What makes great theatre? The Legend of Aku Sika

June 6, 2024
Curtesy: Theo Acheampong, PhD

Theatre has been an integral part of society and human nature since pre-historic times.

Even life itself is a potpourri of theatrical performances, with its highs and lows as one goes through the cycle of birth, , family, work, death, etc.

Great theatre awakens your senses—sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch— and takes you through different stages of complex emotions: happiness, sadness, fear, anger, surprise, and disgust.

Great theatre is also an avenue to project and reflect on the culture of a people.

I had the opportunity this weekend to watch Naa Ashorkor Mensah-Doku's directorial debut with THE LEGEND OF AKU SIKA, a play written by Ghanaian playwright, actor, and director Professor Martin Okyere Owusu of the Department of Theatre Arts, .

What makes great theatre? The Legend of Aku Sika
Curtesy: Theo Acheampong, PhD


Based on an African folktale, the play explores themes of love, drama, mystery, galamsey, and discriminatory cultural norms set in celestial and earthly realms.

The King's Wife [Nanayere Ama] accuses him of disrespecting her and customs over his plans to marry Aku, a maiden with a missing arm. The King denies this allegation of Aku's deformity, so the queenmother and elders [courtiers] summon the Aku before a grand gathering of the townsfolk to reveal her arm.

However, there are consequences: the King will be dethroned if Aku has a disability. Nanayere, on the other hand, will lose her life if Aku is not deformed.

This play raises issues with social attitudes towards the disabled or physically challenged individuals in our community.

Ultimately, the gods intervene and restore Aku's missing limb, making her whole and thus marrying the King. Following pleas for leniency, a diktat from the King also spares the first wife from beheading by the Asafo [warriors].

It would be more interesting if the play could be adapted in future in two ways:

  1. to allow the king to marry Aku as is [this will help reinforce the view that disability is not inability], and
  2. to have some punishment for the first wife even if not death. There must be consequences to one's actions!

Thanks to Naa Ashorkor Mensah-Doku and support from George Quaye for putting on such an excellent show at the .

The background music from the National Symphony Orchestra and National Dance Ensemble was on point paaa.

I thoroughly enjoyed it, and it is great to see the revival of theatre arts in Ghana.

Legend of Aku Sika is a must-see! It occurs again on 8th and 9th June at the National Theatre at 4pm and 8pm.


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