To see a perfect example of how simplicity will always trump spectacle, do yourself a favor and go watch Faustin Linyekula’s Le Cargo. The piece is honest, at times breath taking, and completely void of unnecessary bells and whistles.
There is no set, save a handful of floor lights placed to scatter shadows against the theater walls. There are no projections, or tricks with video. The piece is bare-bones performance at its best, and you might be surprised how easily Linyekula holds your attention through the 60-minute duration.
Le Cargo is essentially a performance recalling Linyekula’s first memories of art and ritual. He tells us early on in the piece that he is trying to “learn how to dance again”, which for him, means revisiting his childhood village Obilo, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo where his first memories of dance are. But more so than that, I got the impression that in order to “learn how to dance again” Linyekyla felt as though he needed to make this a shared experience. In many ways, the show feels less about him and his personal history, and more about what it is to explore origin and ritual in a broad sense of the terms.
There is indeed a clear sense that gradually comes out in the piece that the audience is just as important to the success of it as Linyekula is. Which is something I found to be incredibly refreshing considering how often it seems in contemporary performance that the audience comes second to the art being displayed. I would even go as far to say that
Linyekula attempts in Le Cargo to bring the audience into his ritual, that as he moves, narrates, sings, and even jokes, that you, as a sounding board, are helping to further his work to “learn how to dance again”. It is a cyclical aspect to the show that isn’t fully revealed until close to the end (no spoilers!) and one that exhibits that, on top of being a captivating mover, Linyekula is also a talented writer.
I could probably go on and on about this piece. It is easily in my top three things I’ve seen at the festival this year. Linyekula is charming, magnetic, modest, and talented. His piece is beautiful, thrilling, moving, and good. You should go see it. It plays for two more nights at The Winningstad.