Stageshakers! (2001) is a history and ethnographic introduction to the
Concert Party itinerant theatre of the Gold Coast and Ghana. From its
social club origins among the Anglophile elite of the early 20th century, the
Concert Party evolved over the course of fifty years into one of the newly
independent Ghana's most beloved art forms, an exuberant and
resourceful combination of vaudeville-like farce, social inquiry, and the
latest popular music.
The video is designed for classroom use and breaks into three
interviews with surviving veterans and rare archival photographs, In
Gold Coast Times outlines the development of the form since the
1920s: its shift, with touring, into African languages; its marriage with
highlife music; and its growth from trios into troupes.
Old Time Show features a re-creation
of a classic show by the veteran troupe, the Jaguar Jokers. We follow
along as the show is promoted and the stage built, with side trips to look at
the traditions of informal apprenticeship and female impersonation.
The section concludes with an extended sampling of the JJ's antic show,
"Onipa Hia Moa" (People Need Help).
Tonight! follows two different troupes
on tour, one the company of a successful pop star that caters to the popular
taste for stories of the supernatural, while the other less successfully
practices a sort of social drama. The economic and logistical challenges
of the business are covered, as well as opportunity to go backstage.