How much reality can we put into music without losing our minds? What happens when the global mining company GLENCORE sings its Twitter feed as a Handel aria? PR language becomes pure baroque beauty and reminds us of what words can really mean in times of Fake News. Based on Handel's Hercules, “Hercules of Lubumbashi” is an oratorio for 11 Congolese and European musicians, a dancer, and a singer.
The work’s co-creators, Congolese choreographer Dorine Mokha and Swiss composer and musician Elia Rediger, focus on the increasing demand for cobalt, its exploitation by international corporations, and the destruction of the local population’s habitat. The audience becomes the surprising witness of unsettling Congolese realities, of the particularities of Congolese humour, and of the beauty and brutality of sound. The work functions as a civil oratorio, reminding us of how connected the world is, and suggesting that art and the economy should not be dissociated. Additional music is by Joseph Kiwele, Benjamin Weidekamp, Daniel Freitag, and Kojack Kossakamvwe.
Who cares about Congo?
Artist talk following the performance
Despite millions of victims during the wars in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the European public showed little interest in the fate of the Congolese. The only ones to take an interest in the country’s politics before the fall of President Mobutu were mining companies such as Glencore, who anticipated ways of profiting from chaos. Much like Elia Rediger and Dorine Mokha’s intention with “Hercules of Lubumbashi," Swiss director Milo Rau brought attention to human rights violations by mining companies in his film The Congo Tribunal two years ago. Can artists be pioneers in raising social awareness? Or, rather, do they profit from their political commitment, which can be manipulated to promote their career? How long must artists stay involved in a cause to really make a difference? Dramaturge Eva-Maria Bertschy, “Hercules of Lubumbashi” performers, film director Milo Rau (IIPM), and Miriam Saage-Maaß from the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), will undertake a critical self-evaluation and discuss at the same time topics such as blind consumption and the exploitation of raw materials.
Concept, lyrics, composition, voice: Elia Rediger
Concept, lyrics, choreography, dance: Dorine Mokha
Concept assistance and Artistic Direction PODIUM Esslingen: Steven Walter
Co-Arrangement: Daniel Freitag, Benjamin Weidekamp
Dramaturgy: Eva-Maria Bertschy, Katia Flouest-Sell
Assistant Dramaturgy: Sarah Ströbele
Stage Design: Flurin Borg Madsen
Assistant Stage Design: Johannes Plank
Costumes: Janine Werthmann
Video: Douglas Kasamuna, Elia Rediger
Video Assistants: Joseph Kasau, Blaise Pelos, Idriss Gabel
Choir: Les Troubadours de Lubumbashi
Orchestra: Jenny Lippl (violin), Ruth Kemna (viola), Edward King (cello), Per Hakon Oftedal (trumpet), Jakob Cirkel (french horn), Kojack Kossakamvwe (e-guitar), Merveil Mukadi (e-bass), Benjamin Weidekamp (clarinet, bass clarinet), Daniel Freita (live electronics/ synthesizer), Maria Schneider (percussion), Huguette Tolinga (percussion)
Technical Director: Clemens Kowalski
Research Advisor: Lucien Kahozi Kosha
Production Director, Congo: Judith Kalanga
Project Management: PODIUM Esslingen, Pamina Dittmann
A project by PODIUM Esslingen in cooperation with Kaserne Basel, Institut francais Lubumbashi, studios kabakko, düsseldorf festival and CTM Festival.
Funded by Fonds Turn of the Federal Cultural Foundation of Germany. With support from Pro Helvetia.
Dorine Mokha is a dancer, author, and choreographer from Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo. His first solo piece, “Entre deux…," was composed in 2013 and performed at the Connexion KIN Festival in Kinshasa. In 2014, he received a scholarship at Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart and proceeded to work with the South African dancer Désiré Davids and The Nicolas Mondon Trio.
Elia Rediger, born in Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of Congo, is a widely-travelled Swiss artist, composer, playwright, and singer. He has written orchestral compositions, was part of the Konzerttheater Bern, was frontman of the pop group The Bianca Story, and took part in the Big Band-Orchesters Brigade Futur3.