Holocaust Drama, The Investigation, Presented by Rwandan Troupe in Chicago

News   Holocaust Drama, The Investigation, Presented by Rwandan Troupe in Chicago Chicago Shakespeare Theater's World's Stage Series opens playwright Peter Weiss' The Investigation, based on transcripts of the 1964 Frankfurt World War II crimes trials, on Jan. 22, presented by Rwandan artists who know genocide first-hand.
A scene from The Investigation
A scene from The Investigation Photo by Marc Enguerand

Dorcy Rugamba's 80-minute abridgement of Weiss' five-hour script will be performed by the Rwandan company, Urwintore, in French with projected English translation.

"One of the earliest theatrical responses to the Holocaust and hailed as a key example of documentary or 'verbatim' theatre, The Investigation uses documents of history and facts rather than imagined characters and events," according to the Tony Award-winning CST. "Now with a revival from Urwintore, a Rwanda-based company founded by director/performer Dorcy Rugamba, the testimonies are presented in a more contemporary context by seven actors from Rwanda and Congo who have experienced the effects of genocide first-hand. Performed by these actors, Weiss' The Investigation reveals an all too timely connection to the Rwandan genocide of 1994."

The ten-performance run began with a Jan. 21 preview day Upstairs at Chicago Shakespeare and will play to Jan. 31.

"In many ways, it's exactly the right piece for us now," says Rugamba. "It's a play about two versions of history: the victims' and the executioners'. The Frankfurt trials were the first time that Germans confronted and judged Germans in the aftermath of a national trauma; Rwanda is now deep in the same process with our Gacaca village tribunals. The Investigation takes a long, hard look at another genocide and asks: what exactly was going on here? So, watching as a Rwandan, it doesn't matter if you're the son of a killer or of a victim, because the play doesn't say: I accuse my neighbor's father. The values are more universal."

The Urwintore company's interpretation of The Investigation has been performed at some of the world's major theatres, including Peter Brook's Bouffes du Nord in Paris and the Young Vic in London. The Investigation is adapted and directed by Urwintore artistic director Dorcy Rugamba and Isabelle Gyselinx and translated by Jean Baudrillard. The play's production elements are coordinated by Fabienne Damiean (design), Manu Deck (lighting) and Steve Jaribu Rukongi (technical production).

The cast of The Investigation includes Leon Athanase Mandali, Lyliane Matabishi Mukase, Samuel Muteba Sangwa, Kenny Theophile Nkundwa, Thomas Nyarwaya, Olivier Rangira and Aimable Twahirwa, each taking on a number of different roles.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.chicagoshakes.com/investigation.

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In February, CST will continue its 2008-09 World's Stage Series with Sweet William, Michael Pennington's "large-spirited one-man show that pays homage to Shakespeare's life and work," Feb. 3-22, 2009, Upstairs at Chicago Shakespeare.

A scene from <i>The Investigation</i>
A scene from The Investigation Photo by Keith Pattison