Personality Interview: Uncle Ebo Whyte Spills The Beans On His Latest Play ‘Forbidden’
Stage Theater is here to stay. Thanks to the fantastic dedicated work of Ghana’s finest playwright and motivational speaker and leader; Uncle Ebo Whyte.
Over the years, i have laughed to the point of tears and cried through many of his plays and now it looks like Forbidden, his latest play won’t be an exception. I had yet another golden opportunity to interview the very talented director and producer known to have a wonderful love for white shoes.
O. Q I can sense there is going to be something different about Forbidden. Care to share what it is?
E. Whyte : I think over the years, what we have tried to do is to push the frontiers of what is possible on stage in Ghana with the limited resources and technology. However in Forbidden we were able to push the envelope without the use of technology. We used the innovation of using human props. So every prop on the stage is human. The furniture is human, the refrigerator and so is the television. These props interact with the cast and form a key part of the show.
O. Q There forbidden acts which when we undertake lead to dire kickbacks. What are the consequences of forbidden actions?
E. Whyte: I think it depends on the act and why it is forbidden. For instance, in certain contexts office romance is forbidden. In certain institutions outside Ghana where reputation is highly regarded, lets take; a student-lecturer relationship is forbidden. The lecturer can be dismissed because of the relationship. I know of one company in Ghana that has made it forbidden for staff to have amorous relationships. A couple in that company got married and both of them got the sack. In some banks, although its not forbidden they may not put two dating people in the same branch or department. But generally as human beings aren’t we always doing the forbidden? Either because of the excitement of being caught or lack of self-control or the fact that our basal elements gets the better of us. At one point or the other we court with what is forbidden. The consequences of indulging in forbidden acts are often seen over time or occurs instantly. Would you say Tiger Woods did a forbidden act which led to the plunge in his career?
O.Q (I laugh a little bit too loud, as usual)
E. Whyte: And we all know his consequences aren’t over, he is still paying a price for his actions. You can compare this with one African President who can openly boast about how ‘a man from his tribe cannot refuse an offer from a lady’ or ‘he cant keep a woman waiting’. I will not mention the African country though. :-)
O.Q Thisis a question I asked you during my previous interview. What are the plans of Roverman Productions with respect to creating digital versions of the plays?
E. Whyte: Well that has already been done. We have all our plays recorded from when we started which are yet to be released. The delay is our determination in finding ways to increase security on the copies. Aside this issue, I am very passionate about building the culture of Ghanaians dressing up, going out of their homes to a certain space to watch a play in the same space as other people. That community culture is what I am prepared to sacrifice short-term income considerations to build that for the long term. If we ever have a DVD, a lot of people will say ‘Oh we will wait for the DVD’. Even right now we have people who don’t come for the quarter event but say they would wait for the Festival of Plays. And these are people who without the festival would have come to the quarterly event. So if someone can say they would rather wait for the Festival, then they can also say ‘I will wait for the DVD’. So lets build the culture of people dressing up and getting out of the homes and going to the theatre.
O.Q How has been the expat (non-African) attendance to the plays? Has this been measured?
E. Whyte: Its been varying over time. There’s been a particular show where 10% of the audience were Caucasian. I think what happens is that when someone comes to watch the show, if he doesn’t find anything there offensive he shares it through his social networks. So this spreads and some days its quite noticeable to see them seated together in groups. But the BIGGER issue is that the expat community in Ghana or in any African country have given up on seeing anything quality from Africans. They do know that; the show will begin late, it will be disorganized, it will be noisy, it will be lousy. So after taking in a few shows they don’t want to bother anymore. It will take some doing to convince them that there is this particular show that will start on time, isn’t disorganized, is well rehearsed and well packaged and will give them value for their time and money. Why should they make the exception for you when every show they have been to has messed them up. You cant blame them at all. We need to take ourselves serious as Ghanaians. We should remember that whatever I am doing , I am doing on behalf of the Ghanaian populace. If I go on air and talk nonsense, I have said nonsense on behalf of Ghanaians. Because a foreigner may hear me talk and say ‘Wow, is that how these people speak?’ Not ‘Is that how Ebo Whyte speaks?’ They should give us the benefit of the doubt and come and experience it for themselves.
" We need to take ourselves serious as Ghanaians. We should remember that whatever we are doing , we are doing on behalf of the Ghanaian populace. If I go on air and talk nonsense, I have said nonsense on behalf of Ghanaians. Because a foreigner may hear me talk and say ‘Wow, is that how these people speak?’ Not ‘Is that how Ebo Whyte speaks?’ "
O.Q Do you have a favourite cast member in all your plays?
E. Whyte : Yes I do. I can say this and I know no-one will be offended. :-) Amongst the men, there is Andrew Adote. Andrew because, he makes himself available and pushes himself hard to find something new to bring to every role. He is very flexible with a high ability of transforming himself into any role. There are no two roles that are the same for him.
Among the women, I would give that one to Nana Sam. She is new in the group but her love for dance, the quality of her voice and her singing ability makes her stand out incredibly. But I am fortunate to be blessed to be amongst a group of people who although they know they don’t have it, push themselves to get it. An example is a young lady who joined and when she was told she would have to sing, she exclaimed, ‘Me? Sing?’ That has become one of the famous lines in the group. “ Me? Sing?" And today she will be able to handle any key that you give her. I pick two but I am proud of them all because I have been part of their journey. I have seen how they came with nothing and today if you give them a role you get enthralled with what they have gotten to.
Forbidden will be showing at the National Theatre on Saturday 11th July and Sunday 12th July.
Here is a synopsis of the play:
Kwaku Koduah, aka Junior an ace radio personality, finds himself in a dilemma. His lifestyle which he has no intention of changing, hs sent his mother on admission at the hospital and caused his father so much embarrassment that he has had to resign his position as a senior pastor of his church. Now, Junior has to find a way of maintaining his wild lifestyle and at the sme time make his parents happy.
Is the answer Hilda, the innocent sweet and beautiful girl with a fantastic voice whom his parents have adopted? If only he can get the girl to marry him then he can give his parents the impression that he is settling down. But why is his own brother trying to undermine his moves to woo her?
Will Junior get his way and get away with his scheme? And what price will Hilda pay if she ignores the warning not to say yes to Junior?