© Stella Olivier

William Kentridge:
The Great Yes, The Great No

Music Theatre
World Premiere

Parc des Ateliers
From  to 

Discover more

LUMA Arles presents "The Great Yes, The Great No" in partnership with the Festival d'Aix-en-Provence.

March 1941: a cargo ship leaves Marseille for Martinique with, on board, several artists and intellectuals escaping from Vichy France, including André Breton, Claude Lévi-Strauss and the Cuban artist Wifredo Lam.

This real event takes a magical turn when Charon, the ferryman of the dead who has now been promoted captain, rearranges space-time and invites other celebrated figures to join this new kind of ark, an allegory of all the forced expeditions of the past and present, including the representatives of anti-colonialism Aimé Césaire, Franz Fanon and the Nardal sisters.

The wonderful visual artist William Kentridge launches the spectator on to one of his artistic, political and spiritual adventures of which he alone holds the secret: a chamber opera inspired by the avant-gardes of the time, mixing the surreal and irrational (masks, collages, projections) and engaging dancers, performers, chorus members and instrumentalists in a vast web of musical styles, especially African and Caribbean.

Spoken and sung in English, French, Isiswati, Isizulu, Isixhosa, Setswana and Xitsonga with French and English surtitles

Practical Info: 
 Sunday July 7, Monday July 8, Tuesday July 9, Wednesday July 10
Times: 9:30 p.m.
Duration: 1h20 (without interval)
Place: La Grande Halle
Full price: From €32
Youth price: From €10

A return journey (round trip) shuttle service from Aix-en-Provence to LUMA Arles will be offered at the time of your booking.


"How does one understand colonialism?" Victor & Simon
Norbert Miguletz

William Kentridge

William Kentridge (born Johannesburg, South Africa, 1955) is internationally acclaimed for his drawings, films, theatre and opera productions. His method combines drawing, writing, film, performance, music, theatre, and collaborative practices to create works of art that are grounded in politics, science, literature and history, yet maintaining a space for contradiction and uncertainty. 

Kentridge’s work has been seen in museums and galleries around the world since the 1990s, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Albertina Museum in Vienna, Musée du Louvre in Paris, Whitechapel Gallery in London, Louisiana Museum in Copenhagen, the Reina Sofia museum in Madrid, the Kunstmuseum in Basel, Zeitz MOCAA and the Norval Foundation in Cape Town and the Royal Academy of Arts in London.  He has participated a number of times in Documenta in Kassel (2012, 2002,1997) and the Venice Biennale (2015, 2013, 2005, 1999 and 1993). 

Opera productions include Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Shostakovich’s The Nose, and Alban Berg’s operas Lulu and Wozzeck, and have been seen at opera houses including the Metropolitan Opera in New York, La Scala in Milan, English National Opera in London, Opera de Lyon, Amsterdam opera, the Sydney Opera House and the Salzburg Festival.

Kentridge’s theatrical productions, performed in theatres and at festivals across the globe include Refuse the Hour, Winterreise, Paper Music, The Head & the Load, Ursonate and Waiting for the Sibyl and in collaboration with the Handspring Puppet Company, Ubu & the Truth Commission, Faustus in Africa!, Il Ritorno d’Ulisse, and Woyzeck on the Highveld.  

In 2016 Kentridge founded the Centre for the Less Good Idea in Johannesburg: a space for responsive thinking and making through experimental, collaborative and cross-disciplinary arts practices. The Centre hosts an ongoing programme of workshops, public performances and mentorship activities.

Kentridge is the recipient of honorary doctorates from several universities including Yale, London University and Columbia University. In 2010, he received the Kyoto Prize. In 2012, he was awarded the Commandeur dans l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres in France and he presented the Charles Eliot Norton Lectures at Harvard University. In 2015 he was appointed an Honorary Academician of the Royal Academy in London. In 2017, he received the Princesa de Asturias Award for the arts, and in 2018, the Antonio Feltrinelli International Prize. In 2019 he received the Praemium Imperiale award in painting in Tokyo. In 2021 he was made a Foreign Associate Member to the French Académie des Beaux Arts, Paris. In 2022 he was presented the Honour of the Order of the Star of Italy and in 2023 he received the Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Opera for Sibyl in London. 

Creative team

Concept | Director: William Kentridge
Associate Directors: Nhlanhla Mahlangu | Phala O. Phala
Choral Composer: Nhlanhla Mahlangu
Music Director: Tlale Makhene
Dramaturg: Mwenya Kabwe
Costume Design: Greta Goiris
Set Design: Sabine Theunissen
Lighting Design: Urs Schönebaum | Elena Gui
Projection Editing | Compositing: Žana Marović | Janus Fouché | Joshua Trappler
Cinematography: Duško Marović
Video Control: Kim Gunning

Performed and created by

Performers: Xolisile Bongwana, Hamilton Dhlamini, William Harding, Tony Miyambo, Nancy Nkusi, Luc de Wit
Dancers: Thulani Chauke & Teresa Phuti Mojela
Chorus: Anathi Conjwa, Asanda Hanabe, Zandile Hlatshwayo, Khokho Madlala, Nokuthula Magubane, Mapule Moloi,Nomathamsanqa Ngoma
Musicians: Marika Hughes (Cello), Nathan Koci (Accordion | Banjo), Tlale Makhene (Percussion), Thandi Ntuli (Piano)

Produced by 

THE OFFICE performing arts + film
A project of the Centre for the Less Good Idea

Lead commissioner
LUMA Foundation, Arles, France

Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, Miami USA; CAL Performances, Berkeley USA; Centre d’Art Battat, Montreal Canada.

Foundational commissioning support for the development and creation of The Great Yes, The Great No is provided by Brown Arts Institute at Brown University.

Toured in partnership Quaternaire


Exhibitions Ticketing Practical infos Replay of events Guided tours About LUMA About Atelier LUMA


Sign In

Already have a token ?
Click here to connect with it.

Please enter yout email adress.