Urithi Entertainment is set to present a Total African Theatre performance dubbed ‘Masking The King’ on April 30 and May 1 at the Kempinski Hotel. The production runs 7pm each night and it would feature some of the biggest names in Ghanaian theatre.
Through storytelling, poetry, music, dance, mime and drama a scintillating story about chieftaincy battle is unravelled in a fictitious village of Ntampa in ‘Masking The King’. Set among the Akans in the early 60s, the play reveals a people and village steep in culture as depicted by their dressing, language, traditions and even forms of entertainment. The Queen of Ntampa village is expected to successfully negotiate the conundrum of who becomes King after the death of Ntampa’s long serving King. Among the three contenders for the throne are Kwaku Wiafe, Agya Poku and Kwasi Frimpong. The latter wins the race and is appointed King by the Queen. There is wide dissatisfaction amongst some royals as to the eligibility of Kwasi Frimpong although no clear charges can be pressed against him.
A flamboyant display of the rich culture as pertaining to the burial rites of Kings among the Akans is performed with the new King presiding over proceedings. Other Kings from far and near come and console and support the new King in his moment of grief. The dissatisfaction, however, increases after the royals realise mismanagement of money after the funeral celebration of their immediate past King. This was not an issue grievous enough to challenge Kwasi Frimpong to step down from the throne.
Finally, a charge is levelled against the ineligibility of Kwasi Frimpong after evidence reveals that he has committed what tradition deems as a sacrilege. As tradition dictates, Kwasi Frimpong is dethroned. Between Kwaku Wiafe and Agya Poku, there is little to separate them and select the heir to the throne. Nevertheless, Agya Poku makes it easier for the Queen to choose the next heir as he is caught stealing from the Kingdom’s treasury with the intention of implicating Kwaku Wiafe if he had gotten away with this thievery. The play ends with the coronation of Kwaku Wiafe as the King of Ntampa village much to the delight of not only the townspeople but also the royals.
Urithi Entertainment hopes to revive Total African Theatre in Ghana and make it attractive to the young and cool, as well as mature audiences. Total African Theatre performances are communal in nature and made of different art presentations: storytelling, ritual, dance, music, poetry, narration, movements, sculpturing and even digital art presentations. Due to the multiplicity that characterises Total African Theatre, the creation of content often requires the involvement of many hands, unlike a script authored by a single person. And where a playwright is employed, the person attempts to work collaboratively with the production team.
The creative process requires a collaborative and communal approach. Also, the story of the performance is often based on a concept or an idea; one that engages an entire society, often of a national and/or a global scale. Examples of such ideas could be: the making of a nation, national identity, migration, climate change, a societies cultural practices, etc… The beauty of total African performances lie in the multiple layers of presentation, its communal feel and most importantly, a condensed energy that fuels the performance. A good performer for a Total African Theatre must be versatile and creative and must be someone with a lot of performance energy.