Performing Arts: Political Heat and Afrobeats

by Editorial

A story of Nigerian political oppression meets big-band, tribal music in the Tony-Award winner FELA!
By Kate Faherty

Guests of Sandra Izsadore (Fela Kuti's wife) at the FELA! Opening Night reception, Ruth Hendel (producer), Sandra Izsadore (Fela Kuti’s wife) and Steve Hendel (producer). Photo by Kevin Allen.

Drawing from a true tale of civil rights, the story of legendary Nigerian musician Fela Kuti brings soulful beats and rhythms to the anguishing story of Nigerian government corruption and military oppression in FELA!

FELA! is on stage through October 9th at the Shakespeare Theater Company and has already received tremendous acclaim for its performance. Considered to be a heart-wrenching and extremely momentous show, the on-stage story brings a new dynamic to the widely-recognized history of Nigerian political oppression.

Fela Kuti, a native Nigerian, was fearless and headstrong in his fight against the looming political regime in Nigeria. He was arrested over 200 times and was eternally scarred from all the beatings he received for his fighting. Through his lyrical presence, Kuti was able to spread his fight against military injustices and ferocities. The revolutionary leader died in 1997, after a long and tireless fight against the harsh system under which he lived and against which he fought.

In 2004, the show was transformed into a Broadway show, attracting celebrity fans and enough attention to make the show a three-time Tony-Award winner. The Shakespeare Theater Company’s production of the show is directed and choreographed by Broadway’s famed Bill T. Jones and Produced by Shawn ‘Jay-Z’ Carter, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith.

FELA! has continued to gain popularity recently as its message and its influence has spread across an even broader domain. Fela Kuti, having produced almost 50 albums, has left an everlasting and timeless impression on his political followers and his musical followers.

For more information on the show or to purchase tickets, click here.

At the Opening Night reception, Guest of Diane Camper, Diane Camper, Pauline Schneider (STC Board of Trustees Secretary), Joan Fabry, STC Chairman Mike Klein and guests. Photo by Kevin Allen.

Jason Kampf and Tatyana Day Velasquez. Photo by Kevin Allen.

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