My first experience with Ebo Whyte’s production was two years ago. Since then, I resolved to always be at his stage plays; a decision I have never regretted. From ‘Dear God Comma’, to ‘Women on Fire’, to ‘Dora, Why’ to ‘The Woman in the Bathroom’: I have watched them all.
One thing that has remained consistent through all these plays, to me, is the deliberate effort to get the audience engaged and relaxed.
With more than ten years experience, Roverman Productions, headed by Ebo Whyte seems to be the definition of stage play here in Ghana.
Every year, four plays are introduced by the team, with one acted quarterly before a total climax during the Christmas festivity themed ‘Festival of Plays’.
So when the final play for the last quarter of the year came out, there was no doubt I was going to be there to find out why God was fired.
It is, however, worth noting that for Ghanaians who are known to be late for events and functions, everyone was seated almost five minutes before the play begun, this is because of the punctuality of all his productions. If you are ten minutes late to an Ebo Whyte production, just bear in mind that you have missed ten minutes of pure action.
It is for this reason that by 7:30 pm (a good 30 minutes before the production began) I was already at the National Theatre, the official venue for the plays.
By 7:50 pm everybody was seated. The ground floor was packed and I could see people settling in nicely at the top floor. Well-dressed ushers were at every gate and row to help with the sitting arrangement. The feeling of being welcomed and directed to a seat (almost as if it was reserved specifically for you) never gets old for me.
By 8:00 pm, the auditorium lights were dimmed and the stage flooded with brightness to welcome us to a church setting.
A pastor is seen getting ready to meet his congregants who are supposed to go for evangelism. Two of the members are also going through their last-minute rehearsals for their wedding slated for the next day.
After concluding with them, a second couple enters to have a discussion with the pastor; simply put, the impotency of the man was a huge bother. It was either God restores his dignity as a man, or his wife divorces him. As usual, pastor promises to take the matter up in prayer and intercede on their behalf. He is however rudely interrupted by his wife who is demanding for money.
Shouting on top of her voice and pulling at his clothes, the attention of his church members are drawn to the commotion. Together, they contribute money for the pastor to give to his loud-mouth wife.
When the members finally dispersed for the evangelism, the pastor decided to have a one on one talk with God. He accused him (God) of being incompetent, lazy and having no compassion or love for his children on earth. He then goes ahead to list all his problems and that of his church members, wondering why after years of fasting and praying, some situations remained the same.
Finally, unable to take it and heartbroken, pastor fires God and hands over his church to him. According to the pastor, he is not interested in working for someone who has not been delivering on his end of a deal.
Suddenly the attention of the audience is taking to a man, who seems to have been on stage from the beginning. The well-built man, after performing a series of miracles, confirms that he is indeed an angel sent by God with a message for him.
For firing God and calling him incompetent, he (pastor) is now being tasked to be God for just an hour.
Scene after scene, patrons are taken through decisions made by pastor to please his congregants and prove how awesome he is as God.
But when the hastily answered prayers of his members led to the death of one, an accident of another and the arrest of a third, pastor is left remorseful; thinking about his actions and the wisdom with which God rules.
Throughout the play, it was easy to notice how the audience laughed and clapped when a scene goes right or they can relate to a particular action or word by any of the actors.
While I must say I enjoyed myself to the maximum, I did leave the auditorium with a few lessons here and there.
Back in the auditorium I remember constantly rolling my eyes when someone stayed on the stage for a very long time just to sing a song.
Singing on stage is a normal part of any Roverman Production, and probably not something Ghanaians are used to since its exclusive to only Uncle Ebo (as he is affectionately called).
While some of these songs are originally produced by the team, a few tend to be either a re-mix of a song or a popular song known by all.
So yes, we did sit in our chairs wondering if we were at a musical and wishing to fast forward the singing so the drama could continue.
Again, the use of some local dialect on stage (Ga and Twi) got foreigners in the audience looking lost and confused. Looking around, I could see a few Ghanaians trying to explain what was said to them, while everyone was almost done laughing. The same applied to Ghanaians who could not speak Ga, and therefore missed a comic line inserted into the show.
All in all, an Ebo Whyte Production is something I will always recommend to friends and family. With tickets selling at a cool rate of 80gh or 60gh (for early birds), the average Ghanaian can always buy one and get a spare for a date. While I enjoy watching it alone because I don’t want to be distracted, I have seen couples fall deeper in love and teasing themselves after that 2 to 3 hours spent in the auditorium with Ebo Whyte.
Well, it seems Ebo Whyte’s stage productions have come to stay. Every production witnesses new viewers who have never been to any production show and that is encouraging. Every production also has both the top and ground floor of the auditorium filled with people. My personal favourite is the fact that every new production serves as an introduction to new talents discovered by Ebo Whyte and the production team.
Indeed, God got fired this December but he also got His job back, and while Ebo Whyte has never toned down on his Christian beliefs and love for God, I think this storyline should not only be dedicated to ‘faithless-selfish’ Christians but also to the Almighty.