Professionals in various fields of human endeavour have been urged to create a middle ground between the quest for a successful career and healthy family life as a critical ingredient in sustaining their marital relationships with their spouses.
Discussants also advocated understanding among couples as a way of reducing crises likely to arise from their spouse’s job demands especially time-related factors.
At a reading session in Abuja on Thursday organised by Arojah Royal Theatre in collaboration with Swedish Embassy, stakeholders insists that family should not be relegated to background over career, calling for a balance between both.
The reading featured a play titled “And Give Us The Shadows” , written by Lars Norén, a Swedish playwright, novelist and poet.
The play depicts the life of one Eugene O’Neil, a popular American playwright with his wife Carlotta and his two adult sons from earlier marriages.
O’Neil had a successful career as a playwright who churned out lots of productions but however had a broken home.
Carlotta, who happens to be his third wife at a point lost interest in her marital union, wishing that her husband O’Neil could die to let her break away from the marriage bond due to her inability to get enough of him coupled with his failing health.
Reacting to the play, the National President Association of Nigerian Authors, ANA, Barr. Ahmed Maiwada advised that quest for success should not subsume family life.
“The play has a lesson for middle class Nigerians. You don’t pursue success and sacrifice family life. The character, Eugene O’Neil happens to be famous as a successful writer but he has a broken home. Remember his wife, Carlotta is a much younger woman compared to him.
“The wife is young and vibrant but O’Neil is old and fragile, infact there is issue of impotency in his own part. So this play teaches us that success is good but you have to balance whatever thing you are doing with that success because at the end of the day, you may be successful but it wouldn’t matter to you anymore” he said.
The Artistic Director, National Troupe Nigerian, Ahmed M. Ahmed said the play reflects some of the challenges families pass through in the contemporary society.
While expressing sympathy to O’Neil’s wife, Carlotta in the play for losing the old good part of her husband due to the demanding nature of his career as a writer urged couples to promote a healthy relationship between their means of livelihood and their marital union.
An artiste, Isaac Israel Udochukwu who played the role of O’Neil at the reading session also advised professionals, especially artistes to pay attention to the development of their career while at the same time not neglecting their relationship with others, particularly at the family level.
“Because we are social animals, we cannot shy away from having engagements with human beings. The life of O’Neil became terrible in this very circumstance because he was seen as someone who doesn’t love his family, who doesn’t pay attention to his wife because he is focused on his work all the time.
“That is actually the life of an artiste. If you want to leave a legacy, something for which you will be remembered when you are gone, something evergreen, you must balance your relationship with your work. That way you can reach the peak of your career.
“The play as a family story educates and entertains. You will always find family challenges especially if you are the breadwinner. There is always that demand to fulfil. O’Neil was trying to pass a message that as an artiste, you are not supposed to have a family because it comes with a lot of distractions. But for me, what matters is balancing one’s family life with his or her career” he advised.
The Swedish Ambassador to Nigeria, Carl Michael Gräns while noting the difference in sizes between Nigerian and Swedish families, said there is need to factor all interests to make the family more functional.
He also called for unity and love in the multi-ethnic and religious Nigerian society, which according to him begins from a healthy home.
Author of the play, Lars Norén, also has other notable works to his credit.
They include, “The night is the mother of the day” (1982) together with its sequel “Chaos is the neighbour of God” (1983) and “Bobby Fischer lives in Pasadena” (1990). His plays are realistic and often revolve around family and personal relations.
He passed on earlier in the year at the age of 76.
Artistic Director of Arojah Royal Theatre, Om’Oba Jerry Adesewo, who also anchored the interactions after the staged reading explained that the play reading is an important programming of his theatre and That provides the opportunity to engage works before the are put on stage. “it all started to in 2010 and we have sustained it till now with the help of collaborations like this. Particularly, under our cultural partnership initiative (CPI), we have had the pleasure of important cultural partnership like this using theatre to promote understanding between Nigeria, embassies and foreign missions.”
He added that COVID-19 has not prevented this monthly sessions from holding as the had moved to Zoom.” Since the advent of pandemic we have had to go digital, hosting the reading on zoom “this particular reading is hybrid, with participants joining via zoom from Sweden, Northern Ireland, Georgia, Turkey, USA and Nigeria while 15 other ónsite guests joined the artists physically under strict observance of COVID-19 regulations”