La plus secrète mémoire des hommes
Following the Trail of Words
Aristide Tarnagda and Odile Sankara, two towering voices of contemporary Burkinabe theatre, deliver a theatrical reading of Mohamed Mbougar Sarr’s novel La plus secrète mémoire des hommes. A veritable literary odyssey revolving around a myriad of stories, this gripping work spans a century and three continents. From Senegal to France via Argentina, the winner of the most recent Prix Goncourt addresses the authenticity and power of literature with biting wit.
The young Senegalese author’s literary investigation inspired the duo in charge of Les Récréâtrales in Ouagadougou, one of the major theatre festival in West Africa and a hub for contemporary French-language writing from across the African continent. Through its complexity, its narrative energy, and its questions around of the transmission of knowledge in a global context, Sarr’s profoundly human novel unsettles the traditional opposition of Africa and the West.
Produced by Association Récréâtrales
Written by Mohamed Mbougar Sarr (Éditions Philippe Rey, 2021)
Adapted and directed by Aristide Tarnagda
Performed by Aristide Tarnagda + Odile Sankara
Music composed and performed by Antoine Berthiaume
Lighting Design Claire Seyller
Stage Manager Elaine Normandeau
Co-produced by Festival TransAmériques + Théâtre Acclamations
Presented in association with Monument-National
Premiered at Festival TransAmériques, Montreal, on May 26, 2022
Written by Ralph Elawani
Translated by David Dalgleish
About the artists
Mohamed Mbougar Sarr (Paris + Dakar)
Author Mohamed Mbougar Sarr was born in Dakar in 1990. After tackling the fate of illegal migrants (Silence du chœur, 2015) and the treatment of homosexuals in Senegal (De purs hommes, 2017), he imagined a resistance opposing the reign of terror in a city under Islamic rule (Terre ceinte, 2018).
La plus secrète mémoire des hommes (2021), inspired by the scandal surrounding the publication of Le Devoir de violence by Yambo Ouologuem in 1968, revealed him to a mass audience as one of contemporary French literature’s most talented prose writers.
Aristide Tarnagda (Ouagadougou) Les Récréâtrales
Aristide Tarnagda is a dramaturge, director, and actor. Born in Ouagadougou in 1983, he began his career in theatre after completing his studies in sociology. His meeting with the Ivorian dramaturge Koffi Kwahulé at the Les Récréâtrales festival, where he presented his first work, Alors, tue-moi, in 2004, was pivotal.
He subsequently criss-crossed Africa, Europe, and South America with projects rooted in themes revolving around migration. In 2013, his second appearance at the Festival d’Avignon attracted attention thanks to Et si je les tuais tous madame ?, which he wrote and directed. In 2016, Tarnagda was named artistic director of the Les Récréâtrales festival and Labo Elan, a space devoted to pan-African research, writing, and creation. His most recent directorial efforts include Que ta volonté soit Kin and Plaidoirie pour vendre le Congo by the Congo’s Sinzo Aanza, along with Pistes by French-Senegalese author Penda Diouf. In 2021, he also directed the first stage adaptation of Mohamed Mbougar Sarr’s novel Terre ceinte.
Odile Sankara (Ouagadougou) Les Récréâtrales
Actor, writer, director, and activist Odile Sankara is the president of Les Récréâtrales and a founding member of the Association Talents de Femme in Burkina Faso. A leading figure on the country’s arts scene, she has participated in organizing five editions of the Festival voix de femmes.
In the theatre, she has notably performed in works by Kafka, Pasolini, Duras, and Ionesco. She collaborated with Moïse Touré on a show paying tribute to the Senegalese writer and director Sembène Ousmane and directed Parole due, based on the poetry of Aimé Césaire. In 2021, on the occasion of the Festival des Francophonies in Limoges, she presented Et que mon règne arrive, a journey through the individual and collective memory of African women by the Cameroonian writer Léonora Miano.
« Roman à la fois africain et voyageur, portrait éclaté d’un absent, il contient le présent, le futur et le passé à la manière d’un puits sans fond où se mêlent aussi le manque et les regrets amoureux, les souffrances de l’exil, certains deuils impossibles à surmonter, des vision d’horreur et quelques fantômes. »
Christian Desmeules, Le Devoir, 2021-10-02