Day 8

A clip from Histoire(s) du Théâtre II

Overview of Festwochen 2020 reframed

Art is not just art, but also always power. Or the lack of it. The piece Histoire(s) du Théâtre II by Congolese choreographer Faustin Linyekula cannot be shown at the 2020 Wiener Festwochen due to the coronavirus. But that’s not all: It could not be performed at the 2019 edition either as the Congolese artists had been denied visas. There is a correlation between its performance history and its production content. Indeed, the series Histoire(s) du Théâtre initiated at the NTGent examines the production conditions, imagery policies and utopian moments of theatre as an art form. In Part II of the series, the internationally acclaimed choreographer Linyekula looks at the National Ballet of Zaire (present-day Democratic Republic of Congo) founded in 1974 by dictator Mobutu Sese Seko. On stage, three members of the ensemble who have been with the Ballet ever since it was founded explore their personal history with the institution through dance and narrative. Alongside them are two younger actors, a Belgian and a Congolese, who re-enact the historical dance and battle scenes of 1974, all the while correlating their own personal stories. Together they reflect on colonial guilt and responsibility as well as the (de-)construction of national identities and myths.

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