The Living and the Dead Ensemble

The Wake
Haiti, France, United Kingdom 2021

Night has fallen on a world on fire. Demonstrations, earthquakes, forest fires – fire is everywhere. The fires of struggles and pains, of rebirth and chaos. Men and women speak and despeak to honor the dead and save the living.
The Wake, the new creation of The Living and the Dead Ensemble, is a play that re-weaves an exploded geography, like the broken mirror of a chaotic world. Personal stories and fables, cries of revolt and songs, demands and delusions – an assembly of people try to understand one another. Is there a possible future that could exist beyond the repetition of all sorts of catastrophes? Is there a common fire to be shared among those who have lost the power of speech or never even possessed it?
During the writing process for this uncertain journey into space and time, the authors of The Living and the Dead Ensemble worked with sequences from the play “Mélovivi ou le piège” by Haitian writer Frankétienne. Through a rereading and an updating of a work that anticipated the earthquake that would ravage Haiti ten years ago, they used the idea of the wake as a visionary space, which in turn foreshadowed the conflagration of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The Living and the Dead Ensemble are a group of artists, performers and poets from Haiti, France and the United Kingdom. Founded in 2017, the ensemble produce texts, performances, films and installations, through which the group’s members relate the cultural richness and history of Haiti as the first independent black republic in America. Ouvertures, based on an idea by Louis Henderson and Olivier Marboeuf, is the first film by The Living and the Dead Ensemble. Their work explores different possible methods of telling the history and the present from a Caribbean perspective and a transnational imaginary. The Ensemble produce texts, performances, films and installations.
Its members include Léonard Jean Baptiste, Mackenson Bijou, Rossi Jacques Casimir, Dieuvela Cherestal, James Desiris, James Fleurissaint, Louis Henderson, Cynthia Maignan, Sophonie Maignan, Olivier Marboeuf and Mimétik Nèg.

Artistic Direction The Living and the Dead Ensemble. Curators Elena Agudio, Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung. Production Abhishek Nilamber, Antonio Pedro Mendes. Management Lema Sikod. Communications Anna Jäger. Tech Bert Günther. Art Handling Rafal Lazar. Online Platform Common Garden developed by Constant Dullaart & designed by Juan Pablo Garcia Sossa.

The Wake is a coproduction by Spectre Productions, Le théâtre de l’Usine (Genève), Les Ateliers Médicis (Clichy-Montfermeil), Kunstenfestival des Arts (Bruxelles), Z33 (Aalst), SAVVY Contemporary (Berlin) and Berlinale Forum Expanded.

The INVOCATIONS “Les Veillées” is a project supported by the fund PERSPEKTIVE pour l’art contemporain & l’architecture, an initiative of Bureau des arts plastiques de l’Institut français d’Allemagne. With the support of Ministère de la Culture, Institut français de Paris and Goethe Institut. In collaboration with R22 Tout-Monde.


2020: Ouvertures (132 Min., Forum 2020). 2021: The Wake.

Photo: © The Living and the Dead Ensemble