The story of They Drink It In The Congo focuses on Stef (played by Fiona Button) and her struggles to organise Congo Voice, a new London arts festival designed to raise awareness of a region that is the site of the deadliest conflict since the Second World War. They Drink It In the Congo explores issues with the white lens; identity, positioning, power and authenticity. It also sheds a much needed light on issues in the Congo surrounding mineral extraction and exploitation. Read our full review here.
With themes such as these, WOA had to take a trip down to the Almeida Theatre in Angel, London to see what the play had to offer. Here are four things we learnt from the play.
How to use space:
Have you ever taken a trip to IKEA, purchased way too much and found it impossible to fit everything in the designated space? It’s always amazing to watch how theatre productions are able to fit the entirety of a layered set, with it’s multiple scenes into one contained floor place. In TDIINC, this task was executed beautifully – almost magically, as the floor space was turned into a mine in order to represent the atrocities of mineral extraction in the Congo and the lives it encapsulates. The transformation of the floor space was not only carried out artistically and smoothly but also in ways that were visually stunning and emotionally hard hitting. It taught us how to get creative when executing several things in one space.
Smart ways to critique the smart phone:
For most, the smart phone is the husband or wife we are married to via a 30 per month phone contract. But the price many pay in order to create our favourite technological devise is often with their lives, if not literally then figuratively – unable to live passion driven lives because they are too busy having to use their energy to extract minerals that power our phones. They Drink In the Congo raised awareness of Congo’s political history along with present day issues involving the exploitation of minerals and human capital to run the technology mainly consumed in the West. As this is typed on a Mac, (Apple being one of the biggest contributors to the extraction of Coltan) TDIITC asks you to ask yourself; what can be done?
“There is no need to mention that which does not exist” :
Above is a line from the play showing how socially and politically charged the production was. It brought to light an issue swept under a rug that is decades old. Highlighting the often violent, fragmented and layered relationship between the Congo and Europe ensures that sound has been brought to the silence. The script ensures you do not leave your seat without understanding the complexities of Congo’s blood coloured history and in who’s hands the weapon lies.
How to be moved
Woven throughout the production were powerful and thought provoking lines, inspiring thoughts of change and improvement regarding the current context of technology industries interaction with the Congo.
Here are some of the best quotes from the night:
“For me, Congo is not a story. It is a place. People live in it. People like you and me who are never safe and is not their fault. Women most of all. But if Congo is a story, it must be the worst story in history. Because no one ever wants to hear it. “
“One foot in front of the other, get the job done”
“Patrice Lumumba, the only truly elected leader of Congo. He is the Mandele of our country, who the Americans killed before he could bring change”
“A Congolese life is worth less than a computer chip”
They Drink It In The Congo is on at the Almeida Theatre until October 1; 020 7359 4404