Suffering under character: this is the continuance of „comprehension of traditonal music“
The program of sister Comfort demanded a research. I have to understand the characters she gave to me. I had to play the main character in all the plays. Therefore I went to various places to study people‘s daily life activities and behaviour.
First of all I remembered my work I did at the Nima market as a child who cleaned the shelters for the market women. I did this work for many years and I got a lot of customers so I needed to „employ“ workers. Of course as I was also a child by then I employed my friends and we shared the money and gifts we got from the market women. So this memory helped me in the beginning for understanding the character for the child labor play. By this time I was working as a two-wheel-truck-pusher at the Malata Market in Accra. I played the character, which was filled with all my experienced emotions to be myself a child worker.
In the play „Drug abuse“ I had to make another research in Nima and go and learn from the adicted persons, some of them were my friends. So I had access to them and the topic.
I found the characte fort he play „teenage pregnancy“ bit harder, because I was a boy and I had no expereinces about the young women. I became then friends with young women who experienced the teenage pregnancy.
With the conversations I had with them, I could act as their boyfriends. With all these experiences my acting became fluent if I am on stage. I made people laugh, I made people get annoyed. Some parents used to cry, because their ciildren were in this situation. Often if we act in schools, some of the teacher encouraged me and told me to continue with art and become a professional, because it was touching them. I was always laughing because they didn’t know, how much I suffered to play this character.
Getting to the end of the program we performed at Nima. There I gave all my power in acting. It was organised by the 31rst women movement of Ghana and it was advertised good. So we got the market women and the youth watching the play. That was without knowing the beginning of a different kind of suffering.
After the program I felt that I am not welcomed anymore for some friends and parents in my area. I didn’t understand why they behave in this way towards me. Later I found out that it is because of the character I played. I played a person in „teenage pregnancy“, who abused the girls. Some of the parents could not accept this as a role telling a story and me being another person. They mixed the character and me into one person.
By then my mother owned a local restaurant and I had to go and buy meat for the restaurant at the Nima market. Immediatly I entered the market the women were yelling on me and called me a lot of bad names. I was surprised and got frustrated. The bad thing was, that I had I have to return to the same place, because I had no other possibilty to choose a different way out of the market. So as I was standing on the meat selling place, my mind was running. I began to understand what was going on and why some of my friends didn’t speak to me anymore and ignored me.
As I was returning from the meat selling place and I reached those women again, they repeated the yelling. I got annoyed and felt ashamed at the same time. I was shouting on them with tears: „This is just a theatre! Leave me in peace!“ But the yelling even increased.
I walked home and felt so empty.
One day I went to the Malata market to work, but some of my friends who watched the theatre were telling me then, that I cannot go and play a theatre about them, come and work again with them.
There also - that character hit me. I didn’t know anymore what to do and where to go. These bad characters followed me everywhere. Suddenly the children of area began to call me by the name of the characters I played. I hde to respond positiv. But the bad experience I got from friends and parents made me to react harsh. Which didn’t help me, because if they begin to tease you in Nima and you react with annoyance it will remain a teasing.
As teenager I didn‘t know what to do. I then had an idea to put the whole thing into a comedy. In stead of reacting with annoyance I made them laugh. I tried to convert the negative feelings into positiv. Slowly I got all the people back, because of the funny jokes and movements I did.
We performed a lot of theatres. Sometimes I had to play a crazy man, a drunkard or a leader of the slaves. Things began to change, when I played the leader slave. People began to feel sympathy and pitty for me. Because I am the leader of the slaves, they punished me more than all the other slaves.
In our group we didn’t use many effects. So the beatings were real and that shocked the audience so much, they got furious.
My character in the play slave trade wiped out all the negative responds in my art work.
From there on I understood how art work can effect people and their view on reality.
Now I can use those experiences in my art work. If I get bad experiences in the art field, I remember those events and I can now accept it in a positiv way.
More about next week….
Peter John Kofi Donkor alias Koria