Cinderama – Review


It gets 4 of 5 KHA’s.

Cinderama was a lovely and vivid play, easily the best I have seen at the National Theatre.

The play, which I wrote about last week here, was written by Efo Kodjo Mawugbe and had some funny and quirky details such as a storyteller who doubled as the Chief’s/King’s linguist or spokesperson and who switched between his roles with a comic “duty calls”. A prince who was studying in London and came onto stage with a hand luggage trolley. A main character in Cinderama who over all wanted to study “agricultural engineering” and who’s beads – not shoe – was left behind at the palace as an only clue to the one who caught the prince’s heart…

The direction of the crew of 16 by Fransesca Quartey was clearly successful in that the message came across (children have rights too!) and through imaginative and quick transitions between scenes (this is normally a problem in Ghanaian theatre). Also, I had to control myself to not shed a tear only 10 minutes into the play. We shrieked with laughter in other scenes. Well done!

Light and sound was coached by Technical Producer Tobias Stål and added a professional feel to the story. Afterwards someone said that the smoke maschine has not come on, well, we did not miss it!

Costumes were colorful and with that extra theatre glamour inclusive of glittering stones, gold threads and many costume changes by costume designer Fabiola Opare Darko and beads – which played an important role – by Kati Torda of Suntrade.

However, some scenes, particularly the one with the gravedigger was in local languages which left out parts of the crowd when others laughed seemingly without end. Throughout the 1,5 hours of the play the worst clichés were avoided, but towards the finale the fairytale ending became almost too sweet with Cinderama vowing to stay in Ghana to “help her country” and the prince nodding along. The interesting nuances in the evil sisters’ behavior earlier in the play were gone when curtains were drawn.

All in all, Cinderama is a heartwarming story.

And the best is yet to come, as the play now leaves the National Theatre and Accra and starts touring the country. I feel so glad many young people in Ghana will have the chance to embrace Cinderama and see family theatre at its best!

Ps. After touring in Ghana, the play travels to Sweden see schedule here or order your own performance here.

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>Première: Cinderama, the African Cinderella

> Greetings, my people. [..] I have travelled across hills and mountains, crossing streams and rivers, big and small and lakes and forests, thick and thin. [..] I have a good story for you. In facts it is the very reason for my journey…

The National Theatre of Ghana in cooperation with Swedish National Touring Theatre proudly presents:

Cinderama, the African Cinderella

An old tale in a new setting.
A play by Efo Kodjo Mawugbe.
Directed by Fransesca Quartey.

This Saturday the 6 March, 6pm at the National Theatre, Accra (Tickets 20 GHC, minors 10 GHC) you will have a chance to see the play before it goes on tour in Ghana, starting with the Volta region.

The play is a family play with lots of music and I am totally excited about seeing a Swedish-Ghanaian collaboration on Ghanaian soil.

Hope to see you there!

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>Ghana Loves Haiti Concert

The Friends of Haiti and Ghana Red Cross has sent out a joint press release about an upcoming concert to raise funds for our brothers and sisters in Haiti.

The campaign consists of a star-studded benefit concert in solidarity with the People of Haiti which will be staged at Alliance Francaise on Saturday the 23rd of January; and an SMS campaign aimed at raising GHC two million. The venue for the concert has been donated by Alliance Francaise, with all the billed artistes also performing free of charge.

Except for putting together a b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l poster, the stars performing are really stars too, Kojo Antwi, Kubolor, Kwabena Kwabena, Black Rasta, Becca, Ambolley and many more. Tickets go for 10 GHC. On top of that Foundation for Contemporary Art, will also have an exhibition in the same space where 30% of the proceeds will go to the Ghana Red Cross fund for Haiti.

To conclude, there seems to be many reasons for attending this event, out of which the noblest is of course to extend a hand to the suffering people in Haiti, but I’ll be going to shake my ass just a little bit as well.

Fellow Ghana bloggers Holli , Obed , Edward, MacJordan and Nana Kofi seem to also be thinking about Haiti.

Are you?

Pic: From the official invite to the concert, courtesy Ghana Red Cross and Friends of Haiti.

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>Ashesi Campus Groundbreaking in Berekuso

> On Saturday, I was fortunate to experience the groundbreaking – or sod-cutting – of the new Ashesi University Campus in Berekuso, up in the Akuapim Hills in Ghana. This beautiful hill lies about an hour drive north of Accra and was breezy and green on this joyous day.

The university which is currently housed in a residential area in down-town Accra, hopes on this campus extend its student population from 400 to 600 and of course provide a less distracting and more beautiful environment.

The ceremony came off to a bit of a late start, but that was lucky since the townfolk of Berekuso had to climb the steep hill by foot and arrived just in time for the chiefs’ arrival. I can safely say all of Berekuso town were there, small and big, clad in gold, colorful cloths or in school uniform.

The whole experience was wonderful, but I think the most touching part of the day was when the chief explained how welcome the university was by telling us that a residential developer had inquired about purchasing that very hill for a project.

– But we would rather have an educational institution here in Berekuso.

