The Unique Forms and Functions of Indigenous Ghanaian Performing and Verbal Arts

Jul 13 2020 Published by under Uncategorized

Performing arts are the arts that are played or performed which exists only in a stream of time. This form of arts is evident in every activity that the indigenous Ghanaian performs, from the washing of the face right from bed, through undertakings of his/her daily activities, to the time he/she retires to bed. Examples of the performing art forms practiced and used by the indigenous Ghanaians in their everyday life activities include music, dance, and drama.

On the other hand, verbal arts are those that are performed with the mouth with or without body gestures. They are usually spoken with the mouth. Indigenous Ghanaian verbal arts include folklores, tales, appellations, dirges, poetry etc.

Music

Music permeates and accompanies all the activities undertaken by the indigenous Ghanaians such as hunting, fishing, farming, trading etc. Music is played during festivals, rituals, marriage ceremonies, funeral ceremonies, puberty rites, naming and outdooring ceremonies, funeral rites etc. They played various roles such as entertainment, worship of deities, veneration and inviting of the ancestors, etc. Various musical instruments were used for the composing and playing of the music. They included stringed instruments (hites, lyres), wind instruments (flutes, horns), self-sounding instruments (drums, rattle) etc. Music was specially performed in the royal palaces, town squares, courtyards, parks, and streets. The lyrics of the music embody the religious and cultural beliefs of the indigenous Ghanaians, as well as their ideologies, norms, and values. They were purely educative and were used as a channel for moral instruction.

Dance

Dance, like music, plays a vibrant role in the lives of the indigenous Ghanaians. They ranged from graceful movements to very vigorous movements depending on the style of dance and the occasion and context within which the dance is performed. A dance was performing at naming ceremonies, funeral rites, festivals, religious activities, storytelling sessions etc. Some of the dance movements were symbolic and carried important messages. For instance, the dance performed at durbars, festivals, ritualistic performances and ceremonies of the ancestors by a traditional priest and his attendance were interpreted as messages from the ancestors to the people especially the king. Others were purely for entertainment to relieve stress and enjoy oneself.

Drama

Indigenous Ghanaian drama was evident at virtually all places such as the market and public squares, farms, chop bars, meeting places etc. It was performed at storytelling, initiation rites, and ceremonies of the ancestors to instruct the people concerning the laws, norms, taboos and beliefs of the people. They usually illustrated themes regarding the repercussions of not heeding to the laws and traditions handed down by the ancestors. Moral lessons on how to live a good life were enshrined in the drama performances.

Folklores

They are the unwritten or oral stories that portray the culture of a group or community. Indigenous Ghanaian folklores narrate the activities and events of our forefathers and the origin of our societal laws, values, and norms. They are mediums through which the young ones in the society familiarize themselves with their own cultural heritage. These stories are viewed as true and are taken with all seriousness.

Tales

They are stories narrated to entertain and educate people. They are usually fictitious with unreal characters. They are sometimes full of exaggerations and lies though they are used in highlighting the woes in breaking the laid down rules, customs and taboos of the ancestors in the indigenous Ghanaian communities.

Appellations

These are praises shouted on a god, ancestor, king or important personality recounting his achievements, character, and ego. They are shouted on kings and important personalities during important occasions such as durbars, festivals, and ceremonies before they take their seat at a function. During ceremonies where the ancestors ought to be invited, their appellations are sounded. It was believed by the indigenous Ghanaians that doing this would attract favor, goodwill, blessing and help from the ancestors.

Proverbs

They are short wise sayings that illustrate the bravery of the ancestors. They explain the laws, norms, and ideas of the indigenous Ghanaians. They were narrated at festivals, ceremonies and at storytelling times as a form of moral, cultural and social education for the people.

Dirges

They are words composed for the deceased. They are narrated to console and comfort the bereaved family and sympathizers during funeral ceremonies of their loved ones in the indigenous Ghanaian communities. They educate us on the brevity of our life and the wickedness attributed to death, and the hope that we have to live again. In most occasions, musical instruments accompany these dirges.

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Performing Arts and Its Branches

Jul 13 2020 Published by under Uncategorized

Dance, drama and music that are performed in front of many people or audiences are known to belong in performing arts. This type of art is different from plastic arts which only involve several artworks made from different type of materials like clay, paint, wood and metal. These artworks are often created by many artists and are displayed during exhibits but unlike performing arts, the presence of the artists is not required or is not necessary at all. When it comes to performing arts, the artists themselves together with their performances are the ones that the audiences are interested in. These people are then commonly known as performers.

