Educational Theatre Management: a Panacea to Business


The Business Dictionary defines management as a factor of production, which consists of interlocking functions of creating corporate policy and organising, planning, controlling and directing an organisation’s resources in order to achieve the objectives of the company policy (2019).

Management is the wheel that drives an organisation, company and business to its desired goal which is to break even. Prior to the 19th Century, organisations were disorder in their management processes because the major focus was on manufacturing alone. The process of transferring the manufactured goods to the consumers was not given priority, which led to a lot of waste and chaotic situation (Joe Taylor Jr, 2019).

Going by the Business history, Taylor was the first business leader to introduce the three core principles of management and leadership that are still in use till today. He revolutionized the management aspect of his company by introducing the standardized processes and measurement of performance principles, which are scientific techniques of measuring individual performance.

According to the 5000BC Sumerians records the Egyptian pyramids, the great China wall, the Colosseum in Rome and the Taj Mahal in India were all evidences of the ancient management skills (Dawas Sharma, 2013)

The formal study of management started in the 19th century as an advocacy by Frederick. W. Taylor (1856-1915). He advocated that it was the duty of management to design jobs, provide incentives to enhance workers’ abilities to achieve higher productivity at work place. This scientific approach to management brought economic liberation and transformation from “entrepreneurial capitalism to managerial capitalism”.

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It brought about rapid industrial growth, established generally accepted method of performance of employee and developed payment system that provided a reward for workers’ performance. Based on Fayol’s approach Engineers and managers of French miners came to the conclusion that management was an activity common to all human undertakings – home, business, government, school and that all these undertakings needed five basic administrative functions to be effective (Diwas Shama Man; Mohan Mishra, 2013).

History of Theatre

Theatre can be defined as a collaborative act that involves life performance which uses actors and actresses or inanimate objects to convey artistic expression before a live audience in a specific place.

At inception, the theatre as an art form was drawn from the performance of the ritualistic festival of Dionysus in Greece. But according to the Wikipedia Encyclopedia (2013) the study of theatre as an academic discipline can be traced to the Plato’s idea of a broad education system for the Greek citizenry between (427-348BC). Hence the establishment of the first Academy in Athens, which was regarded as the first institute of higher learning in the western world.

Theatre Management in Nigeria

In Nigeria Theatre Arts as an academic discipline started from the University of Ibadan, School of Drama in October, 1963 with the admission of students for Diploma course. There was a six month collaborative work between Kola Ogunmola Travelling Theatre (Artist in –Residence) and the School of Drama; which served as internship training for the Ogunmnola Travelling Theatre. This synergy resulted into the documentation of Kola Ogunmola’s works and the birth of series of productions in 1962. The School learnt some basic styles from the troupe while the troupe also assimilated new ideas and methods of running a private troupe. The pioneer staffs were about 10 with Geoffery Axworthy as the Director of School and Martin Banham as Deputy Director. Since the establishment till date more than 80% of Universities in Nigeria offer Theatre Art as a course of study under various names such as- Media Arts, Dramatic arts, Performing Arts, Creative Arts,Theatre and Film studies, etc. A change of nomenclature took place in 1970 from the School of Drama to Theatre Arts department with Prof. Wole Soyinka as the Head of Department. Despite the fact that Theatre Arts as a department started in 1970, Theatre management as a discipline did not commence until 1974 when it was first introduced into the course curriculum (Remi, A Adedokun 1992).

Wikipedia defined Theatre as a collaborative form of fine art that uses live performers, typically, actors and actresses to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience in a specific place, often a stage (2019),

Arising from this definition, the audience is as important and vital as the performance because without the audience the production is incomplete. The audience is the consumer of a theatrical performance without which a production cannot be appreciated. The arm of the theatre that deals directly with the audience is the publicity and advertisement which is an offshoot of management.

Potentials of Nigeria Theatre Business Industry

Nigeria is endowed with diverse cultural endowments, creative skills, traditional festivals and heritages that can serve as raw materials for theatre practitioners. Despite these natural resources that can be processed into finished goods by theatre practitioners to earn a living; 80% of theatre arts graduates find it difficult to attain a living from the knowledge they tenaciously acquired for 4years, making them job seekers instead of being job provider. The aims of acquiring educational knowledge are to boost economic emancipation and elevate the social status of the acquirer. If after many years of graduation as a theatre artist one cannot make ends meet, it can be said that there is a missing link in the process of acquiring the knowledge. Theatre arts are a unique profession that does not hinge or totally depend on academic theories and impacted knowledge in the classroom. It allows for the exploration of culture, creativity in the traditional space married with personal creative skill in a collaborative venture that can alleviate poverty and enhance the social status of practitioners. If these creative endowments and skills are harnessed and managed properly and effectively, they have the abilities to generate income and provide jobs for our teaming graduates. For practitioners to earn a living, theatre must be labeled with the nomenclature “a Business” it must not be called a business alone, it must be treated as such

Theatre as a Business Venture

Stephenson sees business as the regular production or purchase and sales of goods undertaken with the objectives of earning profit and acquiring wealth through the satisfaction of human want (2008).

Also Dicksee defines business as human activities directed towards producing or acquiring wealth through buying and selling of goods (1980).

