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Theatre production and Artistic Directing : Lessons from Bubbles Theatre Troupe

154 pages
"Tested on Bubbles Theatre Troupe in theatre practice and theory, this book vividly portrays Anne Tanyi-Tang's invaluable insight into the responsabilities of a theatre producer and artistic director. It will serve as a reference book on theatre production processes". Patrick Tata
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Theatre Production and Artistic Directing: Anne Tanyi-Tang
Lessons from Bubbles Theatre Troupe
You feel like becoming an expert in theatre production and
directing after reading this book, for you grasp a lot in it through Theatre Production
examples given to support ideas. Don’t miss having a copy.
Jacques Raymond FOFIE and Artistic Directing:Associate Professor of Performing Arts and Cinematography
Tested on Bubbles Teatre Troupe in theatre practice and theory, this Lessons from Bubbles book vividly portrays Anne Tanyi-Tang’s invaluable insight into
the responsibilities of a theatre producer and artistic director.
It will serve as a reference book on theatre production processes. Theatre Troupe
Patrick TATA
Patamae Resarch & Editing Consultancy

Anne Tanyi-Tang was born at Akiriba village in
Manyu Division, Cameroon. In 1982, she attended
the University of Yaoundé and obtained a Bachelor
of Arts (BA) in English in 1985. She enrolled in
the Department of Drama and Teatre Studies,
Faculty of Humanities, University of Kent at Canterbury, England,
in 1987. In November 1989, she was admitted to the degree of
Master of Arts (MA). Ten, she enrolled in the Department of Social
Anthropology, Faculty of Arts, University of St. Andrews, Scotland ,
where she obtained the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)
in Drama, Teatre and Social Anthropology in July 1994.
In 2004, she was awarded a Fulbright African Senior Research
Scholar Grant to carry out research in the United States of
America. Presently, she is an Associate Professor and Vice-Dean of
Programmes and Academic Affairs in the Faculty of Arts, University of
Buea. Apart from teaching and research, she equally writes plays.
Cover photography: Djeukeu Jules Samuel,
Yaoundé, September 2014.
ISBN : 978-2-343-04315-9
15,50 €
Theatre Production and Artistic Directing:
Anne Tanyi-Tang
Lessons from Bubbles Theatre Troupe

Theatre Production
and Artistic Directing:
Lessons from Bubbles Theatre Troupe

Anne Tanyi-Tang

Theate Production and
Artistic Directing:
Lessons from Bubbles Theatre Troupe

Preface from Maxime Meto’o

Also by Anne Tanyi-Tang

Ewa and Other Plays, Yaoundé, Editions Cle, 2000
Eneta vs Elimo, Yaoundé, Editions Cle, 2001
Two Plays: Down the hill, Chief Ayito, Yaoundé, Editions Sherpa, 2004
Two Plays: Visiting America, Marinuelle, Yaoundé, Editions Sherpa,
Three Plays: The Heiress, The Song of Ayanta and Obsession, Yaoundé,
Africana Publications, 2010
Down the Hill, Yaoundé, Eagle Publishing, 2013
Three Plays (Ngore, When We Get There, Roommates), Yaoundé, Eagle
Publishing, 2014
Chief Ayito & Other Plays (King Essapa, Chief Ayito, Tu As Vu?),
Yaoundé, Eagle Publishing, 2014

