93 Days was a landmark film for Nollywood. The tragedy of its tepid commercial (we’ll chalk this up to poor marketing) and critical response (seriously, where are the awards?) is something we will not tire of mentioning. Credit to all parties involved. From the actors, veterans confirming their statuses (Bimbo Akintola, a living legend if Nigeria has any) and newbies staking their claim with formidable fervour (look at Somkele Idhalama in possibly the most powerfully starmaking turn we’ve seen in recent times) to the crew and the producers, one of whom happens to be Bolanle Austen-Peters.
Her involvement with 93 Days isn’t her only foray into film, as she also Executive Produced a short film, No Good Turn, by Udoka Oyeka, exploring the realities of Nigerians living with Boko Haram insurgency. But, as many likely know, she’d had a long journey with the arts before any of this happened.
Whatever it is that possessed Ms. Austen-Peters all those years ago, to open Terra Kulture, we can only be grateful for. At a time when few people thought art little more than an annoyance or a distraction, she embraced it fully, providing a home for weekly live theatre performances, eventually becoming an integral part of the theatre revolution in Nigeria. In fact, she’d already been influencing Nigerian film culture long before her production endeavours, as Terra Kulture served as a training ground for several talents who would go on to conquer the film industry.
This past weekend saw the launch of the Terra Kulture Arena, a 400-seater theatre located at Terra Kulture in Victoria Island, Lagos. First of all, she stands out as the first female to build a privately-owned theatre (set to host not only plays but movies as well) in Lagos. Given the fact that Lagos isn’t exactly teeming with theatre venues, this is a pretty big deal. It’s also incredible to see her yet again putting her money (and time and energy and heart) where her mouth is, and continuing to invest in a field she’s given her all to over the years. To be honest, everyone should have seen this coming miles away. Given the runaway success of her Saro The Musical (reincarnated first as Saro 2 and now as Wakaa The Musical,) it was inevitable she would see first hand the need for more of such spaces.
To say this is set to revolutionize Nigerian entertainment might seem hyperbolic right now, but consider the fact that Terra Kulture is set to serve as consultants to the Lagos State Government on more theatres to be built in the state in the coming years. Given the fact that this is happening just as The Wedding Party has smashed every smashable Nollywood record and created new ones we didn’t even think possible yet, and Lagos State is set to play host to the Africa Movie Academy Awards, it’s starting to look like 2017 might be a truly landmark year for Nigerian entertainment and culture.
We can’t wait.