Franco-Senegalese playwright and dramaturg Penda Diouf reads her most recent play about resilience that is both intimate and political, Pistes (Tracks). Directed by Aristide Tarnagda, this monologue about the courage to come face-to-face with one’s own demons is also a roadtrip across Namibia, site of the first genocide of the 20th century targeting the Herero and the Nama people.

Diouf’s play asks: How can we confront the past in order to rebuild ourselves? In Pistes, Diouf looks into the issue of bravery in a personal way and sheds light upon all the things that she has always kept hidden from view, her years of suffering, depression and fear of meeting the challenge of life. She plunges deep into her inner self and journeys through the intricacies of the various memories that have shaped her. It is this process which allows her to rebuild herself, discreetly testifying to her weaknesses. Memories come back to her. As an adolescent, she had admired the sprinter Frankie Frédéricks and the way he excelled on athletics tracks across the world. She decides to go on a road-trip in Namibia following the footsteps of this track champion. Confronted with the discovery of the first genocide of the 20th century, that of the Herero and the Nama people at the hands of the German colonialists, she comes face-to-face with her demons and her dreams. In doing so, she is able to heal her scars.

Via the spoken word of a poetic and intimate nature, Pistes, brought to the stage by Aristide Tarnagda, the director of Les Récréâtrales festival in Ouagadougou, invites viewers to dig deep into their own hurt in search of inner strength. Only then can they achieve self-fulfillment.

The virtual event is free and open to the public.


The video recording was posted on this page from September 11-14. The reading is in French; read the accompanying English translation of the script.


On September 13 at 2:00 p.m. (EDT), join us for a live conversation with Penda Diouf and Artistide Tarnagda on Zoom in French following the online presentation of Pistes (Tracks). Advance registration required; Register for the Conversation


If you are in need of access accommodations in order to participate in this event, please contact the Lewis Center at 609-258-5262 or email at least 2 weeks in advance of the event date.



Short video of Penda Diouf:

Portrait of Penda Diouf and Aristide Tarnagda:

Presentation of Les Récréâtrales Festival in Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso (directed by Aristide Tarnagda):



Direction: Aristide Tarnagda
Text: Penda Diouf
Read by Penda Diouf
Produced by Théâtre Acclamations
Coproduced by Théâtre Jean Vilar de Vitry-sur-Seine ; MC93 – Maison de la Culture de Seine-Saint-Denis (Bobigny) ; La Comédie de Valence, centre dramatique national Drôme-Ardèche ; Les Récréâtrales (Ouagadougou)
Coréalisation MC93 – Maison de la Culture de Seine-Saint-Denis (Bobigny) ; and Festival d’Automne à Paris
With the support of Coopération Suisse in Burkina Faso
First performed on the 29th November 2019 at Théâtre Jean-Vilar de Vitry-sur-Seine

Presented By

  • Lewis Center for the Arts
  • Department of Comparative Literature
  • Cultural Services of the French Embassy
  • Institut Français
  • Department of Art and Archaeology
  • Humanities Council
  • Center for French Studies
  • Program in Contemporary European Politics and Society
  • French American Cultural Exchange Foundation
  • Department of French and Italian
  • L’Avant-Scène
  • Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies