Fulbright Scholar in Ghana

 Wallace Bridges, Fulbright Scholar
wbridges@emich.edu
edfirst 2014_06_Ghana-Flag-HD-Wallpaper

Sunday, June 12, 2016 (posted)

After a little more than 5 months, the Ghana portion of my Fulbright project has ended and I am back in Michigan.  In the next few weeks I will review and organize photos, videos and documentation supporting my experience of a lifetime in Ghana.  In reflection I have met my project objectives I had proposed before visiting Ghana.  I taught two theatre courses, Theatre Making Concepts, a graduate course, and Directing II on the undergraduate level.  And, I directed A Raisin in the Sun with Ghanaian university and community actors, designers, crew and faculty.  I advised, observed, and guided reflection with the directing students.  They were required to direct stage productions in the Efua T. Sutherland  Drama Studio which contributed to a large portion of their course work.  My own directing project, A Raisin in the Sun ran for two weekends at the Efua T. Sutherland Drama Studio on the University of Ghana-Legon campus.  That experience was preceded by my consulting the stage director of the National Theatre of Ghana production.  The research portion of my Fulbright project involved directing A Raisin in the Sun at the University Ghana-Legon, and directing the same play at Eastern Michigan University during the 2016-2017 season.  The research will culminate with a film documentary that will compare those two directing experiences.

My family and I also had opportunities to make new friends through my directing and teaching collaborations.  We also traveled around Ghana and absorbed some of the lifestyle and culture.  We not only enjoyed new friends and collaborators, but experienced Ghana’s art and culture, as well as natural resources like parks and beaches.  We also adapted well as foreigners visiting a culture that in some cases operates differently than in the United States.  I would like to visit Ghana again for travel, culture and education.

BALME LIBRARY | University of Ghana-Legon
BALME LIBRARY | University of Ghana-Legon

Friday, June 10, 2016 (posted)


Here are a few of the samples from a recent visit to the Koforidua Beads Market. Perhaps, some family and friends will be wearing some of the beads, bracelets and necklaces we found there.


Tuesday, June 7, 2016 (posted)

uglegongradstatue
Pride in education at the University of Ghana-Legon!


Sunday, June 5, 2016 (posted)


We took a great tour of the Adanwomase Kente Village in Adanwomase, Ghana.  Our tour guide, Cosmos, was very knowledgeable and communicative on the process of making Kente cloth.  He kept our interest and led us through the factory and the stores in Adanwomase.


Friday, May 27, 2016 (posted)


When we returned to Accra we visited the Wild Gecko store again.  This time I returned to the nearby basket weaver, Ben and his wife Georgina.  We had purchased a basket or two the last time we were here.  This time I made more purchases and Ben gave me permission to photograph and film him and his wife at work.  Some of my close friends and family will appreciate the gifts I found for them here.



We returned to Beyin after our visit to Nzulezo and the next day we toured Fort Apollonia.  To reach the fort we walked about a quarter mile down the beach from the resort.  Our tour guide there, Frederick, took us through the fort explaining the history.



From Beyin we took a canoe ride with our tour guide, Francis to the Nzulezo Stilt Village.  The canoe trip began in Beyin and took about an hour.  In the shallow channel, Francis did all the work pushing with a pole from the rear of the canoe.  When we got to deep water he changed to a paddle and offered me one to help.  When we arrived at Nzulezo, Francis walked us down the main “street,” which was actually a boardwalk.  We also visited the primary school there and received a sit down presentation on the local area.  Nzulezo is an agrarian fishing village where there is also a bit a farming.



In Ghana’s Western Region we visited the Beyin Beach Resort where we relaxed facing the Atlantic Ocean.  From there we had the opportunity to visit the Nzulezo Stilt Village arriving by canoe.  The next day we toured Fort Apollonia, fort built by the Spanish in the 17th century.


Sunday, May 22, 2016 (posted)


Images from the Women’s Lifestyle Expo at the Alliance Français Accra in Accra, Ghana.


 

Monday, May 16, 2016 (posted)


The slide show includes some of the wildlife we saw at the Mole National Park.


Sunday, May 15, 2016 (posted)

basketweaver

This craftsman hand weaves baskets and other items in Accra, Ghana.  We purchased a basket, and plan to return for more.


elephantswater
Elephants at a watering hole on safari at the Mole National Park in northern Ghana.

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Elephants on safari at the Mole National Park in northern Ghana.


larabangamosque

The Larabanga Mosque is the oldest standing mosque in Ghana.  It is located in Larabanga, a town near the Mole National Park in northern Ghana.


greathall1
The Great Hall is a prominent feature on the University of Ghana-Legon campus.


balmelibrary2
The Balme Library is a prominent feature of the University of Ghana-Legon campus.


Sunday, May 1, 2016 (posted)

On the day after closing A Raisin in the Sun, Sunday, April 24, my wife and I flew to Kumasi for the Akwasadae Festival held on the Manhyia Palace Museum grounds.  This festival celebrates Ashanti culture every sixth Sunday and features processions from various tribes including their chiefs, umbrellas and supporters.  We also visited the Manhyia Museum to learn about Ashanti history and culture.


Sunday, May 1, 2016 (posted)

We closed A Raisin in the Sun at the Efua T. Sutherland Drama Studio on the campus of the University of Ghana-Legon on Saturday, April 23.  The last two days included full audiences and very positive feedback.  With the closing of the show, the school term has also ended with the close of April.  The month of May involves exams and turning in of grades for my two classes: Directing II (undergraduate) and Theatre Making Concepts (graduate).  The directing students had directed fully staged productions in the Drama Studio at different times during the semester.  The graduate class will present their final scenes as their practical examination later in May.  It is my intention to travel to various places in Ghana to relax and to enjoy the culture and attractions–with more photos to come!


Monday, April 18, 2016 (posted)

We have successfully opened A Raisin in the Sun at the Efua T. Sutherland Drama Studio on the campus of the University of Ghana-Legon.  The show ran on April 14, 15 and 16, and will run again on April 21, 22, and 23.  The show begins promptly at 7 p.m.  If you haven’t already seen the show, be sure to get your ticket at the door this weekend!  If you have seen it, come back to see it again–and bring your family and friends!  The production of A Raisin in the Sun here in Ghana is the first of two; the second will be produced at my home school, Eastern Michigan University.  Both production processes of Lorraine Hansberry’s classic American play will be compared and contrasted in a video documentary that I will produce as the research component of my Fulbright Scholar project.


Sunday, April 10, 2016 (posted)

ARITS Poster 600x849
A Raisin in the Sun
runs on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, April 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23, 2016.  Today, I am going to the Drama Studio to assist the set designers in putting up the set, and the lighting designer in hanging the lights.  The production process works very differently here from what I have experienced in my career.


Monday, April 4, 2016 (posted)

 

On Saturday, March 19 I attended the Francophonie Festival at Alliance Française of Accra in Accra, Ghana.  There were a number of food, music and vendor attractions there.  So, my family and I had a nice breakfast, and shopped at some of the vendor locations.  I always enjoy wearing African bracelets, so I was able to find three bracelets this time.  Usually, the bracelets I find are too small and stretch fitting tightly on my wrists.  With this vendor, he was able to add one or two beads to each of the three bracelets I purchased for a comfortably loose fit where most bracelets just squeeze my wrists.  I love these bracelets, and intend to find more for myself, and for a friend before I leave.


Sunday, March 27, 2016 (posted)
Easter Sunday

 

While visiting the Cape Coast Castle I participated in a first class tour of the castle, and what the captured Africans endured as they were stored there.  The tour guide took us into the dungeons and cells, and explained how the castle was utilized during the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade.


 

This Easter weekend my family and I enjoyed our time in Cape Coast and Elmina, Ghana.  In Cape Coast we visited the Cape Coast Castle, which served to house and move captured Africans through the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade.  In nearby Elmina, we stayed at the Elmina Bay Resort next door to the Coconut Grove Resort.  In the photo I am horsing around with a Coconut Grove employee and his horse.



On Friday morning I walked to my office to run an errand, and on the way I noticed a large group of people participating in an Easter Passion Service.  It was clearly a religious service combined with a re-inactment of Christ’s walk while carrying the cross.  From a theatrical perspective the images were very striking!



