A theatrical exploration of The Stranger by Albert Camus
Director Nicolas Stemann stages the imaginary encounter between the main characters from two novels, one written by the French Albert Camus and the other by the Algerian Kamel Daoud.
Festival Holland Festival
Run time 75 minutes
Surtitles Dutch, English
Why is it that the Arab killed by the main character in Camus’ famous novel The Stranger has no name? This question is at the centre of the novel Meursault contre-enquête (‘The Meursault Investigation’) by Algerian writer Kamel Daoud, which director Nicolas Stemann based his play Contre-enquêtes on. The question is asked by the main character Haroun, the fictional brother of the Arab killed by Meursault, the main character of Camus’ novel. -|- In this critical homage to Camus, the two main characters Meursault and Haroun meet. It is through them that the two actors playing the fictional characters encounter each other and their audience as well. These encounters, against a backdrop of mutual misunderstandings, inspires an original rereading of history that raises many new questions. How does the decolonisation of the past continue to affect people on both sides of the Mediterranean? Nearly sixty years after Algeria’s independence, Contre-enquêtes uncovers the blind spots and hypocrisy in an open and accessible manner that challenges assumptions about ‘self’ and ‘strangers.’
The Stranger by Albert Camus
The Stranger by Albert Camus is the third most widely read French novel in the world, apart from The Little Prince and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. The book was translated into 68 languages. Camus, the French existentialist author born in Algeria portrays a French-born Algerian with a taciturn, not very ambitious personality called Meursault. When Meursault kills a man, simply called ‘the Arab’ in the novel, he is imprisoned and sentenced to death. This second part of the book allows Camus to further expand on existentialism’s fundamental themes: fate, guilt and the essential absurdity of the world. -|-
The death of an Arab
Sixty years after The Stranger was published, the Algerian writer and journalist Kamel Daoud published his first novel: Meursault contre-enquête (‘The Meursault Investigation’). He presented a monologue by a modern-day Algerian who claims to be the brother of the Arab victim in Camus’ novel. The death of this nameless man causes the European settler to reflect deeply about himself, but he does not give his victim a second thought.
Kamel Daoud pays a critical homage to the French writer. He addresses both Camus’ strong philosophical and critical thinking, as well as the unconscious persistence of colonial stereotypes and the difficult situation in modern Algeria. A country where, according to the Algerian novelist, ‘the past imprisons the present.’ The former coloniser is presented as the source of all current misery in the country, and this accusation is used to justify religious extremism and corruption.
Text by Eric Vautrin, dramaturge of the Vidy-Lausanne Theatre -|- Encounter between two fictional characters
Nicolas Stemann stages the imaginary encounter between the two fictional characters Meursault and the brother Haroun, between the two authors and between two French actors whose lives in different ways echo this recent history of Europe and the Maghreb. It questions current memories of the colonial era, the harmful effects of attributing blame and post-colonial practices in order to go beyond historic and cultural divides... and to uncover the sources of fiction in order to reflect our current age.
direction Nicolas Stemann text Kamel Daoud video Claudia Lehmann costumes Marysol del Castillo sound Nicolas Stemann, Paloma Colombe lights Jonathan O'Hear dramaturgy Katinka Deecke direction assistance Mathias Brossard cast Mounir Margoum, Thierry Raynaud production Théâtre Vidy-Lausanne, Schauspielhaus Zürich with support by Cercle des mécènes scenography Nicolas Stemann
About Holland Festival
Holland Festival is the largest international performing arts festival of the Netherlands and one of the oldest festivals of Europe. The festival was established in 1947 and will celebrate its 75-year anniversary in 2022.
It takes places every year, In June, in and around Amsterdam, at various locations, both indoors and outdoors, both large-scale and intimate, both online and offline.
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