KLII exorcises the ghost of King Leopold II through a mytho-biographical performance by theater maker Kaneza Schaal. Designed by Christopher Myers the performance draws on archival footage from Belgian filmmaker André Cauvin’s documentary Bwana Kitoko, mixing colonial aesthetics with traditional East African design to create a heightened visual persona. Building on Mark Twain’s King Leopold’s Soliloquy published in 1905, a fictional monologue written after Twain’s visit to Congo Free State and Patrice Lumumba’s 1960 independence speech in Congo, KLII considers the residue of colonialism in our everyday lives. Working with East African musicians and African American opera singers, the sound design investigates La Muette de Portici, the opera that ignited Belgium’s 1830 revolution. Schaal says, “our work is a repossession of canon and resituating of this canon within our own histories as black people.” KLII explores the nature of evil and the simultaneous looking inward and looking outward required to unroot legacies of catastrophic events.
Walker Art Center
Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati
KLII is a National Performance Network (NPN) Creation & Development Fund Project co-commissioned by Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, MN) with funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, in partnership with Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, REDCAT and NPN/VAN. The Creation & Development Fund is supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts (a federal agency). KLII was co-commissioned as part of the Eureka Commissions program by the Onassis Foundation.