Next, I visited the Efua T. Sutherland Drama Studio on the campus of the University of Ghana-Legon.  The theatre is an outdoor amphitheatre and a tree and fence stand outside the theatre where posters are hung for upcoming productions.  My office is nearby this sacred area, and I anticipate posting the A Raisin in the Sun poster there soon!


Friday, March 25, 2016 (posted)

,font size=1>photo © Wallace Bridges, 2016</font> <font size=2><i>Through a Film Darkly</i>, Written by J.C. De Graft, Directed by Agbetsiafa Christian Sunny</font>
photo © Wallace Bridges, 2016
Through a Film Darkly, Written by J.C. De Graft, Directed by Agbetsiafa Christian Sunny

I have been quite busy preparing for A Raisin in the Sun at the University of Ghana-Legon.  I also teach two classes: a graduate class, Theatre Making Concepts, and an upper division undergraduate class, Directing II.  It is the Directing II class that has taken a bit of my time in that I not only meet with and mentor the students weekly, but I also attend their technical rehearsals and a performance each.  Last week, Christian’s production, Through a Film Darkly was presented in the Efua T. Sutherland Drama Studio in the School of Performing Arts complex.  This week, Abraham’s production, Aluta Continua was presented.  These productions are required for the Directing II students who are participating in their part two directing course after learning the basics in Directing I during the fall semester.  Included in the slideshow are photos from their productions.  In the near future, the other two students, Ebow and Andinkrah will present their directing projects.

photo © Wallace Bridges, 2016 Aluta Continua, Written by Efo Kodjo Mawugbe, Directed by Abraham MC-Pratt-Dadzie

photo © Wallace Bridges, 2016
Aluta Continua, Written by Efo Kodjo Mawugbe, Directed by Abraham MC-Pratt-Dadzie


Friday, March 11, 2016 (posted)

Last week we held auditions and callbacks for my University of Ghana-Legon production of A Raisin in the Sun.  This production is part of my Fulbright project and opens at the Efua T. Sutherland Drama Studio on the University of Ghana campus in Legon.  The auditions resulted in a strong cast for our April 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23, 2016 production of A Raisin in the Sun.  This week we began blocking rehearsals.  We have also held three production meetings and are in good shape so far.  We will come back next week with our fourth production meeting, and will continue with blocking rehearsals.


Friday, February 26, 2016 (posted)

On Tuesday my wife and I and friends visited Jamestown and nearby Chorkor in Accra, Ghana.  Our friend was raised in the area and later led me and others on a walk through the village.  It was there that I took wonderful photos of these young boys who willingly posed.  I truly enjoyed watching their laughing faces and reactions when I let them see their photos in the view finder.  Our friend later told me they were saying in Ga that they looked like old ladies in the photos.  It was a pleasant experience strolling through Chorkor that day.

Since Jamestown and Chorkor are so close together, we also visited the Jamestown Lighthouse and beach.  As we drove slowly into the crowded beach area, a funeral procession preceded us.  This particular procession was not as dignified as the official precession in the photograph.  I am not certain if these festive young people who proceeded were actually approved.  Yet, they soon moved out of the way and our friend eventually parked on the beach several yards away from the bank.  My wife and her friend walked to a nearby “village school,” and her husband I made our way down to the bank and dock.  As we moved closer to the ocean we climbed over boats that were sitting beachside.  Since this was a Tuesday, there was no fishing, so all boats were either beached or anchored, and the fishermen/fisherwomen worked on their nets or otherwise relaxed.  We were also approached by young men who were able to converse with my friend, since he also spoke Ga.  I remained quiet and took photographs while my friend engaged the young men.  These young men appeared to have a friendly conversation with my friend and walked with us most of the time we were on the beach.  After awhile, we rejoined our women who were coming out of the school.  As we were  driving from the beach to the street, we passed an official and dignified funeral procession that included middle aged and senior members.  My friend pulled ahead of the procession and parked the car so I could take photos.  When they got closer, he asked them if I could photograph, and all but the woman walking with them agreed.  So, I indeed was honored to gain permission to take photographs of this somber ritual.

