Fela In Mzansi
The State Theatre is proud to announce that the critically acclaimed Nigerian musical play, Fela and The Kalakuta Queens, will grace its stage in March and April this year.
In line with the theatre’s Pan African outlook, the musical presented chronicles the complicated life and times of the late legendary musician, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, also known as Fela Kuti, or simply Fela. From birth to life as a defiant and uncompromising social activist, a flamboyant musical maestro and his historic marriage to his 27 wives (known as the Queens), the story of Fela and his Kalakuta Queens is a compelling one, while at the same time deeply moving and emotionally engaging. It travels through the honest and selfless love the icon had with his dancers (Queens) who left their homes to follow him, believing in his vision of building a better community through arts and music.
The musical also explores the lives of these women who constituted an integral part of his band and gives a unique insight into the negotiation of gender and power relations at the Kalakuta Republic, while also showcasing their unique fashion, dance and African identity, and unmasking common misconceptions about them. Following a successful premiere in their home country capital, Lagos in 2017, Fela and The Kalakuta Queens Musical has without a doubt become a sensation across the globe.
Award-winning Writer and Director of the musical, Bolanle Austen Peters works with prolific choreographers, Paolo Sisiano and Justin Ezirim, and revered composer, Kehinde Oretimehin on the production. The character of Fela is projected by both Laitan “Heavywind” Adeniji and Patrick Diabuah who lead the thirty-six members cast, backed by a fifteen-piece band in the ensemble.
“Nigerians form a strong community in promoting Nigerian and African culture in notable cities around the globe. We believe that a historic and cultural production like Fela and the Kalakuta Queens will be received well in South Africa - considering Fela’s iconic status and the increasing interest in afrobeat internationally,” said Peters.
Artistic Director of the State Theatre, Aubrey Sekhabi comments; “We have a thriving community representing the diaspora in Pretoria and believe that this will bring them out for theatrical entertainment. While entertaining and spectacular, the story of Fela Kuti and the Kalakuta Queens is a timeless critique of post-independence Africa, with strong commentary about greed, corruption, abuse of power, underdevelopment and African leaders’ relationships with their former colonial masters. The message in the music was as relevant during Fela’s time as it is today.”
Fela and the Kalakuta Queens will be on stage from 27th March until 7th April 2019. Tickets can be purchased from R150-R350 at Webtickets (online at webtickets or at Pick n Pay stores nationwide). The show has a 13 years age restriction. Webtickets is State Theatre newly contracted service provider for ticket sales.
Bolanle Austen Peters (Director) is a 49-year-old writer and director who changed paths from law to an arts entrepreneur whose contributions to the Nigerian theatre industry is immense. Since her return to Nigeria in the early 2000s, she has established different businesses, including Terra Kulture, a combination of museum, art gallery and restaurant all rolled into one, and the Bolanle Austen-Peters Productions (BAP) which produced SARO the Musical, a project that went on to garner international media frenzy from outlets like the BBC and Sky News. Following the success of SARO the Musical, Bolanle’s BAP also produced WAKAA! The Musical which turned out to be even more successful than the first. It became the first Nigerian musical ever to be staged at London’s famous West End and the Shaw Theatre where it sold out tickets.
Kehinde Oretimehin (Music Composer) is an astute musician with intrinsic flair for music; songwriting, arranging and teaching. He was a lecturer at the MUSON Diploma School of Music and has been involved in numerous stage plays and musical in Nigeria. His compositions and arrangements are used for examinations, auditions, recitals, concerts all over the world.
Justin Ezirim (Choreographer) is a professional dancer and choreographer with over 15 years’ experience in the dance industry. Choreographed works include SARO, Hearword, Love and recession, wakaa, Ajigbe, Udide, The Era, Echoes, Fela and the kalakuta queens, Moremi The Musical.
Paolo Sisiano (Choreographer) is a theatre performer that has worked in theatre since 2008. He also featured in several productions including Wakaa The Musical, Saro The Musical, Moremi The Musical.
Olaitan "Heavywind" Adeniji (Plays Fela) is a Multi-Instrumentalist who became one of the pioneers Fela's Afrobeat Movement in New York in the early 2000s with performances at the Medgar Evers Jazz Festival, the Dubois Jazz Festival, Celebration of Jazz NY, Palmcourt NY, the Makeda New Jersey and the Sheba in Miami to mention a few
Patrick Diabuah (plays Fela) has featured in theatre productions like Kakadu the musical, Saro the musical, Wakaa the musical, London Life Lagos Living, The Trials of Brother Jero, Fractures, Band Aid and many more. His Tv/film credits are Banana Island Ghost, 93 Days, Zone 222, B4 30, His Mother's Son, Binding Duty.