THE Season of Ghanaian Theatre Classics, a major feature of the Ghana @50 line-up of programmes for the Jubilee year, closes with Yaw Asare’s dramatic metaphor, ‘Ananse in the Land of Idiots’.
Ananse, played alternatively by Elvis Wallace-Bruce and Terry Bright Ofosu, first extricates himself from a tight corner that his greed had placed him in and then secures a favoured position in 'the Land of Idiots.' But it is his cunning that is most 'frightening', if such characters exist in the human race. He outwits an entire community, King Dosey (Shine Gaveh and Henry Agbai), Queen Fayasey (Jennifer Nimako Boateng), Akpala (Anthony Valiant-Whiz), Odudu, (David Essilfie Quaye) and Elders (Pius Vordzorgbe and Sadat Abubakar).
Eventually, through subterfuge, disguise, murder, and the elimination of a man who assists him along his devious path, Prince Pootagyiri (Silas Hibbert), he secures the hand of the daughter of the local ruler, Princess Sodziisa (Joy Sena Anku and Dzidudu Darkey-Mensah), aptly named King Dosey.
Ananse departs with his bride to enjoy life on an island he has been given. In Ananse in the Land of Idiots, the trickster, anti-hero uses his skill as a weaver, the spider’s traditional craft, and satisfies the desire of those he works with for money in order to weave a web that traps almost all with whom he comes into contact.
Ananse combines Machiavellian ruthlessness with frightful cunning.
The theme for the month of December is the final curtain, and this play crowns all the twelve productions, produced by Professor Martin Owusu and directed variously by Dzifa Glikpoe, Doris Kuwor-nu, Benjamin Okyere Asante, Willie Anku, Derek Sewornu, Martin Owusu, and finally Africanus Aveh.
It is directed by Africanus Aveh of the School of Performing Arts.
Yaw Asare, a playwright, director and choreographer, was educated at the University of Ghana, where he earned a Diploma in Theatre Studies, a Bachelor of Arts in English and Theatre Studies, and a Master of Philosophy in African Studies.
In 1994, he moved to the National Theatre and, for five years, was the artistic director of the resident theatre company, Abibigromma.
During that time his output included, in addition to plays already written, King Kokroko, Bride of the Gods, The Choice, and Ananse and the Price of Greed.
Asare returned to Legon in 1999 as a full-time lecturer at the School of Performing Arts, where he continued to write for the stage, radio, television and video.
Yaw Asare was among the most versatile and accomplished of those active in the Ghanaian theatre. At the time of his passing in 2002, he was probably best known for Ananse in the Land of Idiots, Leopard’s Choice, and Secrets of an Ancient Well.
Venue: National Theatre, Accra
Date: Thursday, December 27 to Sunday December 30, at 7.30 p.m. each night; matinee for families and children on Saturday, December 29, at 2.00 p.m.