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 School of Performing Arts  Drama Studio
E. S. T. Drama Studio
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The University of Ghana, Legon has two facilities where performances take place: THE DRAMA STUDIO and AMPHI-THEATRE. The studio at the School of Performing Arts was named after Dr. Efua Theodora Sutherland (1924-1996), she was also referred to as the “mother of Ghanaian theatre movement”. She was one of the pioneers of theatre activities in Ghana. In the early fifties her relentless efforts led to the formation of a drama group in 1957.
The group used to rehearse under a small roofed shed near the Baiden Powell Memorial Hall in Accra. They mostly dealt with stories about ANANSE (the spider), a familiar legendary character in Ghanaian folktales. The popular reception which the plays enjoyed later necessitated the expansion of the performance ground to what became the Ghana Drama Studio. Research has proved that it was always her hearts desire to have a studio with a shape like a huge traditional stool with a sitting capacity of about 500 people. She was able to achieve this with the help of a Danish building firm, Greelack and Gilles. The Drama Studio was later opened by the President of Ghana,

Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, in October 1961. The inaugural play performed in the Ghana Drama Studio was located where the present National Theatre is situated. The play was called Odasani (EVERYMAN).
Subsequently, the Ghana Drama Studio became a regular rendezvous, staging new productions that reflected the African condition. Her introduction on stage was the unique dramatic form of ANANSEGORO deriving its creative model from traditional story telling drama, ANANSEGORO can be said to be her specific contribution to dramatic literature. In October 1962, President Kwame Nkrumah opened the Institute of African Studies (IAS) at the University of Ghana; Legon charging it to do the very things Dr. E.T. Sutherland was championing mainly the history, culture, institutions, language and arts of Ghana and Africa. To achieve these goals, a School of Music and Drama was set up within the Institute of African Studies.
In May 1963, Dr. E.T. Sutherland was invited to join the staff and became a Research Associate of the Institute of African Studies. Her appointment to the Institute brought transfer of ownership of Ghana Drama Studio to the University of Ghana, so that it could be used as an extension of the School of Music and Drama, now known as School of Performing Arts.

However in 1989, the Government of Ghana through the National Commission on Culture decided to pull down the Ghana Drama Studio to pave way for a new multipurpose National Theatre. This was done under the Chairmanship of Dr. Mohammed Ben Abdallah in 1990. A consensus was reached that a replica of the Ghana Drama Studio be built at the present site of the School of Performing Arts premises, presently known as Efua Theodora Sutherland Drama Studio.
The Studio as a unit is designed for Research, Workshops and Performances by the three main disciplines: Music, Dance and Theatre Arts Departments and other commercial out fits within the University and beyond. The Architecture was modeled to incorporate Western and African Arts. It is a multifunctional studio, where one can have a Proscenium Stage. The Arena or the Theatre in the Round, which is more recognized and used in the African story telling context where the audience is part of the performance. The exterior design has a stool at the front of the Studio symbolizing welcome which means (Akwaaba) in Akan, a local dialect. Another feature which makes the Studio one of a kind in Ghana is its open air auditorium.

In terms of capacity, the Studio takes a maximum of four hundred people.

It is suitable for music, drama and dance performances, workshops and rehearsals.

Sound and lighting booth are equipped with a mixer and dimmer board for sound and stage lighting respectively. A scenic design room, male and female changing and rest rooms, two costume rooms, snack bar and a box office.

To use the Studio facilities for performances of any kind comes with varying degrees of payment which is as follows:
1. The basic rate for the following facilities: (theatrical space, sound and lighting booth, male and female changing rooms, box office and studio seats) is currently GH¢300.00. Per day. However it is subject to change.

2. The following facilities are also available: (stage light flats for design set, costumes and sound design) negotiable according to one’s production needs.
1. All bookings are at the discretion of the School of Performing Arts.

2. The School will make all reasonable efforts to adhere to booking arrangements, but reserves the right to cancel bookings at any time. In such circumstances charges will be refunded in full.

3. Bookings for political functions IS NOT PERMITTED.

4. Provisional bookings of the Studio must be confirmed by payment 14 days before the function, as the School reserves the right to consider the booking cancelled without prior notification. Cancellation of bookings will be accepted up to 7 days before the date of the function, after which a cancellation fee of fifty Ghana cedis GH¢50.00 will be charged.

5. The School does not accept responsibility for any injury that may occur to performers, crew, and audience or in connection with any loss or damage to property or equipment brought in for use at the Studio. No equipment may be left in the Studio before or after the function, unless by a prior arrangement with Studio management.

6. Users will be held liable for any loss or damage to Studio premises or facilities, as a result of their actions or those of their agents.

The structure is comprised of the Director of the School, the Studio Manager, the Assistant Registrar, The Accountant, The Studio Production and Administrative Assistants.

All application letters are addressed to the Director for his/ her perusal, approved or disapproved depending on the current studio booking schedule by the Studio Manager. The Assistant Registrar then processes the applications and communicates approval to clients by way of writing or telephone.
Theatre without public patronization is not an option. Come and be a partner for development through the Arts by being regular at studio productions.
For enquiries and/or clarification please contact the Drama Studio administration.


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