The Head & the Load


A highlight of the 2018 season of First World War centenary art commissions, The Head & the Load is a highly ambitious artistic work of dreamscapes and immense proportions. Echoing a Ghanaian proverb, ‘the head and the load are the troubles of the neck’, Kentridge will amplify the object load carried by African supply porters, and the weight of a history made heavier by its invisibility. This will be William Kentridge’s grandest production to date, up-ending standard notions of scale in theatre and unlike anything he has ever staged before.

Featuring a chamber orchestra, brass section, and large South African cast of singers, dancers and performers, the presentation will include huge film projections taking place over a 60-80 minute period. Stunning new music is being created by Philip Miller - one of South Africa’s leading composers –whose powerful and evocative compositions offer a perfect complement to Kentridge’s feverishly imaginative work.

In the mix will also be a brass ensemble, an array of soloists and performers accompanied by a choir of voices, roving concertinas and a chorus of mechanised megaphones. Musically the work will encompass everything from African choral traditions to European High Modernism during the period of the First World War.

The iconography will also reference Kentridge’s current work on the opera Wozzeck, (Salzburg, Summer 2017) which is seen as a premonition of the First World War. 


  • 2018-12-04 00:00:00 2018-12-15 00:00:00 - Park Avenue Armory , New York - USA


  • 2018-08-09 00:00:00 2018-09-12 00:00:00 - Ruhrtriennale, Bochum - Germany
  • 2018-07-11 00:00:00 2018-07-15 00:00:00 - TATE MODERN, London - UK