The coming of Covid-19 to Ghana deprived us of so many privileges. It began as a lockdown which curtailed our movements. And then, people started losing their jobs when their companies started laying off their staff. Some institutions which couldn’t stand the pangs of the pandemic eventually folded up.
Sooner or later, churches went on a recess and bounced back after restrictions were removed. Public vehicles resumed admitting to their full capacity. Students returned to school. Life seemed to be returning to normal. However, a year and a month after Ghana experienced its lockdown, cinemas and theaters are still under lockdown.
Undoubtedly, the creative arts industry is one of the hardest hit as far as the woes of corona are concerned. As long as social gatherings have been banned, the source of livelihood of many whose career hinge on such will become wobbly.
Truth is, if churches are not a breeding ground for the virus, it goes without saying that the cinemas and theaters are not either. If our ‘trotros’ can admit passengers without any social distancing, it is obvious that our cinemas and theaters pose little or no risk to their audience.
We have lived without live entertainment for over a year. In a country where we love storytelling to the bone, it is unfortunate our cinemas and theaters are still closed. It is about time we resumed our cinema and theater culture. At least, these five reasons below should be enough to propel us to open our cinemas and theaters.
There is healing in our theaters and cinemas. The beauty about a well-written movie or stage production is that it has a soothing effect on the audience. Every note of the music that emerges from a stage play or movie can go a long way to heal its audience.
In the times we find ourselves in, the best therapeutic tools to use are our theaters and cinemas. We are surrounded by a great cloud of negative news. We have been ambushed with bad happenings. The corona casualty keeps rising around the world. This is the best moment to use our theaters and cinemas to give Ghanaians the therapy they have been longing for.
A theater or cinema is a different world on its own. In here, magic happens. The stories told here add a whole new variety of colors to life. Different perspectives of life are brought to life in a theater. A camera brings into focus many exciting things about life when we walk into a cinema. This is the healing we need to stay sane all through the hustle and bustle of life. The power of our theaters and cinemas is inherent in their therapeutic power.
A lot of Ghanaians are going through stress. Many are enduring so much pressure from work and life in general. Our cinemas and theaters are the places to go to in order to shed off some stress. If these event centers are busy during the weekends, some Ghanaians can take some time off their busy schedules to be revitalized.
The cast-audience interaction during a live production is all some people need to offload the pain they are going through. The interaction with other moviegoers is all others look forward to in helping them forget their countless problems.
The power our cinemas and theaters wield in relieving people of stress cannot be glossed over. In any community where creative arts is appreciated, there are only a few people who live under stress. This is because of its transforming power.
Our theaters and cinemas are classrooms. They are learning platforms that teach various lessons within a few hours of run-time. A story can educate people on different subjects such as sex, family and children among others. A movie or play can teach people about fields like Science, agriculture and technology among others.
Every story told in a cinema or theater has some sort of education as its foundation. There is always something new to learn. In these times when we are bent on educating the masses on the essence of wearing a face mask, for instance, a theater or cinema would have been the best platform to do so.
The beauty about the education a theater or cinema gives is the ability of its lessons to stay on the minds of its audience. As long as the education was dramatized, the lessons will never depart. This is one of the most important reasons our cinemas and theaters must be opened now.
Nothing beats being treated to some great romantic comedy every weekend in a cinema. There is nothing as entertaining as watching a riveting musical at the theater. Stage productions and movies come with a world of entertainment. They are a potpourri of everything we regard as entertainment ― from music to dance.
With many Ghanaians still unsure about the future of corona, our cinemas and theaters could be the safest places to be entertained to ease the uncertainty of such people. Watching a virtual show may not carry the same weight of entertainment as a live one.
Our theaters and cinemas provide decent entertainment for families. From the youngest to the oldest, there is always something to be entertained about. Opening such places up should be treated as an urgency.
A typical stage production brings together a team of not less than 100 people. Putting together a standard movie even requires a lot more people, at least, a production team of about 150. This points to the employability of the theater and movie industry and how profitable it is for those in the production value chain.
Closing theaters and cinemas means that there are thousands out there who will continually have no idea of where their daily bread is going to come from. Keeping such places shut means the needs of the dependents of all these creative people who benefit directly from the industry are never going to be met.
In our bid to safeguard Ghanaians from the virus, let’s not needlessly push them into the arms of poverty. In an attempt to stop the spread of Covid-19, we must be careful not to deprive people of their daily bread. Hunger is a more dangerous virus than corona. A hungry man is a threat to the entire society.
Open our theaters and cinemas now!!!
By Kobina Ansah
The writer is a Ghanaian playwright and Chief Scribe of Scribe Communications (www.scribecommltd.com), an Accra-based writing firm. Connect with him on all social media platforms.