BusinessDay

BAP Production flies Nigerian flag as Fela and the Kalakuta Queens screens in South African cinemas

For those who did not meet Fela Anikulapo Kuti while he lived, there is no better platform to understand and appreciate the life and times of the legendary Afrobeat maestro than to see enthralling stage plays in his lifetime.

While many theatre companies in Nigeria have worked hard to curate word-class plays in Fela’s lifetime, Bolanle Austen-Peters (BAP Production), still beats the record with many plays on the late African music legend who used music as a tool for activism, entertainment and promotion of culture.

One of such star-studded stage performances is Fela and the Kalakuta Queens, an epic story that enables the audience to follow the man Fela, his character, the myth, the legend and the unapologetic activist.

But most importantly, the play delves into the lives of the women that made Fela thick, and further exposing the fact that Fela had troubles in his days, but his queens were the shock absorbers and reason he continued delivering good music and activism at the same time.

Created and directed by Bolanle Austen-Peters and supported by the Estate of Fela AnikulapoKuti, the play has had successful outings in Cairo Egypt, Pretoria South Africa, Lagos and Abuja.

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Now, Fela and the Kalakuta Queens has been converted to screen, the first time a Nigerian stage play has been elevated that much and for South Africa’s movie audience.

So, from September to October 2021, the stage play, which was recorded cinematically, will be screened as film in cinemas across South Africa. The screening is a collaboration of BAP Productions, Terra Kulture Arts and Studios in partnership with the South African State Theatre (SAST) and Ster-Kinekor, the leading South African cinema chain.

Speaking on the development, Bolanle Austen-Peters, noted that it was quite exciting to receive the news of partnership from Aubrey Sekabi, the artistic director of the South African State Theatre. “It is indeed exciting times in the African theatre industry and BAP Production is proudly flying the Nigerian flag internationally. It is the first time a Nigerian stage play has been converted to screen, after successful outings in Cairo Egypt, Pretoria South Africa, Lagos and Abuja”, she said.

Explaining the partnership with Ster-Kinekor, she noted that the South African-based cinema company is the country’s largest movie exhibitor; representing 60-65 percent of the market, having 55 cinema complexes consisting of 400 screens and 64,000 seats; 154 of those screens being 3D cinemas.

BAP Production is also expecting a huge turn across cinemas for the screening, considering that it had people coming all the way from neighbouring Southern African states to see the play when it was staged in Pretoria in 2019.

“We had a massive crowd at the theatre for the two weeks we performed there. We expect it to also be well received in the cinemas this time”, BAP Production enthused.

It would be recalled that in 2019, BAP Production was invited by the South African State Theatre to perform at their theatre in 2019. Afterwards, the show was recorded cinematically and now, Ster-Kinekor has offered to screen the recorded play as a film in its cinemas across South Africa.

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