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Les rencontres dramaturgiques de Kinshasa" festival, 1 - 4 June 2023

Les rencontres dramaturgiques de Kinshasa was initiated by Tarmac des auteurs and fuelled by a desire to celebrate playwrights. In other words, a festival of staged readings based on the celebration of playwrights' words and a commitment to bringing them to life. For this new season, Festival Director Israël Tshipamba Mouckounay has called on a duo of female curators; Aminata Abdoulaye from Niger, trained at INSAS in Brussels and Tina Mwimba from the Tarmac des auteurs in the Democratic Republic of Congo. According to the Festival Director, "it was important for the young actors who write the texts to be able to find themselves in models that resemble them and to believe in their own success in the profession".".

For several months, lively discussions were held in a Whatsapp group around the texts of the authors to be programmed. Although no theme was imposed on them, some common threads naturally emerged for this programme: women's rights, children's rights and a political dimension around good governance and democracy. Israël notes that there was a clear and assumed desire to give priority to African authors, because in his view, Western authors have other platforms at their disposal dedicated to showcasing their writings and making themselves known, unlike African authors.

Les rencontres dramaturgiques de Kinshasa is a unique festival of its kind in the Great Lakes region, as there is no festival dedicated to staged readings. The audience turned out every night. The artists in residence for this year's festival did a real job of outreach in the Kitambo neighbourhood on the outskirts of Kinshasa, where the Tarmac des auteurs is located. They invited people to come and watch the open rehearsals on certain evenings, creating a sense of curiosity among the audience, who turned out almost every night.

Another aspect of this festival is an educational approach aimed at young trainees at the Tarmac, writers and students from art schools, whether in scenography or drama. They have been supported in their training by the two curators and set designer Yoris Van Den Houte.

The partnership between the Tarmac des Auteurs and Africalia has meant that some of the authors read at the festival were also supported by the Tarmac des Auteurs in their early days. This just goes to show how important it is to continue supporting young people, especially young creative writers in the Democratic Republic of Congo, who, as Israel points out, make up the vast majority of the country's population.

When asked what he would like to see in future editions of the festival, he declares that he would like to see it become even more popular, thanks to wider distribution, particularly on the radio and in the new media.

Interview by Norbert Nzarubara

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