Connecticut
Profile Type: Artist
NEFA Grant Recipient
Artist
Toto Kisaku

Toto Kisaku, is an award-winning Congolese playwright, actor, director and producer who studied drama at the National Institute of Arts in Kinshasa. After establishing the K-Mu Theater in 2003, he spent the next 15 years traveling the world to produce and participate in plays. Toto arrived in the United States in late 2015 seeking political asylum, which he was granted in March 2018. Since his arrival, Toto has spent his time learning and redefining his artistic expression based on the tension that both his country of origin and the country which has welcomed him are enduring. In his work, Toto focuses on transcending the constraints of daily life and examining how people living in poverty or under oppressive regimes can recreate their environments and improve their lives through artistic activities. Toto’s pieces invite both spectator and actor to find ways to go beyond the walls of both the performance and living space.  
His last piece "7 dialogues" was performed at Yale School of Architecture by Sydney Lemmon and Toto Kisaku through the Garden Pleasure project. The first International Festival of Arts & Ideas Artist in residence 2019 led workshop programs and Talks in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Africa, Europe before the U.S at Wesleyan University, Quinnipiac University, Hampshire College, etc.

Toto’s piece Requiem For An Electric Chair premiered at the 2018 Festival with three sold-out performances and is his first play to be performed in English. Toto was the recipient of the 2010 "Freedom to Create Prize,” presented in Cairo, Egypt. He was also the recipient of the 2018 Rebecca Blunk Fund award, granted by the New England Foundation for the Arts.

Requiem for an Electric Chair have been performed at the Studio Theatre in Washington DC last November 2019 and will be touring in the US on 2020-2021. In April 2020 the play will be performed in Portland - Maine at The Portland Ovation with a residency.

Additional Links: 
"Does the acquisition of an identity change our being? Does looking for and discovering our identity strengthen or weaken our capacity for personal and community development?"

I Have Worked With

  • December 2019

    The project happening now until February 8, 2020

    Collaborating with the project as a Playwright. I gave words to the environment questioning humans through 7 dialogues. The script describing the giant figures' voices and representing the human subconsciousness. 

    The 7 dialogues introduce a personal and open exchange in an unusual direction, today. These dialogues are presented in a format to which the giant structures admire, contemplate and challenge the human by reminding them that space is the main symbol of common identity.

    These characters that you are seeing standing there in these figures, giant, without heads, without words, without looks or faces...

    Standing each one at the sides and under the feet of the big figures, they or they stir the spoons in their audial cloud of coffee. Producing sounds. The sounds covering the emptiness created by you... rather us. In this sonority, we feel the silence in the room.

    All they will do is to prohibit any noise that may interfere with the silence produced by humans in this space. This is our internal dialogue between people, alike or dissimilar... It is rather a simple observation of the environment.

    It is also the reaction of the environment to the helpless gaze of humans. Because the space in which these openings in height, width and depth offer you, is the one located, forgotten, ignored and housed in our subconsciousness. So these giants are observing and talking to you.

     

  • November 2019

    TOTO KISAKU's "Requiem for an Electric Chair"

    Studio Theatre 

    1501 14th St NW

    Washington, DC 20005

    Toto Kisaku is an award-winning Congolese playwright, actor, director and producer. Detained for putting on plays critical of the Congolese government, Toto arrived in the United States in late 2015 seeking political asylum, which he was granted in March of 2018. His one-man play, Requiem For An Electric Chair, tells the story of his persecution in and eventual exile from Congo and opens with his interview with a U.S. immigration officer. Through this narrative, Toto shares the story of his arrest, imprisonment, and near-death in Congo, and the way his art ultimately saved his life. 

    In his work, Toto explores themes of transgression, oppression, and poverty, often challenging the boundaries between performance and daily life. Toto is the 2019 International Festival of Arts & Ideas Artist-in-Residence. In 2010, he was the recipient of the Freedom to Create Prize, presented in Cairo, Egypt. The prize is a celebration of the courage and creativity of artists, and the positive influence of their work to promote social justice and inspire the human spirit. Toto has been featured in NPR, ArtForum, and Washington Times.

  • January 2019 to September 2019

    The International Festival of Arts & Ideas is proud to welcome its first official Artist in Residence this January. The Festival looked for an artist who is passionate about the ways arts and culture build and strengthen cities, building and maintaining relationships with the community, and working collaboratively within an organization that values the diversity of our city and state. The Festival’s Artist in Residence works with staff and community members to explore the creative process, demonstrating the ways in which practicing artists can be of relevance and value to other sectors including business, economics, civic government, and education. Unlike some Artist in Residence programs, the Festival’s program does not require a set outcome but instead allows the artist to set his or her own path and explore how an artist's voice can contribute to the conversation at any table.

