Trafó Theatre Hall
/ truth(lessness), absurdity, totalitarianism
WILLIAM KENTRIDGE / HANDSPRING PUPPET COMPANY (ZA): Ubu and the Truth Commission
In English with Hungarian subtitles
puppet theatre for adults (14+)
Please note this performance contains graphic images of violence that may not be suitable for children.
on 19 November after the performance with the artists, moderated by László Upor dramaturg. Everybody is welcome!
The worldwide known South African director and visual artist, William Kentridge, returns to Trafó with his masterpiece : Ubu and the Truth Commission is the revival of the historic 1997 production created in association with the internationally celebrated Handspring Puppet Company. This spectacle of unrivalled skill and peerless aesthetics is simultaneously a political act of memory and reflection.
With its dark and sardonic wit, documentary footage, spectacular animation, poignant puppetry and superb actors, Ubu and the Truth Commission draws on both the historical archive of the hearings of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission and on the dramatic figure of Ubu Roi, a licentious buffoon created by the playwright Alfred Jarry.
The work that sowed the seed for Dada, surrealism and the Theatre of the Absurd, is the starting point. It's just that here, the greedy 19th-century anti-hero is beamed down into the South Africa of the 1990s in the form of a fallen oppressor. Guilty of terrible crimes during the Apartheid period, this South African Ubu finds himself facing justice—in this case, the questions of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee formed by Nelson Mandela. And as Ubu waits, hoping for an amnesty, he ploughs the field like a court jester, singing and dancing in the shadow of his wife, a possessive Big Mama Africa, accompanied by a retinue of marionettes, emblems of his autarchic nature: the mythic three-headed Cerberus, guardian of Hades, and a crocodile who devours any documentary evidence that must not see the light of day.
In this production Ubu is a policeman for whom torture, murder, sex and food are all variations of a single gross appetite. Actors, puppets and puppeteers, projections of archive footage, recordings of eye-witness accounts and, of course, Kentridge's own uniquely 'primitive' animation share the stage in this imaginative, humanistic happening: a total work of art which tackles Apartheid and racism, collective trauma, historical memory and reconciliation.
Kentridge is a remarkably versatile South African artist whose work combines the political with the poetic. Dealing with subjects as sobering as apartheid, colonialism, and totalitarianism, his work is often imbued with dreamy, lyrical undertones or comedic bits of self-deprecation that render his powerful messages both alluring and ambivalent. Best known for animated films based on charcoal drawings, he also works in a number of other mediums.
Director: William KENTRIDGE
Associate director: Janni YOUNGE
Writer: Jane TAYLOR
Puppet designer: Adrian KOHLER
Animation: William Kentridge
Set Design: Adrian Kohler, William Kentridge
Costume Design: Adrian Kohler
Lighting designer: Wesley FRANCE
Sound Design: Wilbert Schubel
Music: Warrick Sony and Brendan Jury
Choreography: Robyn Orlin
Pa Ubu: Dawid MINNAAR
Ma Ubu: Busi ZOKUFA
Puppeteers: Gabriel MARCHAND, Mandiseli MASETI, Mongi MTHOMBENI
Production: Handspring Puppet Company
Associate producer: Quaternaire
Co-producers: Edinburgh International Festival (UK), The Taipei Arts Festival and Taipei Culture Foundation (Taiwan), Festival de Marseille _ danse et arts multiples (France), Onassis Cultural Centre (Greece), Cal Performances Berkeley (USA), BOZAR Brussels (Belgium). Supported by National Arts Festival, South Africa.