The hyena devours its son, and the festival-goers went home satiated by the show! It was just as if we had returned to the mythical days of his glorious past: Samory had elected camp in the heart of the Blokos village, a lagoon district of Abidjan, where three bamboo stages were draped with cloths like tents under the lights and projectors. The story sprang out of the past, as did the theatre which, with its incantations and cries, for the space of one evening unexpectedly invested a downtown neighbourhood otherwise unfamiliar with the spotlights.
By dreaming up this street performance, which embraces in the audience, Patrick Janvier and Marcela Pizzaro appear to have aimed to recreate the ambiance of the mystery plays, a popular theatrical form that revolves around active audience participation. And their mise en scène deploys all the methods of a raw theatre in which the natural elements predominate: fire, earth, wood… There were no sophisticated effects, but rather an exploration of all the possibilities offered by the circular layout, the tents, and the open-air: the play of shadows in Diaoulé’s nuptial tent where only forms and voices could be made out, the small wooden icons representing the villages which were strung up between the tents, and which were burnt by a hoard of warriors who encircled the audience; the actors, dancers, and musicians who wove their way through the spectators to get from one tent to another… They well and truly played on a certain mysticism, and, in so doing, gained the quasi-religious adhesion of the audience. Indeed, the African public really worships Samory. The text by Massa Makan Diabaté may well be difficult, but the Abidjaners who came to see the play know the whole story: they commented on the action, interjected indignantly, exclaimed, and anticipated the events, just as an ancient chorus would have done.
This medieval style stage direction, and Abdoulaye Ouologuem’s art work on the costumes and the white and ochre chromatic harmonies, give an archaic density to the situations. As for the dynamic engendered by the spatial splitting of the layout, it successfully manages to break the theatrical stiffness of a play whose classic structure is a bit too bogged down in its discourse. Samory remains a man trapped in a Cornelian dilemma, torn between reason of State and his paternal love, but the artifices of the mise en scène, and Hamadoum Kassogué’s acting manage to make him the mystical God the Father figure who agrees to sacrifice his son for the good of mankind.
with Hamadoum Kassogué (Mali), Boubacar Keita (Mali), Fily Traoré (Mali), Hamadou Kansaye (Mali-France), Yaya Diarra (Mali), Modibo Doumbioa (Mali), Maimouna Doumbia (Mali), Mariétou Kouyaté (Mali), Adama Traoré (Mali), Christophe Merle (France), Abdoulaye Sarré (Mali), Karim Coulibaly (Mali).
Lighting: Mamoutou Ouattara (Mali)
Music: Abdoulaye Sarré and Karim Coulibaly
Costumes: Abdoulaye Ouologuem (Mali)
Co-production: EnsembleSauvage-Public (Canada-Quebec), Acte SEPT (Mali), and Les Voix du Caméléon (France)///Article N° : 5359