iREP grand honour for creative Amazon, Bolanle Austen-Peters
The applause that greeted the award of honour presented by organisers of the prestigious iREP International Documentary Film Festival continued even after the unrelenting creative trailblazer took her seat after the brief award ceremony. Heads nodded in agreement when the Lagos State Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Steve Ayorinde, described Bolanle Austen-Peters as a true amazon of arts promotion in Nigeria.
The quality audience that the opening ceremony of the nine-year- old festival attracted also nodded in agreement and applauded when the Founder and Chief Executive of Terra Kulture was hailed as a frontline promoter of the arts and culture in Nigeria. But it was to recognise Bolanle, or BAP, as the culture promoter and later day play and movie director is called for short, as a relentless culture producer that the iREP rolled out the red carpet for the culture amazon, who turned 50 this year.
Executive Director of iREP, Femi Odugbemi, had explained in his opening remarks that BAP was honoured for being a major inspiration to many young people, and essentially because “she represents the spirit of progress and possibilities in Nigeria’s culture producing community.”
Odugbemi noted that BAP was the first supporter the festival had at inception, recalling how she offered iREP free use of the Terra Kulture facilities for the maiden and the second editions. “Bolanle gave us her Terra Kulture facilities free of charge and even donated lunch to some of our guest. She repeated the feat on the second edition before the festival relocated to Freedom Park.
“That is an uncommon gesture of philanthropy, especially in our clime,” he enthused. Daughter of legendary legal titan and educationist, Chief Afe Babalola (SAN), and a passionate art-lover, BAP holds a Master’s degree in International Law from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a Law degree from the University of Lagos. Her Terra Kulture is an educational and recreational organisation set up in 2003 to promote the richness and diversity of Nigerian languages, arts and culture.
Undoubtedly one of the very significant women working in the arts today, BAP is one of the producers of the acclaimed feature on the Ebola question, titled 93 Days. With 93 Days, directed by Steve Gukas and starring Hollywood actor, Danny Glover, and some notable Nollywood actors, including Keppy Ekpeyong, Bimbo Akintola and Bimbo Manuel, BAP, who is Founder of the wave-making Bolanle Austen Peters Production and Proprietress of the 400-seater, state-of-the-art theatre, dubbed ‘Terra Kulture Arena,’ announced her foray into filmmaking. And her entrance was grand.
Not only did she co-sign a big budget movie as executive producer, she and her co-producers (Michelangelo productions and Native Filmworks) have not stopped receiving commendation for the effort to tell the important story of how Nigeria successful battled the deadly Ebola Virus Disease.
A culture producer who has played an important role in the revitalisation of Nigerian theatre arts and creative sector through a combination of entrepreneurial and artistic vision, BAP is Producer and Director of the Broadway-styled musicals, Saro The Musical, Waka The Musical and Fela and The Kalakuta Queen, all of which were highly regarded and sold out at home and abroad.
In fact, Fela and The Kalakuta Queens is billed to tour South Africa between March 27 and April 7, this year. The musical, which presented chronicles of the complicated life and times of the late legendary Afrobeat musician, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, played to a full house during its near three months run at Terra Kulture Arena.
BAP described the tour to South Africa as a validation that Nigerian theatre and musicals have come to stay, adding: “In line with the federal government’s desire to export non-oil products, theatre has emerged as one sector living up to that expectation. “With over 60 people being taken to South Africa, this is a new dawn and I believe the production will be well received, because Fela is a legend and an iconic figure known worldwide.”
A passionate creative spirit, BAP recently signed an urban telling Bling Lagosians as director, and only recently wrapped up the debut run of Moremi, The Musical. Like her other musicals, Moremi The Musical, which is a collaboration between her BAP productions and House of Oduduwa and Rejuvenee, received numerous accolades and reviews.
Bolanle described the production as one of her most challenging, especially in terms of selecting the cast, noting: “Selecting the cast to feature in the musical was quite delicate. Fitting each character thoroughly was an ordeal, as this isn’t fiction, but the life story of a queen warrior.”
In accepting the award, BAP thanked iREP for the recognition, promising not to relent in her support for the promotion and preservation of the rich arts and cultural heritage of Nigeria. She said: “I thank iREP for the recognition. This will motivate the wonderful team at Terra Kulture to continue doing what we are doing with greater impact.“We will also do our best to present only quality productions.”
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