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Ebo Whyte: Threatre Chose Me

Popular Ghanaian Playwright, Uncle Ebo Whyte has said his interest in drama begun during his days in high school and has since never recovered from it.
He indicated in an interview that he read Statistics at the university and so was cut off from anything drama. He noted that he first tasted drama after he seized a lead role from its owner in his absence during his days at the Osu Presby High School.
Narrating his expedition he said, “Theatre chose me because I did not even do literature in school. I studied statistics at the university so my path was as far away from this as possible but in secondary school at Osu Presby, it was a time where School of Performing Arts sent out its final year diverting students to secondary schools to produce a play as part of their project work. I was curious about what they were doing so I will go and stand in the window and watch them rehearse. Initially we were about 5 or 6 who would go and stand in the window to watch them but with time, people began to lose interest and by their 3rd week, I was the only one.
“Then on this day, they had gathered, rehearsals had begun then just then, he (the facilitator) realized that the main character had not turned up. By this time every person in the room had his part so there was no extra person to read the part for the rest of them to rehearse so in desperation, he (the facilitator) began to look about and he (the facilitator) saw me in the window and called me. I timidly walked into the room and he gave me the script. We began rehearsals and in about 8 minutes later, he (the facilitator) stopped the rehearsals and asked me if I had done the play before and I said no then he (the facilitator) asked, ‘how come you know it?’ What had happened was that for the 3 weeks that I stood in the windows, I had memorized all the play, I had also memorized the mechanics of acting he was teaching them, by the time the guy who had the role came into the rehearsal room 20minutes later, he had lost his role. That’s my introduction to theatre and I have never recovered from that. When theatre bites you, you don’t recover”, he said.
Uncle Ebo also revealed his productions have made massive impacts more than money can buy. According to him, his story lines have renewed lives and relationships.
“There are marriages that will attribute their survival to the production. There are individuals that would talk about their renewed focus for life to the production. One of the lasting memories to this production was an encounter with a French citizen who had come to Ghana as a way of escaping from his wife because he said his wife was too much trouble. He left his wife there and took a job here in Ghana. He visited France twice a year and said he was not bringing his wife here. Then he came to watch our shows on the advice of one of his sons, one Saturday. Upon watching the drama which was “Unhappy Wife, Confused Husband”, he said ‘my wife is not that crazy, my wife is a typical woman’. On Sunday, he embarked in the air to France, by Tuesday he was back in Ghana with his wife and on Saturday, he came and watched the play with his wife and he told me ‘after watching that play, I realized that the problem was me and not my wife. My wife is just a woman, I have to learn how to live with a woman’ and now they are living together. That is just one of the possible stories.”
His first three productions from the year 2000 saw loses but hit the jackpot with the fourth; the famous, “Unhappy Wife, Confused Husband”.
“I wrote and produced my first play in 1974 and was performed at NTC Assembly hall as a part time work” and added that he only did it as a ministry however, “ In 2000, I resolved to work in the area of my gifting instead of the area of my dream. I decided to make it work or starve trying to do so. My first three productions were disasters. I took a loan for my first and I run a debt that took me two years to pay. I sold my car to finance my second production and the car did not come back. My third production broke even. It was with my 4th production – “Unhappy Wife, Confused Husband”, that we filled National Threatre twice the same day, all three levels of National Threatre”, he said.
Source: Fuseini

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