Toto Kisaku

Playwright, actor, director and producer

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 producing and participating in plays. Toto arrived in the United States in late 2015 seeking political asylum, which he was granted in March 2018.

Since his arrival in the U.S., 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 endure. In his work, Toto transcends the constraints of daily life and examines 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, his first play to be performed in English, premiered at the 2018 International Festival of Arts & Ideas Artist with three sold-out performances. In 2019, as the Festival's inaugural Artist in Residence, Toto led workshops and talks at Wesleyan University, Quinnipiac University, Hampshire College, among others, and presented remotely in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Africa, and Europe. Requiem for an Electric Chair was performed in 2019 at the Barrow Group Performing Arts Center in New York City and at Studio Theatre in Washington D.C., and is currently touring the U.S.  Extending through 2023, the tour kicked off in Spring 2021 at Portland Ovations in Portland, Maine, and will next be performed in New York City at the annual Congo in Harlem Festival this October. His most recent play, 7 Dialogues (2021), was performed at Yale School of Architecture by Sydney Lemmon and Toto Kisaku as part of the Garden Pleasure project, and Toto is currently writing a new play entitled Six Feet Under the Loser.

Toto has been featured on NPR, ArtForum and The Washington Times and is the recipient of the 2010 Freedom to Create Prize, presented in Cairo, Egypt. He is also the recipient of the 2018 Rebecca Blunk Fund Award, granted by the New England Foundation for the Arts.