about the production
Samedi détente, the cult radio music programme was the symbol of freedom in Rwanda in the early 1990s. Everyone was looking forward to it, danced and sang along. And suddenly it came to an end. “Ordinary life” turned into hell.
It was only twenty years later that Dorothée Munyaneza, the French-British singer, dancer and choreographer of Rwandan origin, was able to tell the story of her family through an authentic production. It was also inspired by happy memories of childhood, but particularly by those painful ones. In order to create a counterpoint to the horrors she talks about, Munyaneza named her piece after the above programme that symbolised the joyful period.
Dorothée Munyaneza spent her childhood in Rwanda. During one of the most brutal and vast-spread genocides of the 20h century she lost her relatives and friends, and experienced a long and rough escape from her country. She uses her production – a mix of memories, authentic music, sound montage and contemporary dance – to ask whether one can talk at all about the horrors of escaping a homeland where you find yourself on the brink of death.
She recalls how it feels to have to leave one’s beloved child- hood places, experiencing having relatives being murdered, the unleashing of terror, the killing, hatred and utter cruelty of man against man in a country that used to be your home. Munyaneza’s performance is augmented by authentic sounds improvised on stage by French artist Alain Mahé and by an imaginative dance by. Amael Mavoungou
As Munyaneza puts it, Samedi détente – her directorial debut – does not follow upon any theatrical tradition, but “joins all voices that speak of that what matters and which removed us from our comfort zone.” At the same time, how- ever, she considers herself part of a movement of all African artists who work in Europe. Their perspective on art is different and enriches our own identity.
Hence it is interesting to also see Samedi détente within the context of the other production on the Rwandan genocide offered by the 2015 Nitra Theatre Festival, the Hate Radio by Milo Rau, and notable representative of documentary theatre. Rau views the issue from a different perspective than Munyaneza. Theirs are two different theatrical approaches to the same theme. Yet they both offer a powerful and frightening testimony about the brutality within man and society. Whist reflecting the recent conflict in an African country, the two productions contain a strong metaphorical meaning: they speak of the horror of any religiously, politically, racially or otherwise motivated conflict, extermination and hatred. They keep reminding us so that we do not forget. Though, as ex-post witnessed of mediated horrors, we can merely sit in silence and contemplate the reasons of the ever-growing violent clashes of any extent between different parties to the conflict, and how we are unable to accept otherness, taking it as something seemingly alien to us.
The topic of Samedi détente is by no means “African”. It concerns quite strongly us as well in Europe, the conflict in Ukraine, the recent war in Yugoslavia and the issue of the day – the immigration and our attitude to the problems faced by the “third world” and neo-colonialism.
“The voice of Dorothy is never plaintive, she said the horror with infinite tenderness, but with broken body. Footsteps amplified by a microphone channels are like the fear from the dead returned. The show moves forward through a deliberately chaotic and pluralistic organization.
What have we inherited and leave us to children? Words of pogroms, war, terrorism, market system, dad, mum, across the plateau where stand crosses of anonymous cemeteries. Someone asks the question ´amnesty or amnesia?´ And adds quickly ´Whatever you want, it is our fault.´
P. Thibaudat, Théâtre et Balagan, blogs.rue89.nouvelobs.com
conception, text, dance et voice: Dorothée Munyaneza
direction and diffusion: Emmanuel Magis, Anahi
outside point of view: Mathurin Bolze
light designer: Christian Dubet
set designer: Vincent Gadras
costume designer: Tifenn Morvan
stage manager: Marion Piry
cast: Amael Mavoungou (dance), Alain Mahé (music and improvisation), Dorothée Munyaneza
Dorothée Munyaneza (1982), singer, dancer, choreographer and screenwriter. She spent her childhood in Rwanda, studied music and social sciences at Canterbury. Now British national, she lives in France. She makes music and dance pieces the style and themes of which draw from her intense live experiences. She compares and explores the diversity of culture of her family in Rwanda with the years she spent in London and in France. Her first professional endeavor was participation on the soundtrack for the film Hotel Rwanda (2004) and, in 2005, cooperation with the AfroCelt Sound System group in the album Anatomic. In 2006 she became involved also in contemporary dance where she combines experimental music and poetry and dance. In 2013 she founded her own arts group Compagnie Kadidi, within which she also made, as choreographer, the Samedi détente.
Video of the production: yes
Script of the production: SK, EN
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