photo © Wallace Bridges, 2016 Funeral Procession | Jamestown Beach | Jamestown, Accra, Ghana
photo © Wallace Bridges, 2016
Funeral Procession | Jamestown Beach | Jamestown, Accra, Ghana

Thursday, February 25, 2016 (posted)

It has been a while since I posted, with the semester well under way at the University of Ghana-Legon.  And, mainly, as consulting director for the Purple Rain Foundation/U.S. Embassy Accra production of A Raisin in the Sun, we presented that show at the National Theatre of Ghana on Friday, February 19.  It is my humble opinion that the production was generally successful from the standpoint of the actors and crew.  As with some shows in my experience, there were aspects of  this one that could have been more successful, but in general terms it was indeed a success.  I observed and worked with one of the hardest working cast and crew who learned so much through the rehearsal process and executed what they learned very effectively during performance.

From the audience standpoint, publicity had been very strong pulling in a nearly full orchestra section of this 1500 seat house.  Feedback I received from audience members support my assessment of the production.  Those audience members also expressed some concern for production elements that could have stood improvement.  Also, those attentive audience members expressed frustration at times with some of their fellow audience members who have something to learn about appropriate theatre etiquette.  Indeed, the director’s preshow announcement should have been more comprehensive, yet the attentive audience members were distracted by general talking, talking on cellphones, texting, glass bottles tipping over and rolling, and cellophane crinkling, for example.

For the enjoyment of all who paid the ticket price to see any production, all audience members should keep the following in mind when attending a live theatrical production.

  • Arrive on time.
  • Refrain from taking photographs, audio, video or recordings of any kind.
  • Turn off your cell phone and electronic devices.
  • Refrain from talking during the show or singing along at musicals.
  • Refrain from sending text messages or listening to earbuds during the show.
  • Refrain from leaving your seat during the performance–unless there is an emergency.
  • Eat dinner before the show, not during it.  If food or drink are allowed in the theatre, open plastic wrapping before entering the auditorium, or eat it in the lobby.
  • Avoid glass or aluminum beverage containers inside the auditorium.
  • Try not to fall asleep.
  • Respect the space and comfort of others around you.
  • Take trash with you, and leave the theatre in the condition you found it.
photo: KOP, 2016
photo: KOP, 2016

How many cell phones do you see lit–during this performance?


Friday, February 12, 2016 (posted)

Saturday was a busy day for me, since I not only attended the African American Association of Ghana’s Black History Month Launch during the day, but during the evening I attended An Intimate Evening with 4 Divas performance at the +233 Jazz Bar & Grill in Accra, Ghana.  The four singers presented a special tribute to the late Natalie Cole and starred Brenda Joyce, Faith Bekoe, Ofie Kodjoe and Sandra Huson.  These classy women were supported by the Victor Dey JNR Quartet.  It is helpful to note here that Brenda Joyce is the president of the African American Association of Ghana, and Ofie Kodjoe is playing Lena Younger (Mama) in the Purple Rain Foundation/U.S. Embassy Accra production of A Raisin in the Sun set to open at the National Theatre on Friday, February 19.


Thursday, February 11, 2016 (posted)

On Saturday I attended the African American Association of Ghana’s Black History Month Launch at the W.E.B. DuBois Centre in Accra, Ghana.  The event featured two panel discussions that included audience questions after each panel presentation.  The first panel included panelists Albie Walls, Pan Africanist Educator and Dr. Samuel Ntewusu, Research Fellow, Institute of African Studies, and was moderated by Janet Butler, Vice President of Africa Region at United Way Worldwide in Ghana.  The second panel featured panelists Mjiba Frehiwot, Research Fellow, Institute of African Studies and Professor Steven Taylor, Fulbright Scholar, and was moderated by Albie Walls.  The event also included entertainment by traditional drummers and dancer, and opened with a pouring of libations for ancestors by Nii Maama Marquaye, a prayer by Afi Tamakloe and songs by Veronica Bain.  The event concluded with an African American quiz with prizes, and a soul food lunch at the Roots Restaurant on the DuBois Centre site.


