These seven youths are full of energy and buzzing with talent, and have proven themselves, over the last two years, to be the new generation of Senegalese actors trained at the Dakar National School of Arts. They have already performed several shows, notably Sketches de Karl Valentin, created in 1997, and Molière notre contemporain, in 1998. But, with Moments privés et visions de l’avenue Ponty, which they created in Dakar and performed at the Daniel Sorano National Theatre, they are out to conquer the cultural capitals of Africa: they have performed in Ouagadougou at the sixth Festival de Théatre pour le Développement, in Grand-Bassam at the Festival des Arts de la Rue, in Bamako at the Festival des Réalités, and now in Abidjan at the 4th MASA. « Les 7 Koûss » are clearly determined to shake up African theatre.
Their work is far from the norm. They bring the urgency of a contemporary theatre which concerns the Africans, and which is a far cry from the exotic accommodating attitude that flatters the Western gaze. Their theatre is based on the daily, and on today’s Africa. They devour slices of life, those private moments which are often overlooked due to family, cultural or social taboos.
The first part of the show evokes the illusions and disenchantment of young people who are not so different from Western youths, and who share the same aspirations. We come across the pupil who is thrown out of school for having contradicted the teacher by defending the hypotheses that Samory was perhaps not as blood-thirsty as colonial history claims, a young niece exploited and martyrized by the family who put her up in the Town, the young daddy’s-boy striker who ends up at the police station where he magically loses all his revolutionary aspirations…
In the second part, we leave the private sphere for the public space of the street, with its fake beggars, con men, hawkers, vendors, smooth-talkers, know-alls, the hoity-toity, and its tourists… A spectacle which incisively, and at times even acerbicly, depicts modern-day Africa and its contradictions, and which deliberately turns its back on a nostalgic theatre too attached to traditional African values.
« Les 7 Koûss » have opted to express themselves in the most basic and most sober theatrical language, namely that which relies on the actor’s body and voice first and foremost. There are no sets, no props, no musical artifice, no dancing, no songs: they alone incarnate all the situations and share intense moments with the audience, playing on connivance and complicity to bring forth the derision and humour. The show is not without cruelty, denouncing the archaism of the condition of women and children, and also making fun of the ridiculous characters in Dakar society, and all the pitiful petty wheeling and dealing that goes on in the streets.
It takes courage and cheek… and these youngsters have both by the bagful, for, above all, they have the determination of wrestlers and the magic of performance, just like the traditional Senegalese Koûss Kondrong, those gifted conjurer-fighters: nothing up their sleeves, and nothing behind their backs!
Company: « Les 7 Koûss » with Abdoulaye Diakhaté, Abdel Kader Diarra, Moustapha Diop, Diarétou Keita, Joséphine Mboup, Ngagne Sarr, Momar Diarra Thioune.///Article N° : 5350