This type of art is not new to the society because this has been around for so many years now. It actually started centuries ago. This type or art is even more common in schools all over the world and it often involves a number of people who all have the passion to please the crowd by showcasing their talents. By wearing a huge variety of costumes, wigs, masks, foot wears and other accessories, an artist becomes/transforms to a totally different person in front of the crowd and then performs.

As mentioned earlier, there are three branches of performing arts – the dance, drama and music. The first type of performing arts is dance which basically refers the movements of the human body using a particular rhythm. Performing a dance is not only intended to please the crowd but it is also a way to express the performer’s sentiments. It is also a way of showing the people different types of cultures or telling them about the history of a certain place. A dance can be in several forms like folk dance, ballet and many more.

Another branch of performing arts is the drama which is mainly about acting in front of the people. In a drama, the performers act out a particular story in order to entertain their audience. Aside from acting, music, dance, sound, speeches and other elements of performing arts are used for the best performance.

And the last branch of performing arts is music. Music does not only refer to the musical instruments or the sounds that they make, it also involves the people who play the instruments and the voices of the people singing. Music basically started several years ago and from then it became one of the most popular ways to entertain people. Usually, there are four things which make music complete – the pitch, rhythm, dynamic and the timbre.

Each of the branches of performing arts plays a very important role in the entertainment world. All these things make performing arts complete and very interesting. Not only because it is a very good way to entertain people but because this is also a way for other people to see the skills and talents of the performers. It is also a very good way to let the whole world know on what are the things that the performers can do and offer.

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Choosing The Best Performing Arts Programs: Yale School of Drama

Jul 13 2020 Published by under Uncategorized

While you’ve probably heard of Yale University, how about the Yale School of Drama? In fact, it’s become one of the top Drama Schools in the entire world. The more you know about the program, the more likely you’ll be to become a part of it.

It all began in 1924. That’s when Yale University founded its Department of Drama within its School of Fine Arts. It was the result of a donation from Edward S. Harkness, who had earned a B.A. from Yale in 1897. The Department of Drama’s first class began taking classes in 1925. Later, Yale began offering a Masters of Fine Arts, in 1931. And in 1955, the Yale School f Drama became an individual professional school of Yale University. By this time, the school was offering both a Masters and Doctorate in Fine Arts.

Here are some of the biggest features of the Yale School of Drama

1. Repertory Theatre

This is certainly one of the drama school’s most prominent features. For decades, the theatre has featured the productions of both classic and original plays. Interestingly, it was one of the first resident theaters whose works were later transferred to the world of commercial theatre-including Broadway. This practice has made the Repertory Theatre one of the most innovative ones in the USA.

2. Faculty

Another forte of the Yale School of Drama is its outstanding faculty. Its most notable faculty members have trained their students in areas such as Design, Playwriting, Directing, and Acting. The School of Drama’s faculty members are the essence of the school, as they’re responsible for shaping future professionals in the industry.

3. Alumni

Several renowned professionals in the theater, TV, and movie industries have graduated from Yale University’s School of Drama. Some of the most notable alumni include:

Angela Bassett: Boyz n the Hood (1991), Malcolm X (1992)

Paul Newman: Hud (1963), Cool Hand Luke (1967), Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), The Sting (1973), Slap Shot (1977), The Color of Money(1986), Road to Perdition (2002)

Ed Norton: Primal Fear (1996), American History X (1998), Fight Club (1999)

Sigourney Weaver: Alien (1979), Aliens (1986), Wall-E (2008), Avatar (2009)

Meryl Streep: Too many to list!!!!!

4. Tradition

Not only is the Yale School of Drama one of the top drama schools in the USA, but it also has the nation’s second-oldest theater association in colleges. In fact, the Yale Dramatic Association was founded over a century ago, in 1900. Afterwards, the association put on several productions, including both classic and original plays.

5. Structure

This is yet another of the main features of the Yale School of Drama. Students of the school spend their mornings taking classes. Then in the afternoons, the students prepare for productions of the School of Drama and Yale Repertory Theatre. The students also spend time watching productions of their colleagues. While the schedule is hectic, it helps to produce outstanding professionals in the industry.

Not only is Yale one of the oldest university’s in the USA, but it also boasts of one of the oldest and best Drama Schools as well.

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Three Pivotal Figures in 20th Century Performing Arts

Jul 13 2020 Published by under Uncategorized

What makes the performing arts so special? While loosely, one might apply the term to any sort of presentation before an audience, critics have historically used the label to separate dance, music, and theater performance from the “static” visual arts. A painter, writer, or photographer can effectively transmit their work and their messages through time and even across significant cultural or linguistic barriers-preserving a moment, a vision, or an idea in a permanent medium. We get perhaps as close as we can to time traveling by looking at a Stieglitz photograph, some lines of Dante, or a cave-painting on an ancient wall, able to see (at least almost) the same thing that the creator did at the moment of inception or execution.

