William Kentridge: Houseboy
In conjunction with the exhibition William Kentridge: In Praise of Shadows, The Broad and REDCAT co-present the world theatrical premiere of the performance of Houseboy, developed at The Centre for the Less Good Idea in Johannesburg, South Africa. Based on the 1956 novel by Cameroonian diplomat Ferdinand Oyono, the performance is directed by William Kentridge and explores themes of historical participation, archival memory, and post-colonial identity. Founded by Kentridge, The Centre is an incubator for performance where musicians, actors, dancers, and other artists come together in a workshop spirit, with a belief that "an ensemble sees the world differently to how one individual does.”
Upending accounts of colonial history told by colonizers, Houseboy looks at the same period through the vantage-point of colonized, specifically through the eyes of Toundi Ondoua who is forced to serve a colonial household. Oyono’s novel is told through Toundi’s diary and is unflinching in its account of an era full of contradictions, false promises, and crimes inflicted on the people of Cameroon.
South African performers are featured and a large charcoal drawing by Kentridge serves as the theatrical backdrop. Accompanied by live music and percussion, The Centre for the Less Good Idea’s staged interpretation of Oyono's novel creates an immersive multimedia experience that muses on agency and trauma.
Co-presented in conjunction with the William Kentridge: In Praise of Shadows exhibition, on view November 12, 2022–April 9, 2023
Generous support provided by Brenda R. Potter and Marian Goodman Gallery.
William Kentridge, Houseboy, 2021, production still. Adapted reading for stage of Ferdinand Oyono’s 1956 novel Houseboy.120 minutes. Photo Zivanai Matangi. Courtesy The Centre for the Less Good Idea and William Kentridge Studio.
Tickets include same-day access to the special exhibition William Kentridge: In Praise of Shadows and the third floor galleries, during operating hours. Access to Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Mirrored Room—The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away (2013) is not included and must be booked separately here.
Please note that this event takes place at REDCAT, 631 S. 2nd St., Los Angeles, CA 90012, located directly across the street from The Broad's 2nd St. parking entrance.
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For decades, William Kentridge (born 1955) has anchored his studio practice in charcoal drawing, moving from an associative and improvisational handling of images on paper into film, sculpture, opera and theater performances, printmaking, and many other mediums. Kentridge grew up in Apartheid-era Johannesburg, and he has continued to live there throughout his life. His art has sought to explore the edges, cracks, and uncertain spaces of a South Africa in transition from an oppressive, racially segregated society to an uncertain and challenging democracy. He is the founder of The Centre for the Less Good Idea, an interdisciplinary incubator space for the arts based in Maboneng, Johannesburg which aims to find the less good idea by creating and supporting experimental, collaborative and cross-disciplinary arts projects. Kentridge’s work has been seen in museums and galleries around the world since the 1990s, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Albertina Museum in Vienna, Musée du Louvre in Paris, Whitechapel Gallery in London, Louisiana Museum in Copenhagen, the Reina Sofia museum in Madrid, the Kunstmuseum in Basel, and Zeitz MOCAA and the Norval Foundation in Cape Town. Opera productions include Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Shostakovich’s The Nose, and Alban Berg’s operas Lulu and Wozzeck. William Kentridge’s theatrical productions include Waiting for the Sybil, performed at Rome Opera in 2019 and The Barbican in London in 2022, and Houseboy, which will have its world premiere at REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater) in conjunction with his exhibition at The Broad.
The Centre for the Less Good Idea
Founded by William Kentridge the Centre aims to find the less good idea by creating and supporting experimental, collaborative and cross-disciplinary arts projects.
The Centre is a physical and immaterial space to pursue incidental discoveries made in the process of producing work. Often, you start with a good idea, It might seem crystal clear at first, but when you take it off the proverbial drawing board, cracks and fissures emerge in its surface, and they cannot be ignored. It is in following the secondary ideas, those less good ideas coined to address the first idea’s cracks, that the Centre nurtures, arguing that in the act of playing with an idea, you can recognize those things you didn’t know in advance but knew somewhere inside of you.