Bolanle Austen-Peters: Taking Nigerian Culture to the Global Stage

Meet the charismatic powerhouse, taking the world by storm.

Bolanle Austen-Peters Creative Journey (2021)Terra Kulture

Bolanle Austen-Peters (2020) by BAP ProductionsOriginal Source: Terra Kulture

Bolanle Austen-Peters aka BAP

Bolanle Austen-Peters (BAP) is one of Nigeria's most prolific theatre and movie directors and producers. She has pioneered the national and international re-emergence of the Nigerian theatre industry. With a passion for the arts, BAP founded Terra Kulture in 2003 after developing an interest in the creative sector. Terra Kulture was established because there were few places in Nigeria with the appropriate ambiance, for Nigerians and foreigners alike to learn about Nigeria’s rich cultural and linguistic heritage. After years of hard work, Terra Kulture is a resounding success recognized as a major cultural hub in Nigeria for expatriates, students, Hollywood and Nollywood stars, artists and members of the diplomatic corps.

An indigene of Ekiti, born in Ibadan, Oyo State in the south-western region of Nigeria, Bolanle Austen-Peters is a lawyer by training. She began her career serving as a lawyer with the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights in Switzerland, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the United Nations Development Programme. In the year 2000, after Bolanle Austen-Peters and her husband decided to relocate home, the quintessential business-woman soon realised that she had a burning desire to create jobs and engage in activities that were passion-driven. After a little soul-searching, Terra Kulture was born.

Treasure Arrington as one of Fela's Queens (2019-12) by BAP ProductionsTerra Kulture

BAP on the future of Nigerian theatre, arts and culture

Here BAP explains what motivates her and how Nigerian arts and culture is about to take the world by storm. 

Happy People (2015) by BAP ProductionsOriginal Source: Terra Kulture

Growing up in Nigeria

How did you get into creating musicals?
“Growing up in Nigeria there was no platform to express the combination of my passion for literature, music and dance. I traveled a lot and also watched musicals on Broadway. Musical theatre was a no-brainer when I moved back to Nigeria, especially because of the nay sayers. They motivated me.”

Balogun Market (2017) by Alex NwokoloTerra Kulture

African culture has been documented

What excites you about African culture?
“African culture has been documented to communicate history from metaphorical carvings, to multidisciplinary works that appreciate history and express current social issues.”

Impressive Flips (2015) by BAP ProductionsOriginal Source: Terra Kulture

Terra Kulture is an educational and cultural hub

When and why did you open Terra Kulture?
“Terra Kulture is an educational and cultural hub established in 2003 to promote the richness and diversity of Nigerian artists and their works. In it’s 17 years of existence, we have organized and curated over 200 art exhibitions, auctions and 65 book readings. Our production company and theatre has produced over 135 plays and two films now streaming on Netflix.”

Fela's Republic & the Kalakuta Queens' on Stage in Pretoria (2019) by BAP ProductionsOriginal Source: Terra Kulture

When I tell my stories

What is important when you tell stories?
“When I tell my stories, I apply an element of history, for instance with Fela and the Kalakuta Queens. In historical tellings of Fela, the stories told about his wives were either ambiguous or lacked authenticity. This provoked me to meet the Queens and tell their stories through Fela and the Kalakuta Queens, the Musical.”

"Today na my birthday oh..." (2017-12-06) by BAP ProductionsTerra Kulture

What I love best

What is the best aspect of Terra Kulture?
“What i love best about Terra Kulture is the theatre and my phenomenal actors.”

The birth of Fela (2019-03-01) by BAP ProductionsTerra Kulture

The creative mind

What excites you about creativity?
“The creative mind is arguably the most intelligent because it creates alternative realities and perspectives.”

The Star cast of Saro the Musical (2013) by BAP ProductionsOriginal Source: Terra Kulture

In the next five years

Where do you see Terra Kulture in five years?
"In the next five years I anticipate Terra Kulture being the prime hub and haven for creative expression in visual art, literature, performance, activism, and cultural preservation. Our goal is for Nigeria and the world to recognize and reward African creatives for their indispensable dedication to history."

Terra Kulture Arena (2018) by BAP ProductionsOriginal Source: Terra Kulture

We were able to build

“We were able to build four theatres with Lagos state. Within the next year we have several initiatives planned for Terra Kulture. We intend to represent emerging artists in our eponymous gallery, accommodate writers in our bookstore library, and virtualise our restaurant lounge. BAP Productions has also partnered with Terra Kulture to introduce the Terra Academy for Arts, exploring all facets of theatre production.”

Cast and Crew at the Shaw Theatre for Wakaa (2016) by BAP ProductionsOriginal Source: Terra Kulture

What keeps me going

What keeps you motivated?
“What keeps me going is my desire to create this experimental space for young creatives.”

A Love Song (2015) by BAP ProductionsOriginal Source: Terra Kulture

The most important thing for me

What is the most important thing in life for you?
“The most important thing for me is peace. Experiencing the different people at Terra Kulture and introducing new productions to my cast and crew is just as gratifying.”

The Kalakuta queens praising Abami Eda, Fela (2019-03-01) by BAP ProductionsTerra Kulture

Last christmas

What is next for the African continent?
“Last Christmas, four out of five musicals showing in Lagos were from thespians that came out of Terra Kulture. The future is bright for the African continent. People need original African stories and we are here to fulfil their need. Musicals are here to stay. Nigerian culture is here to stay. We are just getting started.”

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