For him, business entails incessant production and distribution of goods and services with the sole aim of making profit by abiding by some basic market principles/ethics.

Features of Business Ethics

The ethics are the sole of the business, the solid foundation upon which business is built without which the objectives of the business cannot be achieved. Some of such features include:

  • It deals with the exchange of goods and services between one or more persons.
  • It also involved different types of transactions that will culminate into achieving the major objectives.
  • The foremost objective desire of a businessman is to make profit.
  • The business man must display good business qualities, skills, experience and expertise in the running of the business.
  • A business man must be prepared to take risk and ventures into some uncertain ventures.
  • In every business, there must be a buyer and a seller without which the process will be incomplete and the objectives cannot be achieved.
  • There must be a marketing and distribution channel, through which the product will get to the consumer.
  • The end product must promote human satisfaction, without which the production chain will be broken.
  • A business man must be conscious and anxious of feedback from consumers and as well as give back to the society, environment and community in which the business is situated as well as render some basic social responsibilities that will affect the people positively.

Theatre performance as a business venture must possess these features, also a manager must be knowledgeable about business fundamentals, Jayson Demers claimed that it is difficult and almost impossible to build a successful business by oneself alone without having mentors, partners, vendors and peers alongside.

Attributes of a Successful Business

According to Chris Argrys and Donald Schon (1996) organisational learning (OL) is an offshoot of organisational inquiry. This implies that if the projected result is different from the actual result the individual /group will engage the inquiry method of learning; which entails formal interaction with other organisational members. In this case the projected result is that 80% of management students desired to be business manager while in the actual result only very few achieve this; hence the engagement of the enquiring method. Thus, learning as a direct product of formal interaction is not based on any written rules, laws and procedures, but based on understanding of the espoused theory and the theory-in-use

The three learning process that must take place in an organisation to enhance success in business is:-

  • Single – loop learning
  • Double – loop learning

The single loop learning implies that when no sales or when sales is at its lower ebb the marketing manager employs the inquiry method to take a drastic decision or actions to restore and get the company back.

In the double loop learning, the manager must take decisions that will prevent the occurrence of future problems which can involve a change of marketing strategies, repackaging of product, value addition and rebranding.

Deuteron-learning-“learning how to learn” it entails learning outside the enclaves of the classroom. Studying about the nitty-gritty of the organisation and practicing it, understanding the basic mental model for effective management of an organisation.

State of Theatre Management in Nigeria Universities

The purpose of students specialising in Theatre Management is to learn how to be professional theatre managers. High percentages of them desired to manage a theatre company of their own but such a dream has been a mirage. This was due to some reasons that will be discussed in this paper. About 80% of the theatre management courses in Nigeria Universities are introduced at 200 level second semester as introduction to management. At 300 levels, they are introduced as elective. This type of curriculum does not thoroughly expose the students to theatre management studies before they are allowed to specialised. In most cases, the serious minded students have concluded on their area of specialisation before they got to 300 levels. This structure of learning coupled with the fact that 300/400 levels are not enough to study and learn about management as an area of specialization, have contributed too few students specializing in theatre management.

In addition, students are not exposed to practicals in management like other courses. This also limited the students from practicalising the theory taught in class, which has made them myopic and frightened in practicalising their managerial skills after graduation. The name ‘Theatre managers’ are nomenclature/terminology for management lecturers without adequate productions to manage. The result is that many of the students endlessly seek for jobs instead of venturing into managing a business outfit or collaboratively establishing theatre organisation.


Going by the proponents of the organisational learning theory (OL) Chris Argrys and Donald Schon the expected management graduates are expected to be effective and efficient managers is different from the real result hence the employment of the inquiry method of learning in discovering the problems and propounding a solution. Interrogating 50 students from 10 universities and observing their course allocation forms from 2010 to 2019.


The study categorically asserted that management as a course of study in the Theatre Arts Department in Nigerian Universities are seen and treated as supplementary courses. In this era of advocacy for youth empowerment, entrepreneur skills and encouragement of small-to-medium enterprises as a means of reducing unemployment, Theatre has the capacities to create jobs, employ and occupy our teaming youth creatively as income generating ventures and improve their social status. For this to happen, management courses must be given the center stage in the department.

Conclusion and Recommendation

Conclusively the paper suggests that management courses should be introduced from first semester 100 level alongside with practicals. The training programme should also incorporate 4 weeks internship training for management students at 200 and 300 levels after second semesters (SIWES- students industrial work scheme). During these periods, students should be attached to private Theatre companies where they will have the opportunity to practicalised what they have learnt and learn what cannot be taught in class thereby making them conversant with the nifty gritty of the profession. At 400 levels they should consolidate by managing productions in the department by marrying the practical and the theory together. This will instill boldness, courage and assurance that they have been properly groomed to create employment not to seek employment. Theatre management should be considered as a means of acquiring entrepreneurship skills. There is the need to infuse a comprehensive theatre management curriculum into the theatre programme in higher institutions in Nigeria?


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Educational Theatre Management: a Panacea to Business. (2019, Nov 27). Retrieved from

Educational Theatre Management: a Panacea to Business
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