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the ghost are returning

the ghosts are returning

a music theatre piece
by GROUP 50:50


In 1952, a Swiss doctor brought seven "pygmy skeletons" from the Congolese province of Ituri (now Haut-Uele) to Switzerland and made them available to the University of Geneva for research purposes. 


GROUP 50:50 set off in search of their descendants in the forests of the Congo, where they encountered the nomadic Mbuti people. Do they want to reclaim the skeletons and thus the spirits of their ancestors? Because one thing is rarely taken into account in the debates about restitution: Along with the masks, skulls and skeletons, the spirits that the Europeans removed and locked away during the colonial period are also returning. 

Accompanied by a group of Mbuti, they perform a ritual for the seven spirits in song and dance - in the hope that they can find peace.


Musically, the production moves between genres. It takes up mourning laments from classical European and traditional Congolese music and looks at the polyphonic songs of the Mbuti, who celebrated their dead with complex choirs long before polyphonic requiems were composed in Europe. The result is a multimedia music theatre and a musical and scenic requiem for the seven skeletons and their spirits, in which a Mbuti choir engages in a video dialogue with the musicians and performers on stage. 


A project by the artists' collective GROUP 50:50, of which Ruth Kemna has been a member since its foundation.

More information at:


Premiere at 23 September 2021, since then performed at many international festivals in Europe and the DC Congo, currently on tour


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