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How to leverage theatre for job creation

With a youth population of well over 60 million, Nigeria unemployment and youth restiveness can be better managed with a well funded and thriving creative industry, particularly theatre.

This is so because the Nigerian creative industry is currently under utilised considering the level of creativity, funding and investment it can attract on a year-on-year basis. ‘Our Duke has gone mad again’, a stage play coproduced by Joseph Edgar, is pointing the way to how Nigeria can leverage theatre and the entire value chain of the Nigerian creative industry for wealth creation and redistribution.

“This particular play is bringing together potential investors whom we hope will key into the vision, they can see what we have done and what we are trying to do. That is why we are having 200 people come see each show of the play”, said Joseph Edgar, executive producer of the play.

Edgar noted that ‘Our Duke has gone mad again’ is not just a play production, but a pitch to prospective investors on the other projects his outfit is trying to do early next year.

Edgar stated that the stage play is a compilation of his writings. According to him, already 70 percent tickets are pre-sold, with 16 corporate sponsors, six major productions with over 30,000 projected viewers, and six casts on stage at the same time.

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Edgar further disclosed that he wants to institutionalise wealth creation with ‘Our Duke has gone mad again’, leveraging theatre as a vehicle.

To achieve the aim, a proposed N9 billion theatre will be built in 2021, which will expectedly help move production away from corporate sponsorship reliance, which has not been sustainable considering the Nigerian micro/ macroeconomic environment.

“We are looking at having about 500 Nigerians as shareholders. It is going to bring a certain level of permanence to funding of productions and promotion in the industry,” said Edgar.

Harry Ebohon, managing director/ceo, Propetrol, main sponsor of the stage play, said partnering with theatre art organisations and artistes can unlock the Nigerian creative space for wealth creation.

According to Ebohon, the production is about the life story of the Duke, which aligns with the core value of Propetrol as a corporate entity. “As a company, we identify with creativity,” he stated.

Ibiene Ogolo, co-executive producer of the stage play, noted that ‘Our Duke has gone mad again’ is not a regular stage play, hence the production is out to revolutionize the cultural space.

According to Ogolo, the production seeks to tell the Nigerian story with a Nigerian narrative. “We aim to tell our stories with our voices; build and correct the ill narrative created over the years. Create jobs, create wealth, congregate as a people, and position for the next big play that we expect to happen”, she stated.

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