The performing arts, on the other hand, are time-limited. We can’t ever really know what a Shakespeare play was like for the audience, aside from a few well-preserved accounts, and are instead left confronting his plays more as a part of literary history than theater. Nor can we ever know what it might have been like to have witnessed the first performance of Swan Lake at the Bolshoi Theater in 1895. Part of the magic is how they serve as a sort of event or spectacle, a one-of-a-kind occurrence that, even in the age of HD digital recording, can still only exist in full in the memory of those who were there to see it happen.

Especially over the course of the twentieth century, the performing arts have been host to a few particularly significant developments. At the peak of artistic exploration in the post-war period, dancers, playwrights, and musicians used their mediums to respond to a growing need for new forms-the idea that the changing conditions of the world demanded a different sort of art than what had come before. While this drive could be identified in the visual arts as well, it was on stage that the artist could directly confront their audiences with a new way of thinking about things. Here are three key innovators any theater-goer should know about.

Antonin Artuad: A writer, critic, and playwright inspired by the existential writings of Friedrich Nietzsche and Jacques Derrida, Artuad believed that theater for the 21st century must incorporate a sense of life’s harshness in a way that Romantic and Modern forms had been unable to. Emphasizing an embrace of chaos in the face of nihilism and a cross-cultural engagement with a diverse variety of traditional forms, Artuad’s insistence on breaking free of the limits of language and into the unexplored spaces of gesture and sound had a lasting impact on generations of dramatists and performers to come.

Merce Cunningham: While Artuad turned to philosophy and Eastern cultures for inspiration, this dancer and choreographer incorporated elements of chance as a way of embracing the organic chaos of the creative process, incorporating random choices into the compositional process. While some of the outcomes might not be artistically serviceable, incorporating this aleatory element opened the artist up to new & surprising possibilities. Later in life, Cunningham continued to push the limits of the performing arts medium by experimenting with film and motion capture technologies, finding new ways to document and archive these former one-of-a-kind experiences.

John Cage: Cunningham’s lifelong partner, Cage applied the variable aspects of chance to his musical performances, inspired by the ancient Chinese text I Ching, a divination manual known in the West as the Book of Changes. By consulting the patterns and sequences of the manuscript, Cage sought not so much to bring an order to what he saw as the chaos of life, but rather a redirection of attention; an awareness of the natural state of existence. While Cage may be best known for his composition 4’33”-four minutes and thirty-three seconds of silence from a performer sitting at a piano, the performing arts have enjoyed a lasting contribution from his work with unusual instrumentation and innovative use of new recording technology.

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Help Your Kids Enjoy a Trip to a Performing Arts Theatre

Jul 13 2020 Published by under Uncategorized

Taking children to a performing arts theatre can help them develop an interest in the arts and drama, but planning the excursion can be stressful for many parents. Though there will always be a bit of chaos when asking young children to sit through a performance of any kind, be it live theatre or a film, there are a few things parents can do to better prepare for the experience. Here are a few tips to help families have a successful and enjoyable trip to a live show.

Explain the Process to the Kids

Unless the trip is a surprise, many children do better during plays and performances when the process and rules are explained to them. Before arriving at the venue, let them know what to expect. Help them understand the story, so they’ll be better prepared to view the show with minimal interruptions. Explain what the curtain call means and let them know what’s expected of them once they’re in their seats. Preparing kids to attend the show is one of the most important steps for having a successful trip.

Pick the Right Play

There are plays in just about every genre, but some of them are best suited to a more mature audience. Try to choose a show that the kids will find interesting and entertaining. If they’re engaged with the characters and actively show interest in the performance, they’ll enjoy the experience far more than if the show contains subject matter that goes over their heads. Best of all, most children’s plays are rather forgiving of rambunctious behaviour and audience participation, so interruptions won’t be frowned upon or distract the cast from their performance.

Give Them Something to Do While They Wait

If parking at the performing arts theatre is limited, it may be helpful to arrive early, but avoid settling into the lobby for a long wait before curtain call. Try to find nearby attractions or take the kids out to a restaurant before the production. That way, the kids will be occupied and entertained rather than waiting in a lobby for the show to start in an hour or two. If waiting is the only option, let the kids bring a few toys or a book to stay entertained.

It’s Okay to Leave

Some characters or events in plays can frighten children, even if they’re familiar with the story. If a child is upset by a character’s portrayal or the dimming theatre lights trigger their fear of the dark, don’t make them suffer through it. It’s okay to get up and leave a performance to help children understand what they’re seeing and help them calm down. Once they’re ready to return to their seats, the ushers will help with navigation through the dim lighting when movement from the lobby won’t interrupt the cast.

