In 2013, the students of the school staged their own rendition of Broadway’s critically-acclaimed Musical, The Lion King, at the National Theatre, in Accra. The production attracted reviews from within Ghana and beyond, including a laudable mention from a Broadway producer, who happened to be in Accra, at the time.
Again, since 2007, the school’s choir has kept lips parting, with the precision of their notes and the overall high quality of their performances. TIS students have also had their work featured at Accra’s prestigious Chale Wote Street Art Festival and have hosted a number of open gallery sessions and chamber concerts.
Surprisingly and impressively, the list goes on and on and the most heart-warming feature of the TIS students’ work, in my opinion, is that although it has global appeal, it always remains true to the culture that sits deep, within mother Ghana’s womb.
As an advocate for culture, I challenge the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts to endorse, not only the work of the TIS students or students of other Ghanaian schools, but also that of all young students and people, who have dedicated their beings to creating authentic Ghanaian Art. This Art remains pure and true, as it questions, celebrates and influences positive change within our society.
This is the kind of Art that will make Ghana great again.
Apiorkor Seyiram Ashong/citifmonline.com
Award-Winning Poet/ Creative Arts Critic/ Culture Activist/ Literacy & Numeracy Activist
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