World premiere: „Traumata – Traumatismes“ by Ousmane Aledji
In the framework of „50 Years of African Independences – A (self)critical Evaluation“ AfricAvenir invited Beninese director Ousmane Aledji together with his theatre company Agbo-N'Koko to Berlin. On October 27, 28 and 29, 2010 at 8 p.m. they will perform the World Premiere of their latest stage play „Traumata – Traumatismes“ at Haus der Kulturen der Welt. Original version with German surtitles.
“(…) sensational, irritating and breathtaking (…) Aledji creates a new form of African art-theatre.” (nachtkritik.de about Aledji's last play “Omon mi”)
“This is a theatre of urgency, a truly contemporary theatre.“ (http://www.theatre-ephemere.fr/ousmane_aledji.html)
The play: „Traumata – Traumatismes“
Is it possible to celebrate 50 years of African Independence? What has happened since? With "Traumatism" Ousmane Aledji artistically takes stock. Sarcastic, sometimes resigned, then again angry, explosive, fierce, he stages the collective memory of the "common people". What has become of the pan-african visions of Césaire, Lumumba, Nkrumah?
Inspired by Aimé Césaire's play "One season in the Congo", "Traumatism" combines theater with live video projection, dance and hip hop. This rhythmic interaction of metaphoric words serves as a medium of learning about Africa and enables the valorisation of historic knowledge. Ousmane Aledji proves once more that he does not stage any folklore. His theater is a theater of urgency, subtle and direct at the same time - a really contemporary work.
The director: Ousmane Aledji
Ousmane Aledji was born in Benin on August 12, 1970 and today is an author, poet and dramaturge. In 1993 he founded the Agbo-N'Koko theater company in Cotonou, Benin. Since 1995, Aledji is the chairman of the Association of Beninese Dramaturges and the editor of the art magazine ARTISTTIK-AFRICA. His stagings are marked by a distinctively impressive, forthright and unruly way. Aledji has already written and directed more than 18 plays and there is no denying that he is one of the most productive and exciting dramaturges of West Africa. In 1995, he has been awarded the first prize of the Francophonie for the play „Amour et sang“. For his play „L'âme où j'ai mal ou ici la vie est belle“ he received a scholarship in Limoges in 2000.
Aledji, along with his theater company, has already been to Germany at the theatre festival „Theaterlandschaften“ in Mühlheim an der Ruhr in 2008 and 2009. In 2008, his production „Omon mi“ (My child) was received with great enthusiasm. WELT online wrote about „Omon mi“ that it is one of the most important productions of West African contemporary theatre. In 2009, Aledji was able to present two premieres: „Est-ce ainsi que vivent les hommes?“ (Is that really how people live?) and „Pourissement“ (Rottenness). The former broached the 2006 toxic waste scandal in Ivory Coast. „Pourissement“ investigated the extent to which power changes people. Both productions were co-productions with the Theater an der Ruhr. In 2010, he and his theatre company will present the World Premiere of „Traumata – Traumatismes“ at Haus der Kulturen der Welt.
“It is not by coincidence that this play is called 'Traumata'. Actually, I wanted to write something that is positive and reaches towards the future. But can one be optimistic when one is enraged? Is it possible to talk about independence without reminding colonisation? Thus, is it possible to talk about colonisation without becoming angry? Is it possible to create a new future without facing one's past?“ Ousmane Aledji, Director.
Press reviews about the work of Ousmane Aledji
„Author, poet, dramaturge, he inhabits his texts, he stages a work that refines itself and becomes faster, more forceful and violent from one play to the next. Aledji is tireless and prolific in his breathtaking, rebellious and unruly career. He already wrote and produced 18 plays which also included genres like poetry, short stories and folk tales. As Yoruba Prince, Aledji is closely bound to the fate of Africa and forcefully denounces the external economic dependence which followed colonization. Anything but resigned, he flares up, he searches for and elaborates on the present. He does it with a degree of urgency which emphasises his belief in the changeability of people and nations and his conviction that writers must not remain silent. It is a theatre of urgency, a truly contemporary theatre.“ (http://www.theatre-ephemere.fr/auteurs/ousmane_aledji.html)
„Through his deliberately hybrid style, Ousmane Aledji created his very own handwriting which is characterized by the encounter of fairytales and legends, of Griot narrations and historical embodiments, of today's politics and deliriums influenced by political and cultural traditions.“ (Togoforum about Aledji's staging of „Imonlé“, FESTHEF 2002 in Lomé)
„... a play which does not lack humour, and the laughter makes the awfulness even more harrowing. This one is great theatre!“ (Editions Ndze about „Cadavre, mon bel amant“ by Aledji)
„Forceful, poetical and aesthetical. That is Imonlé, a play which is both utterly Beninese and at the same time universal. In the global village and the globalized economic order, theatre is a small source of humanity.“ (Africultures about „Imonlé)
„Aledji creates his very own aesthetic hold on history. His art lies in handling his actor's talents in a way that they can develop lots of their scenes out of their own everyday lives. Aledji combines them into a carefully composed overall concept complemented by unconventionally poetic and accurately observed images, however, without ever slipping into naturalistic performance. He rather dissolves them into little, seemingly dance-like choreographies accompanied by the precisely made recitative singing of the actors. Accordingly, Aledji staged the production in Benin's national languages, with only a few French sprinklings.“ (Kulturkurier)
„It is a very physical, dance-like, sudorific performance. Attention is given to the question of live and death, without any scenery but with stunning images, without psychologizing but with great authenticity. Although tradition is a central theme, Aledji found its own ‘theatre language’, artificial and easy to understand.“ (Die Welt)