Genevieve Nnaji will join the cast of the audio adaptation of FELA!, Fela Ten Twenty, written and directed by filmmaker Funa Maduka, to premiere on Clubhouse, the popular drop-in audio chat platform, on Saturday, May 15 and Sunday, May 16, with shows at 2 PM ET and 6 PM ET both days. Proceeds from the show will support GEANCO, whose work provides full-tuition, healthcare, and social and psychological support to young female survivors of terrorism and gender inequality in Nigeria and across the continent.
“The contemporary issues highlighted in the script are what sold me. This is an artful retelling of Fela’s story and I’m honoured to be a part of it. I grew up on radio plays and the experience is nostalgic for me – the power of voice to influence minds and touch hearts is undeniable,” says award-winning actor, writer and director, Genevieve Nnaji.
Fela Ten Twenty, the title of the audio adaptation, will feature an exciting new interpretation of Bill T. Jones’ and Jim Lewis’ Original FELA! Script, framing the ongoing #EndSars movement in the context of Fela Kuti’s legacy. Music for the production will be recorded in Lagos, Nigeria by The Cavemen, the widely-celebrated band rekindling Nigerian highlife with their new album Roots.
“For this adaptation, I tripled speaking roles for women by bringing the voices of the Kalakuta Queens, women who fought and performed alongside Fela, to the forefront. Women have long been at the centre of political movements, especially in Africa. To have a woman of Genevieve’s calibre play a Kalakuta Queen, only elevates this legacy of leadership, fortitude and grace,” says writer, director and producer of Fela Ten Twenty, Funa Maduka.
Genevieve Nnaji is a Nigerian actress, producer, and director. She won the Africa Movie Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role in 2005. In 2011, she was honoured as a Member of the Order of the Federal Republic by the Nigerian government for her contributions to Nollywood. Her directorial debut film, Lionheart, was Nigeria’s first submission to the Oscars. Nnaji frequently uses her platform to advocate for social causes, including #ENDSARS, which the Fela Ten Twenty script adaptation centres.
Nnaji joins a talented cast of actors from Nigeria, the UK and the US, including Sir Marcell as Fela Kuti, Jumoké Fashola as Funmilayo Kuti, NC Grey as Najite- a Kalakuta Queen, Nneamaka Nwadei as Omolara- a Kalakuta Queen, Malikat Rufai as Sandra Izsadore, Uche Ogodi as J.K. Braimah, Comfort Dangana as DJ Switch, Adeola Adebari as Tunde, Muhammed Agboluaje as the Driver, LaToya Ransom as the Radio Journalist and Aliu Ajala as the Babalawo.
The production is produced by Stephen Hendel, Funa Maduka and Ọlabimpe Ọlaniyan. Kingsley Okorie and Benjamin James of The Cavemen and Philip Uzo are Music Directors; Marcellus Wesley is both Technical Director and Sound Designer; Ellen Marte is both VFX Director and Graphic Designer and Amanda Ezechi is Marketing Director.
Consulting on the production are Sahr Ngaujah, Actor, Director, Producer and Original Fela of the Broadway Show, FELA!; Robert Kaplowitz, Tony Award-Winning Sound Designer of the Broadway Show, FELA!; Abena Koomson-Davis, Educator and Original Cast Member of the Broadway Show, FELA!; and Lemi Ghariokwu, the highly acclaimed artist who designed many of Fela Kuti’s album covers.