concept and direction Serge Kakudji and Paul Kerstens
a project by Serge Kakudji (counter tenor) and orchestra: Rodriguez Vangama (electric guitar), Costa Pinto (accoustic guitar), Angou Ingutu (bass guitar), Bouton Kalanda (likembe), Erick Ngoya (likem-be), Silva Makengo (likembe), Tister Ikomo (xylophone), Deb’s Bukaka (balaphone), Cédrick Buya (percussion), Jean-Marie Matoko (percussion), 36 Seke (percussion), Russell Tshiebua (backing vocals), Bule Mpanya (backing vocals)
musical direction Fabrizio Cassol and Rodriguez Vangama
artistic direction Alain Platel
conductor Rodriguez Vangama
assistance artistic direction Romain Guion
scenography Freddy Tsimba
light design Carlo Bourguignon
sound designMax Stuurman
costume design Dorine Demuynck
light technician Luc Laroy
stage manager Lieven Symaeys
KVS & les ballets C de la B
coproduction Théâtre national de Chaillot (Paris), Holland Festival (Amsterdam), Festival d’Avignon, Theater im Pfalzbau (Ludwigshafen), TorinoDanza, Opéra de Lille, Wiener Festwochen
many thanks to Isnelle da Silveira, Dominique Mesa, Kathryn Brahy, Michel Lastshenko, BogdanVanden Berghe, 11.11.11, Françoise Gardies, Faustin Linyekula, Anja Stroobants, Bernard Debroux
photography Chris Van der Burght
production management Eline Vanfleteren, Paul Kerstens
tour management Hanna El Fakir and Paul Kerstens
diffusion Frans Brood Productions
supported by City of Brussels, City of Ghent, Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest,Vlaamse Gemeenschapscommissie, Province of East-Flanders, the Flemish Authorities
Running time 1h 45’
In Coup Fatal the counter-tenor Serge Kakudji, together with an orchestra of 13 musicians from Kinshasa, is engaged with the repertoire of various baroque composers. The original music is enriched with the diversity of the musicians. Around the vocal parts of Serge Kakudji, a whole new contemporary universe is created, both in music and image. This new music integrates in a natural and exuberant way the baroque phrases with traditional and popular Congolese music, rock and jazz. The Brussels composer Fabrizio Cassol and guitar player Rodriguez Vangama are the musical directors, while director Alain Platel and dancer Romain Guion (C(H)OEURS etc.) search for a theatrical form together with the team. The set is designed in collaboration with the artist Freddy Tsimba. In Kinshasa he creates huge, disturbing sculptures of cartridge cases which he collects in Congolese war zones. Coup Fatal is inspired by the grand gestures of the perky ‘sapeurs’, the dandies of Kinshasa. No need to be ironical, the exuberance doesn’t have to be reduced. Against a background of car-tridge cases, movements have to be loud and big, the rawness provoking. Rather than a tribute to baroque music, Coup Fatal is a tribute to the unrelenting elegance of the Congolese.
Genesis of the project In July 2009 KVS organized a first arts festival in Kinshasa, centered around the final performances of Pitié!, the show in which the director Alain Platel and the composer Fabrizio Cassol worked together with the countertenor Serge Kakudji. After a long journey, the production at last came ‘home´ to Serge Kakudji’s native country. At the second edition of the festival (in the meantime baptised ‘Connexion Kin’) in 2010 KVS wished to program a recital of Serge Kakudji and therefore sought appropriate accompaniment. Paul Kerstens – coordinator of the Africa Project of KVS, who had worked in 2009 on the recording of Baloji’s Kinshasa Succursale – knew many creative and inventive musicians in Kinshasa: some focused on popular dance music and others played jazz and traditional music. He brought ten of them together and invited them to listen to the arias chosen by Serge. They were then asked a simple question: “Does this music say something to you, and are you interested in working with it?” They all responded with an enthusiastic “yes!” Each musician received a discman with the arias, and they then began to rehearse amongst themselves, without any interference from outside. Guitarist Rodriguez Vangama quickly be-came the musical leader of the project. Serge Kakudji arrived two weeks later, and they all worked together for another week. The result, a presentation held on 18 July 2010, was an overwhelming success. The group continued to work together in 2011 and 2012. The basis remained the same, but sev-eral changes were made to the line-up, likembes (thumb pianos) were added, and several times they worked with the slammer Alesh from Kisangani, who composed new recitatives. Fabrizio Cassol became involved as musical advisor. The group of Coup Fatal developed into a tight-knit orchestra. The project evolved over these years, and the different performances received more and more of a scenic character. A new, important step imposed itself: the project had everything necessary to grow into a full-fledged show. Alain Platel became aware of the project through the involve-ment of Fabrizio Cassol and the enthusiastic stories he heard from dramaturge Hildegard De Vuyst, and he immediately agreed to get involved in it. KVS and les ballets C de la B assumed responsibility for the production, and the creation of Coup Fatal could begin.
Alain Platel is trained as a remedial educationalist, and is an autodidact director. In 1984 he set up a small group with a number of friends and relatives to work collectively. Emma (1988) signalled his concentration on directing. He was responsible for Bonjour Madame (1993), La Tristeza Complice (1995) and Iets op Bach (1998), with which les ballets C de la B (as the group was now called) rocketed to the international top. In the meantime his collaboration with Arne Sierens had a similar effect on the Ghent youth theatre company Victoria, with the three plays Moeder en Kind (1995), Bernadetje (1996) and Allemaal Indiaan (1999). After Allemaal Indiaan he announced that he was stopping making productions. But shortly afterwards Gerard Mortier persuaded him to do Wolf (2003) based on Mozart for the Ruhrtriennale. The choir project for the opening of the new KVS marked the start of close collaboration with the composer Fabrizio Cassol. vsprs (2006) proved to be a turning point in his career. So far his work had been exuberant in both the diversity of performers and the themes, but now it became more profound and intense and revealed a world of passion and desire. And violence, as in Nine Finger (2007) with Benjamin Verdonck and Fumiyo Ikeda. After the baroque pitié! (2008), Out Of Context (January 2010) is an almost ascetic reflection of the movement repertoire of spasms and tics. The yearning for something transcending the individual is becoming more and more palpable. In 2010 he worked together with Frank Van Laecke, they directed Gardenia, a performance about and with older travestites and transsexual artists. He also almost surreptitiously entered the arena of the dance film together with the British director Sophie Fiennes (Because I Sing in 2001, Ramallah!Ramallah!Ramallah! in 2005 and VSPRS Show and Tell in 2007) and solo with de balletten en ci en là (2006), an impressive view of what goes on in a twenty-year-old dance company, taking us all the way to Vietnam and Burkina Faso, but also and mainly being an ode to his home town Ghent.