Venerated playwright, Ebo Whyte gained popularity with his segment, Food For Thought on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show.
That adoration soared with plays from his Roverman Productions, which have helped boost the Theatre industry.
Our columnist, Arnold Asamoah-Baidoo, recently had a chat with the Uncle Ebo about theatre, his childhood, love life among others.
Question (Q): You are well-known for speaking about relationships and marriages. Doesn’t that put pressure on your relationship?
Answer (A): No! For a long time, I resisted giving talks on marriage because I feel it is presumptuous for anybody to hold the view of a perfect marriage. No marriage is fireproof.
When a light bulb is not functioning in the house, you change the bulb and not the house. I have been married for 34 years and I don’t have a perfect marriage, so, I never paint a rosy picture of my union.
Q: Little is known about your family life. Can you share it with us?
A: My Father was A.B. Whyte of the Judicial Service and my mother, Beatrice Aikins, was a fishmonger. Both are deceased. My first cycle schools were in South Suntreso SDA and South Suntreso L.A. Middle School. Secondary School education was at Osu Presby. I did O’Level, worked for six years, then did A-level after which I went to Legon to study Statistics and while at it, I also sat for exams at the Institute of Chartered Accounting.
Mrs. Florence Whyte is my wife. I met her through theatre, via her cousin, who was a member of a drama troupe I was leading. She is a caterer and oversees the catering aspect for Roverman. She is also heavily involved in the distribution department of the group.
We have no biological children but we have adopted many. Now, we don’t adopt children anymore, they adopt us.
Q: How have you dealt with your inability to have biological children?
A: In the early days, there was pressure on Florence because society insists that marriage should have kids. We sought medical help, approached almost all medical experts in Ghana. It got to a point we shared tips on childbirth to other childless couples and interestingly, they had children.
At this stage, I am relaxed about the situation and dedicate my childlessness as a Ministry to God.
Q: What excites you and what puts you off?
A: Music excites me. Beautiful legs of ladies excite me. I don’t know what it is about beautiful legs but I can’t get enough of them.
People singing and praising God excites me. Hearing about Ghanaians doing well on the world stage like Komla Dumor and Azumah Nelson excites me and seeing young people doing well excites me.
What puts me off are politicians stealing from the nation and Ghanaians putting down fellow Ghanaians who are doing well.
Q: Do you get advances from ladies and how do you cope?
A: I have stopped chasing women, women now chase me (laughs)! The fear of God helps me to cope with such advances. It is not even about my wife, it is about the fear of God. I have seen great men fall; great men who could not zip up.
Q: Are you a rich man?
A: I am rich in knowledge, rich in health, rich in experiences, rich in quality of life, rich in peace of mind and rich in the fulfillment of knowing I am doing what I was called to do. We define wealth narrowly because when you are old and alone, money won’t take care of you. The wealthy ones are those who are lonely.
I believe money is the reward you get for service to society and I believe I am serving the society well. I am building this (Roverman) and investing in it – investing in our band, stage setup, technical apparatus, rehearsal grounds, training etc.
Q: Has Theatre been fulfilling for you?
A: Theatre has been rewarding, right from 1975. I owe a lot to Theatre, although radio gave me the name. It helped me overcome my inferiority complex. Theatre gave me my wife.
I show appreciation to Ms. Commey who paid for me to write my Common Entrance Exams. Mr. Charles Wreko, CEO of Wrenco, who gave me my first financial support to produce ‘Unhappy Wives, Confused Husbands’.
Thanks to Mr. Kwasi Twum of Multimedia and Joy FM for the support. I can’t mention everybody and they should forgive me because, I am a beneficiary of the goodwill, generosity and benevolence of many people.
Q: Do you get worried when your cast do not get the needed recognition with regards to awards?
A: No, I think awards are overrated. They look good on the CV, but it’s about going home and having a sense of satisfaction for what you have done. There’s no award that beats that.
You know some awards are bought, some people buy their recognition. My people have the satisfaction that whatever recognition they have thus far was not bought.
Q: How does sponsorship affect your productions?
A: A sponsor comes on board with certain goals. It achieves such goals and it is not interested anymore or people at certain positions also change. Typically, you also get companies who want to introduce new products and they want a platform to sell it and once that product becomes established, they have no use for the platform anymore.
One thing I have also detected is that increasingly, the decision-makers for sponsorship for most companies are not Ghanaians or not stationed in Ghana, so, a proposal about theatre goes to them and they are reluctant.
Q: Roverman Productions is a market leader, how do you feel about producers such as Naa Ashorkor, Latif Abubakar etc?
A: I am excited about them. For each of their shows, we buy at least 20 tickets to watch as a way of supporting them. When I am available, I go for their shows. I encourage my members to also watch their plays.
My only concern is that, we all have a responsibility to raise the bar. We shall be judged by the worse of us and not the best of us. So, I encourage all of us to raise the bar.
Q: Roverman has seen and done it all. Or?
A: No, we haven’t even scratched the surface yet. We need to have a theatre of our own (Roverman Theatre), a 3,000-seater with other offices with fantastic washrooms and parking facilities.
We want to start showing plays on weekends, where we can do eight shows a week instead of doing eight shows per quarter as being done now.
Also, we want to roll out seasonal ticketing, where tickets would be sold out when the year opens, build a strong relationship with Corporate Ghana and churches where they will bus members to shows.
Q: What’s your view about government’s support or lack thereof for the arts industry?
A: Government can help with the establishment of a state-of-the art venue(s) and other infrastructure that would elevate the arts.
It should also create a stable economy for Corporate Ghana to strive, so, they can help support the arts. It should also pay attention to the National Theatre.
Government setting up funds for the arts is not a good idea because when such situations happen, you have members of the party in government, who have no artistic nerve, form acting and music groups, just to access such funds.
Source: Daily Graphic
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