Everyone can enjoy a trip to a performing arts theatre, but these tips should help make the trip easier with kids. Encourage their passion for creative expression and take them to a live show!

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Contemporary Ghanaian Performing Arts

Jul 13 2020 Published by under Uncategorized

Contemporary Ghanaian performing arts have been influenced by foreign culture, technology, and education. It is a synergy of the indigenous performing arts with the Western cultural forms of performing arts. There are three main forms of performing arts practiced by the Ghanaians today. These are music, dance, and drama.

Music

Ghanaian contemporary music has been influenced by foreign music styles and concepts though there is not a total eradication of the indigenous music styles. Some contemporary Ghanaian musicians blend the indigenous and foreign music styles in composing their songs. The foreign music styles that have influenced Ghanaian music today include jazz, pop music, Blues, Rock and Roll, Reggae, Ragga, R&B, Indian and Arabic songs. Contemporary Ghanaian music includes highlife which has more of the indigenous music elements, the hip-life which fuses slow lyric choruses with Ragga or rap music. Currently, there is the hip-pop music that is an exact rendition of the Western style of music though the lyrics and language are mostly Ghanaian in nature. There is also the church or choral music, brass band music, regimental or military music as well as the classical music.

Several foreign musical instruments are used hand in hand with the indigenous musical instruments. These include guitars, pianos, trumpets like the saxophone, foreign drums, cymbals etc. Unlike indigenous Ghanaian music, contemporary Ghanaian music is recorded in high technological recording studios where other artificial elements are added to the originally composed music to bring it to foreign standards. They are then copied on Compact Disks, DVD’S, VCD’S, EVD’S etc.

Contemporary Ghanaian music is played at theatres, church services, parties, concerts, dance halls, and parks. They are played during religious services to enhance praises and worship. They are also played during social functions like marriage feasts, sporting activities and the like to entertain those in attendance. During workshops, talks, and seminars, music is played to relieve stress and boredom during intermissions of the program. They are played to boost the morale of competitors in various forms of competitions. Others are played to educate us on morality, patriotism and nationalism. There are various music contest and competitions held in Ghana to promote music. These include TV3 Mentor, X-Factor, etc.

Popular contemporary Ghanaian music stars include Dr. Ephraim Amu who composed various Coral songs for the Ghanaian community. Others include Agya Koo Nimo, Cindy Thompson, Yaw Sarpong, Daddy Lumba, Kojo Antwi, Nana Acheampong, Obrafo, Sarkodie etc.

Dance

Contemporary Ghanaian dance, like music, has been influenced by foreign dance styles. Some of these foreign dance styles include cracking, electric boogie etc. Dance is performed to entertain people and to express their sentiments towards one another. Contemporary Ghanaian dance forms include quickstep, mambo, waltz, foxtrot, salsa, boogie, cha-cha-cha, robot movement, twist, break and now, Azonto. These dance styles are performed at various functions such as church, weddings, funerals, parties, durbars, and festivals etc. Several dance competitions are held today in Ghana to promote dancing such as the Malta Guinness Street Dance contest. Dancing is now a very lucrative enterprise in contemporary Ghana.

Drama

Contemporary Ghanaian drama is performed on a stage in a theatre. Unlike the indigenous Ghanaian drama where the audience sometimes interact with the audience while the performance is in season, contemporary Ghanaian drama is performed uninterrupted by the actors and actresses who play the various roles in the story depicted in the performance. The audience, however, participates by clapping, booing and shouting in a bid to express their sentiments towards the performance. Contemporary Ghanaian drama includes plays, comedies, operas, and cantatas.

Popular contemporary Ghanaian drama groups include the Abibigroma drama group, the National Dance Ensemble, Osofo Dadzie drama group, Adabraka drama Troupe and the Tsadidi drama group. Popular drama themes in contemporary Ghana include the ‘The Black African Slave Trade, by the National Dance Ensemble, ‘Ananse and the gun man’ by Joe deGraft, ‘The dilemma of a ghost’ by Ama Ataa Aidoo and the celebrated ‘Marriage of Anansewaa’ by Efua Sunderland.

Contemporary Ghanaian drama is staged in churches and mosques to illustrate some Christian themes to educate members about the Christian and Muslim doctrines and the relevance of leading a good moral life in line with the principles and regulations of God. During social gatherings, parties, and festivals, drama is performed to entertain those in attendance. Others are staged to educate the general public on social issues such as healthy living, personal hygiene, laws and norms of the land, patriotism and the like.

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