Tuesday, February 9, 2016 (posted)

Last night we rehearsed again for the Purple Rain Foundation/U.S. Embassy Accra production of A Raisin in the Sun to be presented at the National Theatre of Ghana on Friday, February 19, 2016.  That rehearsal leaves us with 11 days to the performance.  At that rehearsal I did something I can’t recall doing very often in my many years of directing experience–in the U.S.  I gave the entire cast a blanket congratulations on their work and progress with the production.  I rarely do this because usually, there has been one or two people in those casts who were not living up to our agreed upon expectations.  My directing style is to individually compliment the actors during the process as often as they earn that praise.  Those who know me value those compliments I give in part because actors say they are rare, but more importantly because they have earned the praise.  In the case of this production for the National Theatre of Ghana, the cast as a whole has recently made significant progress in the rehearsal process.  They have stepped up to meet my challenges of effective time management, timely communication, and punctually completing tasks.  In other words, they have met general standards of excellence that should be apparent in the performance of the show on February 19.  And, this behavior has allowed me to congratulate them as a whole–and to challenge them to keep progressing to achieve the high quality production standards of which I know they are collectively capable.

Where this post is regarding the cast primarily, the same standards of excellence have been demonstrated by the capable crew and support team as well.  Thank-you cast and crew of the Purple Rain Foundation/U.S. Embassy Accra production of A Raisin in the Sun for a positive experience in Ghana of which I am sure I will remember fondly when I return to the U.S.


Thursday, February 4, 2016 (posted)

Yesterday members of the Purple Rain Foundation/U.S. Embassy Accra production of A Raisin in the Sun participated in a live radio interview with Anita Erskine at Starr 103.5 FM.  Participating as interviewees were Naa Ahima Nunoo, me and Esi Yamoah.  Assisting with the photography and videography was the set designer, Selorm Dotse Kudiabor.  The interview was handled with professionalism and our production to be presented at the National Theatre of Ghana on February 19 received good exposure to the listening audience.  Located in Accra, and according to their web site, Starr 103.5 FM “is an urban, lifestyle radio station, which focuses on the delivery of compelling programmes through good music, entertainment/lifestyle- led talk programmes and sports for its target audience.”


Tuesday, February 2, 2016 (posted)

Yesterday was the first day of school for the Second Semester as it is called.  It seems the beginning of the semester works differently here in Ghana, and particularly at the University of Ghana Department of Theatre.  Apparently, the first week of class is a transitional period in which students are still registering and schedules are being completed.  Since I had not received a class schedule nor class roster before then, I went to campus that morning to learn my schedule–and that I had already missed my first class, which met at 9:30 that morning.  If I had known in advance, I would have been there for certain.  What was particularly interesting was that no one was concerned at all, since apparently it is not uncommon for faculty or students to miss the first day of class.  So, I have learned something new about customs and practices in Ghana.


Thanks to one of my Fulbright colleagues and her Ghanaian husband, I attended a Batakari Night concert at the Alliance Francaise Accra amphitheater on Saturday night.  This was a very diverse concert featuring a number of styles and formats of musical performance, coupled with modeling of Batakari clothing produced genuinely in Ghana.  The headliner for the concert was none other than King Ayisoba, the leading performer of Kologo music.


Monday, February 1, 2016 (posted)

Off-book rehearsals were a bit rough, since some actors were struggling with memorization.  Directors were challenged to direct, since the actors were struggling.  Then, suddenly, today, we were able to achieve a meaningful rehearsal where actors were beginning to listen and react to each other.  So, there is indeed hope–as long as the subsequent rehearsals continue to improve.


Tuesday, January 26, 2016 (posted)

embassyraisin2photo © U.S. Embassy Accra, 2016

Ofi Kodjoe (Mama/Lena), Esi Yamoah (Ruth), Derrick Narh-Sormenah (Walter), Sarah Shabbir (U.S. Embassy Accra), Naa Ahima Nunoo (producer), Phanuel Parbey (director), Wallace Bridges (consulting director) in a publicity photograph for the Purple Rain Foundation/National Theatre of Ghana production of A Raisin in the Sun set to open Friday, February 19, 2016

I have been in rehearsals for two weeks with this production of A Raisin in the Sun.  The producer and director had originally set Sunday, January 24 as the off-book day.  In my experience that is nearly a week early, and our last two rehearsals “off-book” indicated this.  We are hopeful, things will tighten up within the week, so we can move on to more advanced rehearsals.  The U.S. Embassy Accra is partnering with this production and has graciously allowed us to take our publicity photograph there.

