After months of renovation, the Terra Kulture Arena in Lagos, recently reopened to provide audiences with a new theatre experience.
With a seating capacity of 400,the theatre features modern lighting and sets as well as a special sound and acoustics systems to compliment shows.
The Terra Kulture Arena is currently showing “Fela and the Kalakuta queens”, a production that touches on the life of Nigerian afrobeat King, Fela Kuti and the women around him.
I think it is a good thing, I think it is a step forward for the arts especially for stage, so she is doing a great thing and I am happy to be a part of this production.
Initially built in the 2003 the educational, culture and arts centre was launched to promote diversity in different culture.
Nollywood producer, Bolanle Austen-Peters is the founder of Terra Kulture.
“I worked with the United Nations for years, came back home and I felt that there was a gap you know, that we could do a whole lot more in the arts and culture space especially working as an expatriate, you tend to go to a lot of art venues so we didn’t have a lot in Nigeria so I decided to build this,” she said.
For nearly 30 years the country’s performing arts scene has been virtually nonexistent with its national theatre hardly staging any shows.
Austen-Peters said she directed this play – Fela and the Kalakuta queens, in honour of one of the country’s great musicians.
Fela Kuti electrified Nigerians and many music lovers the world over with his hip-shaking and strangely hypnotic blend of jazz, funk and West African folk rhythms.
His legendary sexual exploits with dozens of women, marijuana smoking and fearless critiques of Nigeria’s then corrupt and oppressive military regime only served to heighten the mystique.
“I think it is a good thing, I think it is a step forward for the arts especially for stage, so she is doing a great thing and I am happy to be a part of this production,” said actor Adeniji Heavyweight, who played Fela.
“I hope theatre stage plays become much bigger in this part of the world. I know it costs probably a lot to do this kind of productions and all that, and so let’s pray for even a bigger space, much larger space so that a lot of people can also come and watch,” said audience member, Oyo Oshimole.
“Back then we had this joke in house, we will always come in and it was usually a one man stage play that we usually saw then, but I have been here a couple of times since it was rebuilt, and it always blew me away. They had this… there were lots of things to do… it was a different ball game,” said Lagos resident, Foluke Adeboye.
Performing arts is experiencing a rebirth in the country, alongside its well known Nollywood film sector produces hundreds of low budget movies every year.
Nigerian entertainment has changed a great deal since the 1950s and 60s, when theatre groups would travel between communities and villages in trucks and set up their stages.
With audiences keen to watch more home-grown stories, producers are taking advantage to embrace modern technology on the stage and in productions.
Austen-Peters says she wants to highlight the importance of the discipline in promoting talent and jobs in Nigeria.
“I think a lot more can be done in the area of philanthropy, key people who can support the arts institutions and individuals. A lot more can come on board. Government also still needs to do some more, but with the present administration, there seems to be a lot of push in the arts and culture sector and also tourism, so I guess from where we were in the past, things are getting better, so we can hope that things will even get much better,” she said.