THE HEAD & THE LOAD

The renowned artist William Kentridge from South Africa, synthesizes elements of his practice to conjure his grandest and most ambitious production to date, commissioned by the Armory. Kentridge works alongside long-time collaborator,Philip Miller—one of South Africa’s leading composers—whose powerful and evocative compositions offer a perfect complement to Kentridge’s feverishly imaginative work.

A play on the Ghanaian proverb, “the head and the load are the troubles of the neck,” the large-scale work expressively speaks to the nearly two million African porters and carriers used by the British, French, and Germans who bore the brunt of the casualties during the First World War in Africa and the historical significance of this story as yet left largely untold. This processional musical journey—as much an installation as a performance piece—melds performances by orchestra collective The Knights, and an international ensemble cast of singers, dancers, and performers accompanied by a chorus of mechanized gramophones alongside multiple film projections and shadow play to create a landscape of immense proportion and imagination that utilizes the vast sweep of the Wade Thompson Drill to upend standard notions of scale.

North American Premiere

Commissioned by Park Avenue Armory and 14—18 NOW, the UK’s arts program for the First World War Centenary, Ruhrtriennale With additional commissioning funds provided by the Holland Festival and with the kind assistance of Marian Goodman Gallery, Goodman Gallery and Lia Rumma Gallery. Developed at MASS MoCA, North Adams, 2018.

CREATIVE TEAM

Concept and Director William Kentridge
Composer Philip Miller
Co-composer / Music Director Thuthuka Sibisi
Projection Design Catherine Meyburgh
Choreography Gregory Maqoma
Costume Design Greta Goiris
Set Design Sabine Theunissen
Lighting Design Urs Schönebaum
Sound Design Mark Grey
Video Editing and Compositing Janus Fouché / Žana Marović / Catherine Meyburgh
Associate Director Luc De Wit
Studio Technical Director Chris Waldo de Wet
Video Orchestrator Kim Gunning
Cinematography Duško Marović
Orchestration Michael Atkinson/Philip Miller

CREATED AND PERFORMED BY

ACTORS: Mncedisi Shabangu, Hamilton Dlamini, Nhlanhla Mahlangu, Luc De Wit

FEATURED VOCALISTS & PERFORMERS: Joanna Dudley, Nhlanhla Mahlangu, Ann Masina, Bham Ntabeni, Sipho Seroto, N`Faly Kouyate (kora), Mario Gotoh (viola, The Knights), Tlale Makhene(percussion) and Vincenzo Pasquariello (piano)

DANCERS: Gregory Maqoma, Julia Zenzie Burnham, Thulani Chauke, Xolani Dlamini, Nhlanhla Mahlangu

ENSEMBLE VOCALISTS: Mhlaba Buthelezi, Ayanda Eleki, Grace Magubane, Ncokwane Lydia Manyama, Tshegofatso Moeng, Mapule Moloi, Lindokuhle Thabede, Motho Oa Batho

With chamber orchestra   THE KNIGHTS

 

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