Or maybe the most emotional part was when we cheered for Patric Awuah, the founder of the University during the presentation of dignitaries. And then his mother was introduced and the crowd went from loud cheer to complete euphoria!(Gotta love the Ghanaian mother-centered culture!)

Other articles on this event were written by Friends of Ashesi/Todd Warren, Peace FM, and the official version here.

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>Tropical Contemporary Architecture: How to build a house in Ghana

> What is more urban than buildings?

Let me start the born-again blog with posting something on Ghanaian architecture or more precisely things to think about when building your house in the tropics.

Currently, there is a building boom in Ghana and virtually every other person seems to be building a house. Cement prices just hit the roof (see this article) and this coming weekend Ghana’s first ever (?) home improvement fair is taking place. Also,this is a topic that just recently has started to interest me, I guess with the opportunity of one day building my own house in Ghana drawing nearer…

First of all, lets think about the property/land you need to acquire. Fortunately, the blog Makola Law has done a checklist on what to think about here.

Second, there are ways to build a house that is environmentally friendly, cost effective and automatically cool. Forget expensive and unhealthy ACs! Check out the inspiring and sometimes surprisingly simple tips for tropical design at Aedhotep Developments. Just to give you an example of something easy to do:

Plant tall trees on the east and west sides of the house to shade walls

Other options include using a new technique to build, such as the one provided by ItalConstruct in Ghana which uses polystyrene sheets and iron mesh to create a house that imitates a cooling box! See a video on the technique here.

Third, when you have a plot and a sustainable structure…what makes a house Ghanaian? Is it Kente style design of the exterior that I wrote on here? Or adinkra symbols like a friend has incorporated in his home exterior? Is it a compound style design like the traditional Ghanaian houses? It is using Ghanaian materials like bamboo and clay bricks? Using African architects? Or is just any house in Ghana a Ghanaian house?

Picture of a, in my view lovely, Ghanaian contemporary designed house courtesy of Aedhotep Developments.

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>The Perfect Picture : Film Review

> So I have now been to see the wholly Ghanaian produced film, The Perfect Picture, I wrote about earlier here.

Shirley Frimpong-Mansu is the super-woman behind script, directions, casting and editing. And it was perfect! I went with my husband and some friends and we all had our laughs and loved the high audiovisual quality…as well as the story line. Three good friends – so good you wish you were one of them – are looking for love. One gets married in the opening scene, one is a man-eater and the last one says she will never marry. Here the intrigues start.

The film held a high tempo and included a entertaining and believable characters, references to daily life in Ghana “you make it sound like I could just go and pick up a baby at Koala!” (Koala supermarket being a popular supermarket in Accra) or “I’m not a fan of weddings, but you my friend make it worth every pesewa!” (pesewa being the Ghanaian equivalent to cent, penny or öre) and even a fun, feminist take on car chase.

The film also contained obvious product placements that were acceptable only because we have never seen Ghanaian ones before. For instance, one can only feel excitement when the three friends even went to see a film in the same cinema complex we were watching them in!

And then sex. Appearantly, the film set itself apart from all other Ghanaian productions EVER when it showed a kiss on the lips between the newlyweds in the first scene. After that, we got both scenes from different bedrooms (see the trailer above) as well as “sex-and-the-city”-kind of girlfriend talk on the topic. I think the Ghanaian audience was shocked at times (even though the scenes never really went beyond regular Hollywood steam) and at one point a woman sitting close to me in the dark exclaimed:

Oh, will we watch just kiss-kiss-kiss?

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>The Afro’Lick Trick

> I was at a thing for professionals in Ghana last week. It was a network meeting including the beautiful people of Accra and the businesses who want to brand themselves to this group.

Among other things a magazine called Canoe was distributed. The background to the name is according to the editorial:

Canoe is simply Canoe; one of Ghana’s main modes of transport some golden years back. The carted everything; luxury items, alcohol, grocery, livestock, waxprint, tradestock, weapons and ferried people across seas and villages linked with rivers.

And fair enough, the mag Canoe brings to us articles on luxury items like cars and technology, imagery containing alcohol and fashion and ads for expensive hotels and boutiques. But also, and more interestingly, the magazine uses a positive language when speaking of African things. When I flipped though the glossy pages these words really popped out, probably because “African-ness” is rarely spoken about in such a way. Some examples:

InnoNative Housing (on environmentally friendly Ghanaian architecture), Afro’Lick (about latest trends), Afroluxe (about latest gadgets), African Values (in an ad also stating “proudly Ghanaian”) and Afrosexual (in a fashion reportage to describe the black models sexual orientation as preferring African partners? Usage not entirely clear).

So will a publication showing that Africans also like to indulge in champagne and fast cars change the image of Africa? Surely not, the focus on consuming luxury items to display success isn’t new, constructive or even interesting (yawn!)at all. But I find that the use of Afri-positive language gives a juicy Afro’Lick on InnoNative Afrique-futures.

In the pic some beautiful people at the launch of above described magazine borrowed from, Ghanas only model agency – seemingly highly involved in the CanoeQuarterly.

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