“It was in GSTS that I discovered I was meant to be an artist.” From juggling schools to directing one of the most successful plays in the history of the University of Ghana, politically and artistically inclined, Ebow Barton Odro Jnr. is most definitely set for greatness!
He began his basic education in Cape Coast in the Central Region of Ghana from where he moved to Takoradi to continue at Christ The King School. After a year he was moved once again to St. John’s Preparatory school in Accra where he was drawn a year behind. After living and schooling in Accra for a while, he relocated to Ayinasi in the Western Region where he was enrolled at the Holy Child School where he completed Grade 6 then back to Takoradi once again to complete his junior high school education. In spite of the instability in his life at the time, Ebow Barton Odro Jnr. persevered in his education when he passed his basic education certificate exams with flying colors and gained admission to his first choice school, Ghana Secondary Technical School popularly known as GSTS in 2007 which is in every right one of the best secondary schools in the western Region of Ghana and Ghana as a whole.
It was there in GSTS that he found his love for arts. “It was in GSTS that I discovered I was meant to be an artist” he says. He joined the Writers’, Drama and Debaters’ Club in his first year and has been acting since then. He later became the Vice President of the Club whiles diligently executing other prefectorial duties and contributed immensely to its progress.
The year 2012 will mark the beginning of a major deciding factor in his journey through the world of Arts.
Upon completion of his Secondary School education, he applied to the University of Ghana where he was offered Archaeology and Theatre. This came as a disappointment and whiles he waited to start school he made efforts to change the courses he was offered but to no avail. This broke his heart but he managed to keep his head up and accepted to read the respective courses in good faith.
The decision to pursue the courses he was offered in the University of Ghana has proved to be one of the best decisions he’s ever made in his life. He came to a realization that he had been offered a course in a field which he had personal interest in and hence decided to major in it.
“Theatre as a course is one of the most interesting courses one can ever come across but then again, it is also very difficult and stressful” he says. One has to be willing to put in all their effort to succeed in pursuing Theatre as a course in spite of all its fun aspects due to its demanding nature.
Following the decision to become a Theatre major was just the beginning for young Ebow. As the name clearly indicates, Ebow Barton Odro Jnr. Is nephew to the current 1st deputy speaker of parliament in Ghana and MP for Cape Coast North, Honorable Ebow Barton – Odro and is named after him. This is believed to have stirred an interest in the area of politics for this young man and as such in his third year in the University of Ghana proceeded to run for office as the JCR President of his hall of residence, the African Union Hall (Pentagon). He no doubt won the race for presidency and was bestowed upon, the responsibility of seeing to the welfare of the hall and its residents. “It wasn’t easy, I must say. Considering the demanding nature of my course as a theatre Major and Having to combine the responsibility of being hall president was very stressful and engaging but due to the passion I had for both and divine strength from God I managed to pull through”.
In the field of arts, Ebow Barton Odro Jnr. has shown promise and has easily become a departmental favorite as he is loved by the general public, specifically those who know of him, academically, on stage, and behind the scenes. He is an amazing performer and a relentlessly hardworking director. Qualities which have brought him success. He has acted in several plays like Ladipo’s last stand” He said she Said” “Asana” “Perpetual and the Habit of Unhappiness” among others. He’s also directed a few amongst which he’s gained popularity. The likes of “Waiting for Lefty” and”Aikin Mata” which he dubbed “Sex Strike”
“I would say I am a young actor and director and haven’t yet faced a failure in career as I have been very successful at both. I believe that UG School of Performing Arts(SPA) has been of great help to me through the impartation of all the skills and knowledge that all performing artists should possess and now I can boldly say that with the necessary funding I can direct any play.”
He cites the support of his parents in his field of study as a huge source of motivation. He recalls their constant encouragement even when others, family and friends, thought less it. “My mother would travel all the way from Takoradi to come and see my plays and that shows how proud and supportive she is of me.” He also mentions Tyler Perry as one of his biggest inspirations.
At the Efua T. Sutherland Studio popularly known as the ETS studio in the University of Ghana Legon, student shows normally run for three days and is usually patronized by students. However “Aikin Mata” a play which he directed and dubbed “Sex Strike” for his final year project became one of the biggest plays in the history of Theatre in the University of Ghana. It was one of the plays that gained social media popularity and on the due date gained large numbers to the extent that the show had to be re-run due to an unexpected turn in attendance. “We had to run the show four times in order to satisfy all our audience and this show, I believe is what has given me the necessary kick start I need as a performing artist.” The success of the show due to its meticulous execution has aroused the interest of people who are currently willing to produce the show at a national level.
He has attributed the success of the show to the hard work and diligence of his team. Costume and set designers who spent time researching on the perfect outfits for the play, a stage manager who was always brainstorming and would call at any time of the day to make sure new levels of creativity were unlocked to better the play and most importantly selfless actors and crew members who love what they do and would forgo their sleep to perfect their act, one of the reasons why he has decided to work with them once again. He also mentions and shows appreciation to his publicity team who were always wide awake and diligent with publicity on social media platforms which proved to be a major contribution to the success of this play.
There is never a successful journey without a bumpy ride at certain points. One of the obstacles that stood in the way of this play was sponsorship, but already aware of the situation, even though it wasn’t easy, he found a way to invest a lot of money. “Aside these obstacles, I’ve had some dull moments mostly coming from some family members and my mother’s friends. Some have insulted the performing arts and openly showed their disapproval, but then again who are they to disapprove of anything in my life” he says.
Ebow Barton Odro Jnr, an exemplary representation of the institution of art and the promise its potential has, has hopes of becoming influential in the field of arts in order to open the eyes of society to the futuristic prospects that it holds, whiles pushing the love for arts in Ghana to a different level.
“Throughout my journey, my parents, my siblings, my friends and my lecturers have shown massive support and have kept me going every inch of the way and it feels really fulfilling to look back and know that there are people who are ever ready to support your every move. To them I say God Bless you all.”
To highlight a few, Ebow Barton – Odro Jnr. has been an amazing all round stage and screen actor. Apart from the many stage plays he’s been in, he has also had the opportunity of being in a few short films and in the process has acquired special effect make up skills and media and management oriented skills. In 2014 he won an award for best student actor at the Association of Students of Performing Arts (ASPA) Dinner.
Currently working on the show slated for the 7th of October 2016 at the National Theatre, he mentions that he has no regrets whatsoever being in the field of arts. “Art is life” he says, “so it’s the best place to be. I hope like mine, parents would come to understand this and make room for children who want to pursue the arts, whichever form it may be in.”
Compiled by Jephthah Osei-Mensah