Contre-enquêtes

Nicolas Stemann, Théâtre Vidy-Lausanne

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.

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.

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.

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.’

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dates

Tue June 14 8:00 PM

Wed June 15 8:00 PM

Prices

  • default from € 27
  • HF Young € 20
  • CJP/student € 12

language & duration

  • French surtitles: English, Dutch

  • 1 hour 15 minutes (zonder pauze)

Meet the artist

After the performance on 15 June there will be a conversation with Nicolas Stemann, Mounir Margoum and Thierry Raynaud, led by Marten van der Gaag.


Background

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.

Meet the artist

After the performance on 15 June there will be a conversation with Nicolas Stemann, Mounir Margoum and Thierry Raynaud, led by Marten van der Gaag.


Background

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.

Critical homage

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.

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.


Text by Eric Vautrin, dramaturge of the Vidy-Lausanne Theatre

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  • © Philippe Weissbrodt

  • © Philippe Weissbrodt

  • © Philippe Weissbrodt

  • © Philippe Weissbrodt

credits

direction Nicolas Stemann based on the text of Kamel Daoud scenography Nicolas Stemann video Claudia Lehmann, Victor Hunziker costumes Marysol del Castillo sound Paloma Colombe, Victor Hunziker, Nicolas Stemann lights Jonathan O'Hear, Farid Boussad Deghou dramaturgy Katinka Deecke direction assistance Mathias Brossard cast Mounir Margoum, Thierry Raynaud production Théâtre Vidy-Lausanne, Schauspielhaus Zürich assistant director Diane Albasini stage technician Mathieu Pegoraro

This performance is made possible by