Written by Efemena Agadama who has come to London from Nigeria to study. He often contributes articles on human rights issues to his Amnesty International blog and is interested in writing for theatre production.
People were coming from the Christmas service in Ipswich, bright weather, calm wind, no snow and no ice. They were full of smiles, a culture in London that makes it distinctive. I got to a traffic light stand in midst of some other people, waited until the green light sign showed, and crossed over to the front of the Regent Theatre. I walked in and approached some of the staff. Fortunately, one of the guys, very friendly and full of the bubble of life, welcomed me with the true love of his spirit and treated me as a brother. I quickly embraced the friendship and pleaded to have a glimpse of the theatre, which he accepted.
As we walked towards the entrance, my mind flashed back to the theatres of the University of Benin and the University of Ibadan in Nigeria. There were unanswered questions in my heart. Will they have the same facilities? What about the sitting capacity?
And when we got into the Regent Theatre I saw the beauty of a theatre stage for the first time in my life: very colourful. Or was it the handiwork of Michelangelo the great Italian artist and painter? Michelangelo whose works are unique, historical and evergreen that our future generations have honoured him before their birth? While I still gazed at the stage of the Regent Theatre, my mind would transit into the beauty of the “Pieta” work by this famous Michelangelo. The Regent Theatre seems like a vanished love garden dreamt of by lovers, a rolling sea wave infested by large blue dolphins playing to the rhythm of their hearts, the joy of an immigrant seeing snow for the first time. It was like I should just mount the stage with the best of African drumming, costumes and poetry.
But there seems to be a difference here between the stage and that of the University of Ibadan – hence we have the “African Theatre” and the “English Theatre.” The University of Ibadan theatre and the Regent Theatre are two great and aged theatres that stand on their own. That of UI was built based on the traditional culture of the yorubas in particular and Africa in general. But the Regent Theatre is tailored after the culture and tradition of the English people; therefore, they have different stage sets, designs, props and effects. Nevertheless, a good theatre director can still achieve an optimal performance in either of the two cultures and in either of the two theatres.
African plays have been staged in English theatres and English plays have been staged in the University of Ibadan, including those of Shakespeare and Bernard Shaw. Despite my great love for African poetic theatre flowered with drumming and heroic deeds, the Regent Theatre was able to capture and maintain my attention and respect. I visited it on New Year’s day to have another glimpse and watch a theatre performance to increase my understanding of the art and styles of the English theatre as seen from the eyes and blue-soul of the Regent Theatre.
I madly desire to see its blue stage again; a blue stage whose artistic honour must have been the insight of a crazy artist whose dreams were always of the mysterious world. The artist’s mysterious world where dreams are not dreams but spiritual lecture theatres where great works are spied and brought to this human world. I madly desire to see its sitting arena and imagine the aura of a smoky performance. I madly desire to stand at its entrance and imagine a blast performance with lightings and smoky effects evaporating all around the stage. Life is a joyful theatre and a joyful theatre the joy of life of an artist seen in the artistic realm of a theatrical life.
The Regent Theatre is located at 3 St Helens Street, Ipswich, Suffolk IP1 1DH
See a list of upcoming events here.