TRAFFIC AND HARMATTAN

video © Wallace Bridges, 2016

This video illustrates traffic during rush hour in Accra near the University of Ghana-Legon campus.  Notably are the various tro tros (mini-buses), taxis and motorcycles.  They are generally blowing their horns to alert others that they are coming, going or about to move into someone else’s lanes.  I rode a tro tro last night alone and am getting the hang of it.  They pick up near where the Purple Rain Foundation/National Theatre of Ghana rehearsals of A Raisin in the Sun take place, and they drop off in this location near the campus gate.  The motorcycles, like in Los Angeles, tend to move in and out of traffic as well as between lanes of traffic.  I tend to take a taxi to rehearsals and have to bargain with the drivers for the fare.  I am getting fairly effective at that as well.

The Harmattan is the dry dust that blows in especially during January, so there is a brown haze in the sky.  Today, since I was out and about, the combination of Harmattan and uncontrolled exhaust fumes has really aggravated my allergies.  In spite of this, my visit to Ghana is quite the adventure, and I am enjoying it immensely.  Even though, last night I was crowded on the tro tro, I couldn’t stop smiling the entire trip because the experience was so unique!

STREET MERCHANTS

streethawk2 traffichawk1

photos © Wallace Bridges, 2016

Speaking of traffic…  Whenever traffic stops at a light or intersection, there are always many street merchants selling various products from toilet paper to candy to cleaning supplies to fried plantains.  But, they have to hurry with their transactions, since traffic could start moving again at anytime.


Friday, January 22, 2016 (posted)

wallaceageyman
photo © Gretchen Bauer, 2016
Wallace and Dr. Ageyman Ossei, head of the Department of Theatre at the University of Ghana–Legon

So, I have been busy in the planning stages for teaching theatre courses at the University of Ghana, and for directing A Raisin in the Sun there. At the end of the day yesterday, I ran into Dr. Ossei, who I had visited earlier in the day to plan for teaching beginning February 2, and for directing A Raisin in the Sun beginning March 1.

wallacetheatreofficephoto © Phanuel Parbey, 2016
Wallace standing outside Dr. Oseei’s office earlier today

This photo was taken by Phanuel, my co-director for the Purple Rain Foundation/National Theatre of Ghana production of A Raisin in the Sun.  I was working out details about auditions, rights and royalties and the rehearsal schedule for the University of Ghana production of A Raisin in the Sun.  Did I say that I am directing two (2) productions of A Raisin in the Sun in Ghana?  Well, I am, and Phanuel has recently earned his graduate theatre degree from the University of Ghana, and just happened to be passing through campus.

termitemound

photo © Wallace Bridges, 2016

What is that, you say?

termitemoundscalephoto © Wallace Bridges, 2016

It is one of the termite mounds I pass to and from the School of Performing Arts on the University of Ghana campus.  And check the scale, about 10 feet!


Tuesday, January 19, 2016 (posted)

_MG_5870bphoto © Kwasi Owusu Poku, 2016
Wallace Bridges directing Valerie Asare (Beneatha) and Brian Angels (Asagai) in the Purple Rain Foundation/National Theatre of Ghana production of A Raisin in the Sun


Monday, January 18, 2016 (posted)

ruthbeneatha1photo © Wallace Bridges, 2016
Esi Yamoah (Ruth) and Valerie Asare (Beneatha) in an outdoor rehearsal of the Purple Rain Foundation/National Theatre of Ghana production of A Raisin in the Sun

I am fully involved in rehearsing the Purple Rain Foundation production of A Raisin in the Sun to be presented at the National Theatre of Ghana on February 19.  My title is now consulting director, as I am guiding and encouraging an up and coming director.  We rehearse at the home of a generous arts supporter on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings.  This week I take the lead on the directing process and two weeks in, we are in what I call working rehearsals, and the actors will soon be off-book.

