aesthetics and television drama: an appraisal of nta programme “clinic matters”

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1.1 Introduction
Drama is man’s efforts to represent what he has experienced in a form others will see and experience with him and have the same feelings he had about a particular issue. To achieve this, he might employ other forms like poetry, dance, music etc. these, he could also blend to give that deep feeling that will make the receiver or audience laugh with him or cry with him. He must choose skillfully, intelligently and artistically means and ways that will intensify, clarify and interpret his experience to his audience until they reach the same field of experience with him. Or to put it in the word of Akpan (2000) “… (the putting on stage of a drama performance” is a human activity consisting in this that one man consciously by means of external science hands unto others feelings he has lived through and that other people are affected by these feelings and also experience it”.

To achieve this, certain sense perceptions in the receiver must be manipulated in order to create the desired feelings. This manipulation of sense perceptions by means of dramatic and electronic elements is known as “Aesthetics”. According to Akpan (2000) “Aesthetics in theater involves observation of life, to select those aspects of it that seem especially significant to clarify and intensify with any medium”. These selections will then create aesthetic or feelings in the audience.
Zettl (1990) in Akpan (2000 defined “Aesthetics” as a study of certain sense perceptions and how these perception can be most effectively clarified, intensified and interpreted through a medium, such as television or film for a specific recipient. The application of aesthetics elements to draw attention of the viewer towards seeing the way life exists beyond his own environment and to feel and experience as an eye witness the condition of other people. This may either change his perception about certain values, notions and things he accepts as given in the society or his perception may be reinforced.

This is the task facing the television drama director who must arouse interest and feelings in his viewers. This he could only achieve by blending the aesthetic elements in his medium to pass across his message communicatively. To confirm this Zettl (1990) says that “through understanding of aesthetics principles and their prudent use is no longer a matter of choice; it has become an essential prerequisite for the responsible communicator”. This means that a television drama director who aims at being successful must know how to play on the viewer’s emotions. He must be versed in television aesthetic that will allow him to control and to blend both the video and audio fields to create a gestalt experience that will leave his audience not only satisfied but yearning to do something about issue raised in the drama, this is television drama in its simplest form.

It is the application of aesthetics both in drama and theater that marks out today’s production from the era of Poetic Theater to the present state of absolute objectivity in presentation. To use the words of Hegel (2005) “Now with the development of these kinds of comedy we have reached the real end of our philosophical enquiry. We began with symbolic art where personality struggles to find itself as form and content and to become objective to itself. We proceed to the plastic art of the Greece where the divine, now conscious of itself is presented to us in living individuals. We ended with the romantic art of emotions and deep feelings. I could not agree more with Hegel that the romantic art of emotions and deep feeling is the end of our philosophical enquiry.

It is at this ear of emotions and deep feeling in drama production and presentation that Clinic Matters was born. The Clinic Matters is on NTA (Nigerian Television Authority) network programme that came to educate, inform and entertain the audience on variety society. It has treated such issues as bribery, matrimonial disharmony, family planning etc.

A clinic matter is the brain child of Mr. Adekunle Salawu. He said he conceived the idea of the play during his school days at the University of Ibadan in 1999. The play was originally created for radio until 2009 when it was tried on television and it made instant viewing success with the audience. In 2009 clinic matters was commercialized and made a national network programme.

1.2 Background to the Study
Over the third world and the developed countries have almost reached a point of open confrontation because of one-sided flow of information. It is particularly noticed and felt in the area of entertainments which come in form of television drama, dance, documentary, discussion etc.

These programmes dramatize the everyday experience of a busy doctor, his committed nurses. The programme also carries cultural and sometimes political undertones which constitute cultural imperialism. Imperialism is defined by Boyd Barrett in his essay on media imperialism as a “uni-directional flow of information without a corresponding reciprocation of influence by the receiving countries”. The problem is what is to be done to redress this imbalanced? One of the remedies in the area of entertainment programmes in form, vision, content and most importantly in aesthetic presentation”. This is what this work will examine using Clinic Matters, it was informed by virtue of its being one of the newest NTA drama and its appeal to the audience. The work will also find out whether sponsorship has anything to do with the program quality.