© L’Harmattan, 2014
5-7, rue de l’Ecole-Polytechnique, 75005 Paris


ISBN : 978-2-343-04315-9
EAN : 9782343043159
To Almighty God for His gifts to mePreface
Written in a succinct and lucid style, Anne
TanyiTang’s Theatre Production and Artistic Directing:
Lessons from Bubbles Theatre Troupe, takes the
reader to the professional world of theatre production
and directing and leaves him or her pondering over
the prospects of Cameroon theatre. Tested on Bubbles
Theatre Troupe coupled with professionals’ responses
to questionnaire to prime players in the profession, the
book focuses on the processes and challenges of
producing theatre and directing plays in Cameroon. It
is a critique of Cameroon theatre and reflects on the
near-total disregard of theatre in Cameroon and why
theatre that blossomed and thrived in the late 70s and
80s suffered grievously and came so close to despair
in the late 90s and thereafter. Cameroon theatre is
spoken of only in pessimistic terms.
Notwithstanding the ups and downs surrounding
theatre, the stoical professionals have not given up.
For as they put it, today’s prospects are bleak but the
future will be bright.
The book has filled the lacuna in the history of
theatre production and directing in Cameroon. It is an
excellent reference book for theatre professionals
given its tested views and authenticity.
Prof. Maxime Meto’o
Professor of French Literature.
I am immensely indebted to Madam Andree
Johnson – former Director of Cultural Affairs,
American Embassy, Yaoundé, who brought me to the
limelight from 1999- 2000, and 2004 and to members
of Bubbles Theatre Troupe. Working with this troupe
has been exciting, enriching, challenging and a
learning process. Gratitude also goes to the staff of
Cameroon Radio and Television (CRTV) who
publicized my theatrical performances as well as the
embassies, ministries and organizations which
sponsored some of the productions of Bubbles
Theatre Troupe.
In no way can I forget Professor Louis James (the
supervisor of my MA thesis) and Professor Roy
Dilley (the supervisor of my Ph. D thesis) who upheld
and assured me of what I could do. Chief Professor
Samson Negbo Abangma, Professor Bole Butake,
Professor Atangana-Bolo, Marthe-Isabelle, Professor
George Echu, Professor Mateteyou Emmanuel,
Professor Jacques Raymond Fofie as a team came up
with variant critiques to enhance the quality of this
book. They are the light and ambience of the work.
To the Cameroon Government, whose consistent
financial support throughout my education has
contributed immensely in making me what I am
today, I submit my grateful service. And to Dr. Tar
Moses who has always been so supportive, I say
thank you, son.
9Above all, I awe so much to the great many
renowned English-speaking theatre practitioners who
responded to my questionnaire. Their responses are
invaluable to the quality of this book. My hope is that
all these and those immediate or remote help I have
not mentioned will appreciate these findings.
10Chapter one
Theatre production
The Bubbles Theatre Troupe offers a platform of
theatre production through which to observe and
define a theatre producer. It offers a valid analytical
premise from which, informed by theoretical
perspectives of reader response, psychoanalysis and
Marxism, theatre can be defined and various stages of
productions analyzed.
1. a (i). The Definition of Theatre
Langley Stephen holds that theatre is
fundamentally a simple process with only four
elements necessary for performance to occur. In
Theatre Management and Production in America
(1990. 28 -29), he lists the four points:
1. Creative raw material (an idea, a scenario, a
2. A person to interpret the material (an actor, a
dancer, a singer …)
3. A place to present the material (a theatre, a
Church, a barn, a street, a clearing in the
4. An audience to witness the performance.
Langley’s definition includes the drama script,
dance or the song which are themselves messages.
These messages are transmitted to an audience by
11actors/actresses or performers in a given place. The
definition lacks one vital point of theatre, which is
‘time’. George Atabong in his unpublished
“Panorama of Greek Drama” states that theatre
includes actors transmitting messages to spectators at
a given place. Like Langley, Atabong omits the
important component of theatre – time.
On his part, Siga Assanga in African Theatre
Review (1985. 5) states that “theatre is essentially an
art of witnessing people in action, and for such action
to be meaningful it must take place in a specific place
and time”. Asanga’s definition highlights the vital
element of time. Yet it limps. For the audience does
not witness people in action; the audience watches
actors/actresses or performers acting on stage.
A working definition of theatre in the context of
this study, therefore, refers to actors/actresses acting
on stage and transmitting messages in a drama script
to an audience at a given time and in a specific place.
The messages should be accompanied by technical
effects, such as lighting effects, sound effects, and
1. a. (ii) The Definition of Theatre Producer
Each English-speaking theatre practitioner in
Cameroon who responded to my questionnaire has
his/her own definition for a theatre producer.
Thus, Tafaw Ateh producer and artistic director of the
IDIOT Theatre maintains that a producer is “The
person who organizes a production”. This curt
definition leaves out other roles of a producer beyond
12organizing a production. Visi Sumbom Tubuo, who
has produced, directed and acted sketches for
Cameroon Radio and Television (CRTV) asserts that
a producer “is someone who is engaged in bringing
together artists and backstage technicians in a theatre
production”. Again, this leaves out much and limits
the theater producer to merely bringing the artists and
backstage managers together. It is the same rather
glossy skim over the definition we witness in Toh
Raphael, a lecturer in the Performing Arts Section of
the University of Buea, for whom “A theatre producer
is any person involved in producing plays by
financing and coordinating all the activities of
production”. By the sweeping term ‘all’, he avoids the
insider inclusion of particulars in the activities of a
theatre producer.
Zigoto Tchaya Tchameni, renowned theatre
producer and filmmaker in Cameroon, maintains that
“a theatre producer is someone who puts in money for
the production of a stage play from conception to
performance”. This definition implicitly limits the
producer’s function to financing the production of
drama scripts whereas a theatre producer is also the
overseer of a theatrical production.
Apparently, the above theatre producers leave out
details and are concerned with the production of a
drama script, and not with the production of music,
dance, mime, choreography et cetera. (See appendix
ix). Langley Stephen (1990. 27) enumerates many of
the functions of a theatre producer:
13a producer … initiates a process that is intended to result
in public theatre performance … and bears the final
responsibility for the activities he/she initiates. [He
continues] He/she is also involved in such fundamental
functions such as planning, organizing, staffing,
supervising and controlling.
In the more comprehensive perspective adopted in
the context of this book, a theatre producer is the
person who initiates the idea of producing theatre, be
it a song, dance or a drama script. In the case of a
drama script, the producer selects the drama text,
draws up a budget, supplies funds or applies for
financial assistance to cover the cost of production,
and ensures that the artistic director, actors/actresses,
backstage directors and theatre administrators
maximize their respective potentials for the purpose
of satisfying the audience. The producer is also the
overall owner of a theatre project, being the only one
responsible for remunerations to the entire cast as
well as purchasing and hiring of all requirements for
the theatre production until the last run.
The theatre producer, of course, operates in a
context. In this study that context primarily spins out
from the troupe through which various stages bring a
drama text to the stage; the example of Bubbles
Theatre Troupe bears analysis.
1. b. Description and Analysis of the Different
Stages of Theatre Production
The different stages of producing a play include:
initiating the idea of producing a play, theatre
production as a collective activity, choosing a drama