Getting to and from rehearsals is always interesting.  I generally take a taxi from my apartment at the Fulbright House on the University of Ghana campus.  One must bargain with the drivers for the trip.  I typically pay 25 cedi ($6.56) per trip.  I usually get a ride back with company members, since several of them are UG students.  However, last night was different.  I always said I will never take a tro tro, basically a crowded 16 passenger mini-bus.  They are all over Accra.  Though they only cost about 1.50 cedi, during the heat of the day, I tend to see miserably hot and crowded passengers, so I’ll take a taxi.  But, last night, none of the students drove, so a few of them took the tro tro as they usually do.  So, I rode along with them.  The ride was virtually uneventful, except for me banging my knee on a seat being so crowded.  We walked all the way to the back, which was good, since it was evening and the windows were open to provide a cool breeze.  This form of public transportation is interesting in that there is a driver and a “conductor.”  As the vehicle slows down to a planned pick-up area, the conductor calls out the destination (Medina, Legon, etc), so people know where they are headed.  Last night I got off at Legon just outside the UG campus and walked 15 minutes to my apartment.  I later learned I could have paid a taxi 2-5 cedi to take me home from that stop.

When I headed out this evening to catch a taxi to rehearsal, there was one waiting right outside my apartment–eating a mango.  He tried to charge me 40 cedi, but I walked on till I got a reasonable 25 cedi ride.  Tomorrow, I plan to visit the Theatre Department on campus to get details on my classes and the rehearsal process for the UG production of A Raisin in the Sun.
Note, the UG production is part of my Fulbright proposal, the Purple Rain Foundation/National Theatre of Ghana production is something extra that pleasantly surprised me when I arrived.

mamatravis1photo © Wallace Bridges, 2016
Ofie Kodjoe (Mama) and Joseph Ofuatey-Kodjoe (Travis) in an outdoor rehearsal of the Purple Rain Foundation/National Theatre of Ghana production of A Raisin in the Sun


Thursday, January 14, 2016 (posted)

I am honored and humbled to receive a Fulbright Scholar award to teach and direct at the University of Ghana in Accra, Ghana, Africa.  I am scheduled to teach two classes and to direct A Raisin in the Sun at the University of Ghana.

I have been in Ghana one week now, since Thursday, January 7.  A lot has happened since then.  I will try to post the highlights as time goes along.

Some highlights include attending my first theatre faculty meeting, interacting with my fellow Fulbright colleagues and rehearsing A Raisin in the Sun with a separate group who will present at the National Theatre of Ghana on February 19.

  • At the faculty meeting I learned I will be teaching THEA 462 – Directing II and THEA 604 – Theatre Making Concepts.  These are both small classes of less than 10 students each.  The directing class is actually more of a studio course in which the students work on their directing projects as the final half of their directing curriculum.  The graduate course, Theatre Making Concepts is likely more a producing theatre course, but I have more to learn about that before school starts on February 2.  I will finalize the schedule for my UG production of A Raisin in the Sun, which should open in May.
  • The other A Raisin in the Sun production is a bit of a surprise in that when I arrived I learned of it, and that they heard I was coming and were looking for me.  That production is directed by a graduate directing student who could no doubt benefit from my experience.  They rehearse three or four nights a week for two hours each night.  I have attended two rehearsals so far, and we are in the blocking stage.  Since they are already under way, some of my advice is moot, since some of those recommendations should have implemented before auditions.  This production also includes UG students who I will likely encounter when school begins.
  • My Fulbright colleagues are simply AWESOME.  We all live in the Fulbright House on campus, which is a four-plex.  Since day one they have been extremely helpful with advice, transportation, food and just positive energy.  For example, one of them has a car and drives in this crazy Ghanaian traffic, which is every car for itself.  After dropping her son off to school, she drove us to the U.S. Embassy for our briefing.  She also drove us to the Accra Mall a couple of times.  My other colleague is married to a Ghanaian who has cooked for me twice and helped me to clean my apartment upon arrival.

walter1photo © Wallace Bridges, 2016
Derrick Narh-Sormenah (Walter) in an outdoor rehearsal of the Purple Rain Foundation/National Theatre of Ghana production of A Raisin in the Sun