1.3 Statement of the Problem
Any television production should explore all the necessary aesthetic elements in conveying messages to the viewers so as to arouse interest, deep–feeling and emotions.

Akpan (2000) says “each medium has certain element which when emphasize or rearranged can greatly intensify the feelings of the audience during viewing presentation”. The crux of this study is to find out to what extent CLINIC MATTERS” confirms to the principles that make for aesthetic production in television. The problem of this study is to ascertain the extent to which the aesthetic elements of light sound, space, time-motion are manipulated to clarify, intensify and interpret experience to the viewers.

According to Akpan (2000) “Aesthetics calls for looking beyond what we see on the surface. In order to reach the distinctively aesthetic, the theater artist must ignore the surface elements which can equally be found in non artistic or practical contents and go straight to the mind which organizes them”.

1.4 Research Questions
For a television drama to achieve its aim of ordering and intensifying of experience towards effective communication which is the work of “CLINIC MATTERS” sets out to do; it must be aesthetically produced.
The questions this study will try to answer which include:
Does “CLINIC MATTERS” conform to the known principles of aesthetic production?

What constraints are working against the achievement of this?
Is it possible to address these constraints for future productions?

1.5 Objectives of the Study
The objectives of the study are to:
1. appraise the application of or non application of aesthetics in the production of CLINIC MATTERS.
2. identify problems if any in the control or manipulation of aesthetic elements in CLINIC MATTERS
3. provide a basis for reference on future productions.

1.6 Significance of the Study
Practically, everyone who has discussed television has tended to discuss if from the point of content. The fact is not in dispute of course. But the fact is that it is over played to the neglect of the pertinent development of the techniques of presentation. television drama

Akpan (2000) in drawing attention to the importance of techniques in production says that “in structuring a television event or situation or event but to record or create stimuli that will affect the viewer in a manner similar to a viewers experience in the real situation”. We are concerned with how the artist’s perception can be most effectively clarified, intensified and interpreted for a specific recipient. television drama

Aesthetics structure is concerned with the ability to communicate the situation in a believable way. Faleti quoted in Emecheta (1990) observed that “a good television production is one which…..has sufficient memorable shots in it that makes the experience last long in viewer’s imagination”, if these are what TV productions means then how far have our scholars and institutions offered insight into these techniques?

Many productions are still products of the “road-side video man who is only versed in the art of “Pan left, Pan right. The techniques of camera movements are only discussed in passing, yet one cannot help to remember with nostalgia the words of Nyerere in Nwuneli et al (1990) “while others are going to the moon we are still trying to reach the villages”. We are today trying to realise and emphasize the importance of television aesthetics while others did that almost ninety years ago. “Since the realization of the importance of techniques in film production in 1914 by D. W. GRFFITH writes Bittner (1989) he (GRFFITF) had realized not only the tremendous potentials of the camera to capture the intense emotions of the actor but also flexibility of different camera angles and shots to communicate these emotions to the audience until GRIFFITH’s time the camera had been primarily a silent witness to theatre like production….” television drama
According to Olusola in Nwuneli et al. (1990). “The techniques of production of audio-visual presentation….. Requires a lot of learning and those who are able to be entrusted to use this modern tool must be fully prepared for the task….massive investment in the education of modern professional film and television producers so they can meet the challenges of reaching the minds of millions of people”. As if taking a cue from Olusola’s observation the governments have set up the TV College, Jos, which offers courses in radio and television production. Our universities and institutions of technology now liaise with broadcasting organizations by offering industrial trainings to undergraduates. With all these efforts the techniques of production applied by our producers and directors leave much to be desired.

A good knowledge of this discipline is very important because I believe that the technique of a message presentation should have equal importance if not more with the content of the message. According to Marshal Macluha in his essay on the environmental theory, he claimed that “channel of transmission is more important than the message content…… thus, this study will create more knowledge and awareness not only to the producer of “CLINIC MATTERS” but also to create understanding of the difficult of the producer and give suggestion to other producers. television drama

This study intends to contribute to elevating the camera from the position of “silent witness to events in a theater like production to the position of the perfect witness, interpreter, clarifier and intensifier of experience. television drama

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