Productions from Benin and Argentina – a fascinating way to think outside the box

Two international guest performances complemented the festival programme Theatherwelten on two evenings. On Friday the artists of the “Arts Vagabonds” network presented “Maia”, a theatrical production of three chapters. It started as a narrative play in French which reports of a fight among the human senses. Next was a musical tale about encounters, parting, and reuniting which was solely told by dance of two chairs. Eventually, the audience was listening to the African fairy tale “Maia”, who had been born physically deformed and excluded from the village community. Being raised by a lioness, “Maia” later found a dear friend, who spread his wings and flew away in the end. In the background, there was a brief translation for those who were not able to understand French. It was the onomatopoeic words, the intense mimic art and gestures of actor Fidèle Anato and the accompaniment by pianist Espérance Gbaguidi that mesmerized the audience. That night, “Maia” was not just part of Theaterwelten, but also the opening of the Beninese Cultural Week, which started in Rudolstadt, Dresden and Berlin under the motto “Let’s jointly celebrate the cultural diversity of Benin in Germany”.
On Saturday night two performance artists from Argentina presented “DÉJÀ VU”. Again, this production was full of their local language. Yet, there were different ways to follow the story. The scenes were accompanied by selected Argentine music that effectively accentuated the atmosphere. The audience was taken on a raft, which was used by the actresses to escape the war zone with both hopes and fears. On board, and with visually stunning yet humorous pictures, the two protagonists demonstrated what interpersonal and technical difficulties to expect on the high seas. Dreaming was essential in order to survive, to not fall into despair, to go on. And even though the theme was tough and complex no compassion was triggered for the protagonists. The audience was thrilled, but also amused.
Both performances illustrated that language is not the only and most important communication tool, that language needn’t be a barrier that theatre offers amazing and unusual ways to tell stories and that emotions are similar all over the world.
Imke Bachmann

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