South African State Theatre premieres Fela And The Kalakuta Queens on YouTube
According to the theatre company, as part of its objective of being a Pan African outfit, it will be staging the musical chronicling the life and times of the late legendary musician, Fela Anikulapo Kuti on their YouTube channel.
This is the first time a theatre company of a foreign country is running a Nigerian theatre company’s play on its online platform and monetising it.
The South African State Theatre is an agency of the South African Department of Arts and Culture.
The State Theatre, which is in Pretoria, South Africa is the largest theatre complex in Africa. It was known as the Pretoria State Theatre until 1999.
Produced and Directed by Bolanle Austen-Peters, the musical explores the lives of Fela’s 27 queens, who were an integral part of his band. The musical chronicles Fela’s life as a musician, government critic, and his relationship with his numerous wives, whom he referred to as ‘queens’.
The musical differs from other accounts of the late legend’s life by focusing extensively on the 27 women he got married to on the same day in 1978.
It also gives a unique insight into the Kalakuta Republic — showcasing the unique fashion, dance, and African identity of the women and unmasking common misconceptions about them.
Last year, the musical, which is the first Nigerian production to play in South Africa, ran from March 27 to April 7.
The show is coming on the heels of the successes recorded in Lagos, Abuja, Cairo, and Pretoria last year when it premiered in those cities.
According to Austen-Peters, Director, Fela, and the Kalakuta Queens, “in these unusual times, our products have transited to the new norm, showing us that theatre and excellence have no boundaries. The partnership is a first of its kind where Nigeria and South African jointly present a Nigerian product for international consumption. It is also commendable that as theatre struggles in this COVID season, we are able to monetise theatrical content online. We look forward to future partnerships.”
Joseph Umoibom, the producer of the show, also said, “intra African collaborations and partnerships are vital to economic, social and political growth and progress. It is therefore a heartwarming development that The South African State Theatre is partnering with Bolanle Austen-Peters Productions (BAP) to screen and monetise Fela and the Kalakuta Queen.”
He said, “it is important that Africans unite to promote our cultural heritage and our stories. We share a common history and our cultures are similar. We are indeed one person. If we don’t tell our stories, nobody will tell it for us. This partnership with the South African State Theatre as novel as it may be, opens the door for more collaborations, greater unity, and stronger bond across Africa. It is in line with BAP’s desire to blaze the trail in the business of theatre productions in Nigeria.”
Born October 15, 1938, Fela died on August 2, 1997. He died at 58 years, 74 days short of his 59th birthday. He was an outspoken critic of several military regimes in Nigeria and was often arrested for his troubles. He was a multi-instrumentalist, musician, composer, pioneer of the Afrobeat music genre, and Pan-Africanist. At the height of his popularity, he was referred to as one of Africa’s most “challenging and charismatic music performers.”
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