Theater: “Damas! Fragments” Renders Tribute to Léon-Gontran Damas

Many thanks to Peter Jordens, who translated and shared this post with us. The ‘Chapelle du Verbe Incarné’ Theater in Avignon, France, has announced the staging of the musical-theatrical show Damas! Fragments from July 7 to 28, 2012. The show is based on excerpts from poems, stories, and essays by the late Guyanese writer and co-founder of the Négritude movement, Léon-Gontran Damas (1912-1978).

Damas! Fragments is a collaborative production of two French-Guyanese performing companies, the Compagnie de l’Homme aux Semelles de Vent and the Troupe du Méridien, who created the show to honor Damas in the centennial of his birth. It was first staged in French Guyana in April and May 2012 is now being presented in France during the Avignon Festival, an arts festival held annually in July.

Damas! Fragments combines theater, music, song and dance in order to embody the work and life of Damas: theater to tell the story of his career, his rebellion, his fight for justice and his love for the world; music to sing the blues of his poetry (like his 1956 book-length poem ‘Black-Label’); and dance to illustrate the physicality and sensuality of his words. By connecting excerpts from his work, the Compagnie de l’Homme aux Semelles de Vent and the Troupe du Méridien have sought to gradually shape a ‘poetics of the fragment’; hence the title of the show. Damas! Fragments is performed by a trio of artists: Guyanese actor Grégory Alexander (creator and artistic director of the Troupe du Méridien), gospel and soul singer Régine Lapassion, and actress, dancer and storyteller Valérie Whittington. They are accompanied on piano by Jean-Louis Danancier. Patrick Moreau and Raffaele Giuliani are the artistic directors.

Léon-Gontran Damas was one of the founders of the Négritude movement together with Aimé Césaire and Léopold Sédar Senghor. At the time of his death in 1978, he was a Distinguished Professor of African Literature at Howard University in Washington, DC. [Also see our previous post Léon-Gontran Damas.] Earlier this year, Howard University commemorated the centennial of Damas’ birth with a panel discussion and a keynote address by Maryse Condé, Guadeloupean ‘grande dame’ of Francophone literature [see http://www.hunewsservice.com/legendary-writer-maryse-conde-commemorates-centennial-of-negritude-co-founder-leon-damas-1.2843256].

See one of the several fragments—“Tambour Ka”—of Damas! Fragments (available on Youtube) here:

For the original announcement (in French) of Damas! Fragments by the ‘Chapelle du Verbe Incarné’ Theater, see http://www.rverbeincarne.fr/fr/archives/1877

For more background on Damas! Fragments, see http://www.e-karbe.com/spectacles-concerts/damas-fragments-un-spectacle-musico-theatral-a-partir-du-20-avril-2012-en-guyane, the Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/DamasFragments, the weblog http://damasfragments.blogspot.com, or the website of the Compagnie de l’Homme aux Semelles de Vent http://www.ciehsv.com

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