portraits
Portrait
Music
Theatre

KPG

Our mother tongue is the milk that all human beings are fed on.

World-renowned Burkinabé storyteller Kientega Pingdéwindé Gérard (known as KPG) draws on his ancestral roots to fuel his poetic art, where nature, elements and objects come to life. His practice aims to rebuild connections between African people and oral traditions.

Updated on 22/03/2021

2 min

Born in Arbollé, in northern Burkina Faso, KPG grew up between the imaginary world of blacksmiths and mask culture, thanks to his father. In 1997 he enrolled in the Atelier Théâtre Burkinabè (ATB), before working both with local theatre companies, such as the Théâtre du Roseau, and French ones such as Ego and Engrenage(s). He soon began to focus on storytelling. Between 2002 and 2007, he ran workshops for children at the Institut Français in Ouagadougou and brought his first original texts (Musée de la poule poilue in 2005, Dolé Danlé in 2007) to the stage. With Paroles de Forgeron (2010), he demonstrated his unique storytelling skills, reinventing the Mossi tradition by applying it to contemporary themes. In 2017, Kossyam (2017) recounted the overthrow of president Blaise Compaoré. As the founder and director of the Centre Culturel Koombi in Arbollé, KPG is particularly committed to education. The operation “le Conte à l'école” (Storytelling at School) helps teach young people about the oral tradition.

Central to KPG’s work is a unique approach to language. The storyteller first writes his texts in Mooré – his native language – before translating them into French. This approach allows him to enrich the story considerably through his ingenious use of polysemy and imagery unique to each language. KPG also likes to point out that he is from the blacksmith caste. But while his forbears created tools for farmers, he sees himself as a contemporary artisan who forges stories. His use of imagery relating to the forge, in which tools (anvil, hammer, etc.) come to life, represents an essential resource for his art, an allegorical way to evoke the evils of society. The project Supiim (“needle” in Moré) is based on this principle, with KPG inviting actors, singers and rappers from different African countries to his workshop in the forge in order to create a modern tale that explores current crises.

Right from his first stage projects, KPG went beyond the borders of Burkina Faso to expand his fame in the French-speaking sphere. In 2009 he won the silver medal in the “Art and Oral Storytelling” category at the 6th Jeux de la Francophonie. One year later, he was invited to the Rendez-vous de la Francophonie as part of the Vancouver Olympic Games and opened the 13th Francophonie Summit in Montreux. But his influence extends much further than this, as the storyteller is particularly wedded to the idea of transmission. He believes that crises and conflicts are born out of a lack of understanding of our culture and our roots. This universal theme, which was central to the show Ragandé ! Ne dors pas ! (2016), has enabled him to perform in much of Africa (FESPACO, Festival des Arts de la Parole in Algiers, Marrakech du Rire). In 2020, during lockdown, daily “live” streams on Facebook allowed internet users around the world to discover glimmers of KPG's performance.

Supiim
Supiim
  • 1978

    1978

    Born in Arbollé (Burkina Faso).

  • 1997

    1997

    KPG enrols in the Atelier Théâtre Burkinabè where he trains in theatre arts.

  • 2002

    2002

    He runs storytelling workshops for children at the Institut Français in Ouagadougou.

  • 2013

    2013

    KPG is a guest at the Vancouver Winter Olympics and the 13th Francophonie Summit (Montreux).

  • 2020

    2020

    His project Supiim receives support from the “Des Mots à la Scène” programme and two Centres Nationaux des Arts de la Rue (National Centre for circus, dramatic and street arts): Le Moulin Fondu and Atelier 231.

The Institut français and the artist

KPG is 2020 laureate of Des mots à la scène (From Words to the Stage). Des mots à la scène is a support fund for the production of contemporary writing for the stage from Africa and the Caribbean. It aims to promote authors from the south who are little known or played.

Find out more about Des mots à la scène

L'institut français, LAB