Que ta volonté soit Kin (Thy Will Be Kin)

Reviewer's Rating

The first striking thing about coming to see a Congolese play directed by a Burkinabe artist and starring actors from all over Africa, at the Odeon Theatre, is to realise that the public is not varied at all : only middle aged people in suits or theatre students, and all of them white (me included). That tells a lot about the need for diversity in ‘mainstream’ theatre in France these days, and the greatness of Thy Will Be Kin only proves my point.

The play, initially made for being represented outdoors, strikes with its ability to depict a place, an atmosphere. Because, as the title indicates, the main character is probably Kinshasa, Congo’s capital city. What’s special about the play is that its characters could be anyone, if you pay attention to people on the street. But the way the street is told is also particular in this play: a character tells the stories of Kinshasa’s streets like someone who reads tales. 

The storyteller – or the nosey neighbour – of the play is Lily, brilliantly embodied by Ami Akofa Kougbenou. Between two masses or two electrical shutdowns, she guides us through the night of a city that doesn’t sleep, in a simple setting. Lily introduces us to a group of men who sing, read, play, live on the street, and to her friend Sophie (Jeanne Diama). By telling us all about the young Sophie’s dreams and delusions, she makes her a mythical character. Sophie, who fell in love with a policeman named Pilate, spends her days and nights thinking about him and dreaming of a life with him – even if his job was to kick her off the street.

Thy Will Be Kin is an ode to dreamers. It shows that dreams can rise anywhere, amongst a city that is in the middle of a political chaos, exploited for its resources. Lily describes the city’s smell as stinky, and the pavement as covered with diverse bodily fluids, but that doesn’t keep Sophie from dreaming or the men from singing. The text of the play is incredibly beautiful, like spoken poetry, and is highlighted by the simplicity of the set design. 

In the end, Thy Will Be Kin leaves us with a sweet aftertaste, both dreamy and political. This is the kind of play that we need to see more and that deserves to have wide audiences of not only middle-aged white men, but people of all ages and origins.

Résumé en français:

Que ta volonté soit Kin est une pièce qui parle avant tout de Kinshasa, et qui en montrant une rue, transmet le climat et les doutes de tout un pays. La pièce est une véritable ôde à la rêverie et montre que celle-ci peut émerger partout, et en chacun de nous. La mise en scène simple et chaleureuse d’Aristide Tarnagda illumine le magnifique texte de Sinzo Aanza, déclamé avec grâce par les comédiens, et notamment par Ami Akofa Kougbenou qui fait figure de narratrice. Face au public entièrement blanc et aisé de l’Odéon, la pièce se démarque et montre la nécessité de plus de variété dans la programmation des théâtres parisiens.