Theatre is a place of seeing. It is a place that people go in to interact with the productions. Since theatre is a service oriented institution it locations, name and the way it is organized contribute to the reason people patronize it. There is need therefore for theatre to be well structured for facilitated to render its services to the audience members. To this end, marketing theatre productions starts from the theatre itself. i.e. the theatre building as well as its name and branding. This study examines the marketing challenges and prospects of remodeling and renaming the University of Uyo Studio Theatre. In so doing, this work will examine all marketing strategies, challenges of marketing strategies and how that is affected by the renaming of the theatre from Little Play House to Model Theatre Studio. It is inspired that the study shall after new insights on the need for positioning appropriately in order to attract patronage.
1.1 GENERAL INTRODUCTION
Theatre in Nigeria today lives tends to be active in tertiary institution. This is because most theatrical productions are mostly found in University across the country. Onyonyor and Wekpe confirm this to be true in their own words thus:
First and foremost, let it be established that when we speak of the Nigerian theatre, we speak of a phenomenon which exists only within the confines of the Universities. Sadly enough, the theatre has still not been able to establish itself as an industry outside the University community in Nigeria for reasons which are both economic and sociological (153).
This is becomes a big problem to the development and sustenance of theatre and the appreciation of theatre by the public. In Nigeria, this could be attributed to the fact theatre cannot be successfully marketed because of the poor state of theatre in and outside the school environment. Like other Universities in Nigeria, the University of Uyo, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State has the Department of Theatre Arts, which owns a Campus of the University along Ikpa Road Akwa Ibom State Nigeria, Uyo. For several years, the department of Theatre Arts has been conducting and undertaking theatrical productions, which is an integral part of the requirements for the students and the department.
Over time, the public response, relations and appreciation of the productions from the University of Uyo theatre has not been effective. This is due to the visible setbacks in the departmental theatre for some time. These visible barriers had posed a stumbling block to the success of these productions. The need to solve these problems was paramount, thus, there was need to remodel, restructure, and rebrand the theatre. For instance, the audience comfort during the production is very importance. The auditorium then had benches which made the theatre uncomfortable for the audience members and could make such person not to come to the theatre again. In some cases some audience who are pressed would like to use the convenience but there is none that they could make use of and so they have to go out to the main auditorium. These are the few challenges amongst others which led to the remodel, restructure and rebranding the theatre.
The need to restructure and rebrand the University of Uyo, theatre was long overdue and it was a step to take the University of UYo theatre to a new level. The Department of theatre Arts, University of Uyo was given a temporary accreditation after the visit of the accreditation team in 2015. This was a catalyst to the immediate modeling and renaming of the theatre. It was the beginning of the new phase which will see a different theatre (a theatre with all the necessary facilities and spaces). During the visit of the accreditation team in 2015, The Little Play House was faulted with lack of appropriate facilities, spaces as well as a good theatre structure(s). This prompted the need for the Department and the school environment in order not to lose it accreditation in the next visit of the accreditation team two years later. Accreditation is usually conducted to certify the competency, credibility and standard of a department to verify that a department has the requisite resources to offer standard learning process. For the department of theatre arts, University of Uyo the facilities, structures and spaces were lacking thus there was a high risk that the department might lose its credibility as a viable department that can offer excellent learning. The remodeling of the theatre is a step to market the theatre away from the University environment.
Marketing is an important area in theatre practice. It involves taking or introducing theatre productions to the public which are the audience members. According to Decker:
Marketing is making connections between Customers with your products, brand(s) and Business, such that they likely to buy from you. (22)
Marketing in theatre involves creating awareness to the audience members with your products or services (productions) in a way that will lure them to watch and patronize the productions. In Nigeria, luring audience members to a theatre to watch a production has been a huge task, due to challenges that face theatre. With adequate strategies, this obstacle can be duly surmounted.
