April 2010: CONGO STORIES
a workshop and performance project with refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo at Notre Dame Refugee Centre and Soho Theatre London
Part of the theatre nomad’s ongoing Hidden Histories project
Seeing the visitors to Notre Dame Refugee Centre perform at the amazing Soho theatre was a truly unique experience- in Lingala! Our Congolese clients were totally uninhibited and it was obvious they really enjoyed themselves and took pride in their position on stage entertaining an audience. Upon returning to the centre, there was much talk of how it went and congratulations were shared with all who took part.
- Helen Muggeridge, Notre Dame Refugee Centre
I couldn't quite catch the name of the language the performance was in but I thought it was rich and musical and that it would be a shame to translate it into English. I think you should have all actors speak their native language and just have a few narrative-nudging sentences in English yelled out above the others. That would be all that would be needed. In the first piece (I'm not sure if this was deliberate or accidental) the speech rose to a crescendo in volume from the beginning to the end, before dipping a little. This could be orchestrated so that it rises and rises to a climax. The animated hand movements throughout were also an extremely important feature and very effective - adding a visual musicality to go with the vocal one. I thought the two pieces were alive and they held my absolute attention throughout.
- Dan Swinton, actor
Well, obviously I don't understand Lingala, but I was interested in following the dynamics on stage - especially the formation of groups, and the processes of inclusion and exclusion were very clear. Loved the musicality of the language, the dance. And was impressed by the actors - am I correct in assuming they are not professionals, but from the refugee centre? They were really good, really natural (even though that sounds like a cliché). Overall, it made me curious WHAT stories exactly they were telling!