    Our 2019 Artist in Residence, Toto Kisaku, is an award-winning Congolese playwright, actor, director and producer who studied drama at the National Institute of Arts in Kinshasa. After establishing the K-Mu Theater in 2003, he spent the next 15 years traveling the world to produce and participate in plays. Toto arrived in the United States in late 2015 seeking political asylum, which he was granted in March of last year. Since his arrival, Toto has spent his time learning and redefining his artistic expression based on the tension that both his country of origin and the country which has welcomed him are enduring. In his work, Toto focuses on transcending the constraints of daily life and examining how people living in poverty or under oppressive regimes can recreate their environments and improve their lives through artistic activities. Toto’s pieces invite both spectator and actor to find ways to go beyond the walls of both the performance and living space.  

    Toto’s piece Requiem For An Electric Chair premiered at the 2018 Festival with three sold-out performances and is his first play to be performed in English. Toto was the recipient of the 2010 "Freedom to Create Prize,” presented in Cairo, Egypt. He was also the recipient of the 2018 Rebecca Blunk Fund award, granted by the New England Foundation for the Arts.

    Toto has appeared in festivals around the world including our own Arts & Ideas Festival, TILT, Festival of Limoges, Avignon, Paris Quartier d’Eté, Right About Now, a/d Werf, ICAF, TAZ, Festival sur le Niger, Les Pilotobés, Mantsina sur scène, and Toseka. His current pieces include Rencontre au PlurielBasal'ya BazobaSurface, and Requiem for an Electric Chair. He has performed as Booth in Topdog/Underdog as directed by Philip Boulay. Toto has contributed to numerous workshops and residencies across the DRC, Africa, and Europe.

     

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  • Artist

Contact Information

First Name: 
Toto
Job Title/Position: 
Theater Maker
Mailing Address: 
323 DeKoven Dr. Apt 2w
Middletown, CT 06457
Physical Address: 
323 DeKoven Dr. Apt 2w
Middletown, CT 06457
Last Name: 
Kisaku
Phone: 
203-808-8759

About

Profile Type: 
Artist
Primary Discipline: 
Theater - General
Additional Disciplines: 
Literary Arts - Spoken Word
Theater - Children's
Theater - Playwriting
Theater - Storytelling
Populations Served: 
Adults
Businesses
Elders
Families
General Public
Immigrant Populations
Incarcerated (or Formerly Incarcerated) Individuals
LGBTQ Populations
Native American Tribes
Nonprofits
People with Disabilities
School Groups
Teens
Veteran/Active Duty Military Personnel
Youth-At-Risk
Languages Available: 
French
Institution/Business Type: 
Artist (Individual)
Activities and Services: 
Arts for Social Change / Creative Activism
Arts Instruction / Lessons
Community Arts
Creation of a Work of Art (Including Commissions)
Performance / Concert / Reading
Professional Development / Training
Professional Network Gatherings / Events
Residency - Community
Residency - In School
Residency - Production / Development
Residency - Other
Workshops / Demonstrations / Master Class
Events Per Year: 
300
Seasons Active: 
Spring
Summer
Fall
Winter
Geographic Reach: 
Town / City
County
Multi-County Region
State
Multi-State Region
National
International

Affiliations and Accomplishments

Awards: 
Rebecca Blunk Fund (2018)
Freedom to Create Award (2010)
Artist Fellowship Award, COA. (2020)
I am a NEFA Grant Recipient

Accessibility of Services

Access accommodations for people who use a wheelchair and have limited mobility
Access accommodations for people who are blind, partially sighted, and have low vision
Access accommodations for people who are Deaf and hard-of-hearing
Performances and workshops can be developed to meet the audience members' and participants' needs, upon request.

I am a Touring Artist

I am NEST eligible
Technical Requirements: 
Vary based on performance or workshop
Portland Ovations, Portland Maine
Fee Range Minimum: 
$7,000
Fee Range Maximum: 
$15,000
State of Residence: 
Connecticut
Minimum Number of Performers: 
1
Maximum Number of Performers: 
1

I am a Teaching Artist

Teaching Settings: 
Afterschool Program
Arts and Cultural Center / Venue
Community Site / Center
Corporate Business
Healthcare Facility
Private Studio
School / University
Subject Areas: 
Arts Integration - Communications
Arts Integration - Foreign Languages
Arts Integration - History and Social Science
Theater
Ages Served: 
Elementary School-age
Middle School-age
High School-age
College-Age
Adults
Seniors
Fee Range Minimum: 
$900
Fee Range Maximum: 
$2,000