The remodeling and renaming of the University of Uyo theatre serve as perfect parameters for marketing theatre productions. The Little Play House; which was the former name of theatre, lacked facilities, spaces and it was a poor structure. These misnomers created unpalatable environment for inadequate theatre marketing. Though there are few challenges but the benefit accruable from this remolding theatre cannot be over emphasized.
Marketing however, involves more than telling the public of your goods .according to Kotler, who sees marketing as: “the science and not of exploring creating and delivering value to satisfy the needs of a target market at a profit” (2). Theatre marketing aligns with this definition by Kotler because theatre marketing involve exploring and looking for avenues, creating – bringing innovations. With this, remodeling and renaming the University of Uyo theatre is a strategy by theatre marketers to lure the audience and make sure their satisfaction is guaranteed. Remodeling and renaming the University of Uyo Theatre with its productions to the outside community. It is a worthwhile step toward the success and realization of the marketing plans.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEMS
Poor structures and lack of facilities can make theatre uncomfortable for the audience to view a good production. The aim product of theatre is to satisfy the audience as lack of adequate facilities, space, structures can make the audience turn their back on theatre.
The University of Uyo, theatre over the years was face with these challenges The Little Play House as it was formally called was a shadow of what a good theatre ought to be. The theatre was very small in structure, with inadequate facilities, limited space and little was achieved. Due to this, marketing productions in the theatre was problematic.
Audience members were not comfortable by the production because of the aforementioned problems. Advertising the Little Play House with all the challenges cited above was a very herculean task. With different principles and strategies, theatre managers tried to entice the above mentioned problems.
The remodeling and renaming of The Little play House was a right move to elevate the dying nature of the University of Uyo theatre. This move presents an enticing invitation to the audience and undesirable benefits to the theatre and school management at large.
1.3 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
Every research work matters to a great extent because of its contributions to knowledge and societal development. This work is significant because it highlight the marketing benefits of an adequate structuring and facilitating of a theatre house. The work exposes the undeniable fact that remodeling and renaming studio theatre like the Little Play House can bring marketing values to a theatre. Also, the work is significant because it investigates the idea of theatre marketing employed by theatre practitioners, challenges facing theatre marketing in Nigeria and the scope of marketing and branding in the arts and creative world. Furthermore, the work with proper data analysis exposes the prospects and the challenges confronting the remolded and renamed Model Theatre studio of the University of Uyo.
1.4 JUSTIFICATION OF THE STUDY
Research is conducted by researchers to answer questions in different fields. This researcher like every other researcher is poised to do likewise. This work provides in depth guidelines on how academic or non academic theatre can be remodelled and renamed to attract audience in the present times. This work presents marketing strategies and principles for theatre practitioners amongst others. This work serves as an academic tool for students and lecturers in the area of theatre administration and management. It is also beneficial to private business individuals and companies in a way of providing new ideas on how to market their products or services.
1.5 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This work covers strictly focused on the benefit and challenges of renamed and remodeled theatre studio and marketing strategies, types, challenges facing marketing in the country.
1.6 LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
This research revolves around the remodeled and renamed theatre of the Department of Theatre Arts, University of Uyo. This work will only center on the marketing challenges and prospects of the aforementioned theatre.
1.7 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
This research adopts a quantitative methodology therefore using the case study and survey as the research design. The researcher uses in depth and close examination of the University of Uyo Theatre and its related centennial conditions. Interviews and distribution of questionnaire were the methods employed by this researcher to collect information to find answers to the research problem.
1.8 ORGANIZATION OF THE WORK
This work is organized in five chapters. Chapter one is the introduction, which comprises of the background of the study, Statement of the problem, Justification of the study, Limitation of the work, Scopes of the study, Research Methodology of the work and organization of the work. Chapter Two is the Review of Literature. Chapter Three is focuses on Research Methodology where the methods of data collection and analysis are presented. Chapter four is on: The Impact of Marketing on the production of 2017/ 2018 season of productions, Chapter Five is the Summary of Findings and Conclusion.