1.1 Background to the Study
Over the years, Theatre facilities in this part of the world specifically in Nigeria are
nothing to write home about. Drawing cognizance to the state Arts Theatre, the facilities
inside the Arts theatres is in a disheartening state and it is appalling to remark that it has
beyond reasonable doubts contributed to the exile of audience in live theatre patronage. This is
because the lack of the basic social amenities and conveniences that their availability in our
Theaters can influence and motivate the audience to be eager and ready to patronize the
theatre is absent.
The fact that theatre is the mirror through which the society reflects itself is sacrosanct.
In order words, it is a place where societal issues are analysed, reflected and dissected. Edet
states that: “Every society all over the world can boast of some theatrical traditions. Nigeria is
the most populous black nation has a myriad and a robust theatrical tradition” (70).
This work is a critical X-ray of the phenomenal upturn in the process of the
management of the theatre. Just like the popular adage “You cannot give what you don’t
have”, a very effective theatre relies on a very efficient house management. This is because
the audience comes in contact with the theatre as a facility, and the house managers before
they come in contact with the theatre as an art piece. The house management aspect of the
theatre deals with the overall packaging that deals with presenting the theatre facility beautiful
and conducive for the theatre guest (audience). This implies that the house management aspect
should be treated effectively and professionally because it is the life wire of any theatrical.
Apart from the professional know-how of the house managers, the issue of insurgency
cannot be over emphasized as it has affected the patronage of live theatre in recent. In
agreement to the issue of insurgency, Toyin Ogundeji states that:
Historically, theatrical performances as seen from the time immemorial have always been a communal effort collectively enjoyed by people of various households, and there have been spaces for performances which were considerably safe for the audience to watch. In the traditional Nigerian society, result of good security was evident in the overnight display of fruits and vegetables on the Nigerian highways without anybody keeping watch and yet, the fear of stealing was nonexistence. In fact, the owners always met their wares as left. Such was the peace and tranquility people breathed in the air of Nigerian society then. It was with this peaceful atmosphere that moonlight storytelling thrived at the frontage of houses built with little or no fence. (1)
From the above paragraph, it is obvious that the issue of insecurity needs to be tackled as a
tool for utmost audience engineering.
With the already established stand point therefore this study set out to critical
exploration of an effective, well organised and well synchronised house management as an
effective instrument in increasing the patronage of the theatre on one side and the standard of
the theatre-audience relationship at the other side. Patronage is the hallmark of any theatrical
production, thus it is of great need that the theatre administrator must tackle any factor that
can hinder the patronage of the theatre by the theatre audience. Yacim and Archibong cited in
Edet believe that the Nigerian Theatre Administrator faces the problem of patronage. They
observe further that he is constantly confronted by this problem. Essien and Iyorza cited in
Edet equally observe that “For a long while now, theatre audiences in Nigeria have dwindled
to near extinction” just as Oqua cited Edet (71) opined that audiences for live theatre
performances in Nigeria have dwindled to a halt; to the extent that the churches and mosques
are filled to the brim while theatre audiences are scanty. Therefore, the theatre administrator
must put all his efforts in the house management process in order to face the ever-constant
problem of patronage.
This research would rely on Adegbemile Cultural centre in Akure for factual analysis and
explanation on the concepts already raised in this background and other conceptual issue that
will inevitably arise in the course of this study.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Some of the inefficiencies that pose as problem in this study are:
A. Unavailability of first aid box in case of fire or medical emergency.
B. The unkempt nature of Arts Theatre surroundings/environment.
C. Poor relationship between the audience and the art administrators
D. Deplorable condition/unavailability of convenience facilities i.e. running water,
functional toilets, electricity etc.
E. Absence of compensation i.e. gifts as a token of appreciation.
F. Porous/ineffective publicity method.
1.3 Aim / Objectives of the Study
The purpose for this research is to explore some basic components of the theatre
facility, how they could appeal to the audience and therefore could serve as a tool for audience
motivation in the theatre practices.
This study will basically analyse the following as its objectives
I. Examine effective house management principles as a tool for audience motivation
II. To restore theatre patronage to its rightful place in the theatre practice
III. To expose the benefits of an efficient house management system
IV. To identify a reason that contributes to poor house management as it relates to theatre
V. To provide practicable and applicable solutions to address dilapidated house
management systems.
1.4 Significance of the Study
The outcome/result of this study shall be of immense interest to the administrators of
the Art Council that are eager to see an improvement in the various departments of the art
council especially in the area of audience patronage, and also members of the audience that
would enjoy the various benefits of effective house management.
The study would reveal how effective house management principles could be used as a
tool for re-engineering audience back to the theatre which is their first love.
1.5 Research questions
1. What impact does effective house management play in motivating the audience?
2. What initiatives can the house manager employ for better audience motivation?
3. What are the perquisites that a house manager must possess for better audience
1.6 Scope of the Study
This study is confined to Ondo state centre for culture and tourism Adegbemile Akure,
Ondo state, and it aims at how to engineer audience for the theatre particularly with the
Adegbemile Arts Council.
1.7 Methodology
This research work would adopt quantitative methodology, by distributing
questionnaires would be distributed to the members of staff of the Adegbemile Cultural centre
in Akure, to ascertain the relevance of effective house management to audience patronage in
their theatre, this is because this theatre facility is case-study for this work. These
questionnaires would be used to penetrate the quantitative data, which are available in the
course of this study