Albert Camus Directing A Play In 1956: William Faulkner- Requiem for a Nun (1951)


Albert Camus directing actors Catherine Sellers and Marc Cassot in his stage adaptation of William Faulkner’s novel Requiem for a Nun.

“The French philosopher Albert Camus is better known for his works of philosophical absurdism than for his work in the theatre, but according to an essay in the December 1960 issue of Theatre Arts, the theatre was Camus’s foremost love. ‘Why do I work in the theatre?’ he asks in the first line. ‘[S]imply because the theatre is one of the places in the world in which I am happy.’ Many consumers of Camus’s work would point to 1935 as the origin of his career in the theatre, the year he founded Théâtre du Travail (Worker’s Theatre). Comprised of left-wing intellectuals who flirted with Communism, the troupe was renamed Théâtre de l’Equipe (Theatre of the Team) in 1937. The troupe collectively wrote Révolte dans les Asturies and produced plays by Synge, Gide, Malraux, and Dostoevsky. Their mission was to write and produce plays that promoted socialism. … He spent the 1940s as a teacher and a political advocate for the European Federalist Movement, and later, the Revolutionary Union Movement, which he founded. He made time to write at least three plays during that decade: Le Malentendu (The Misunderstanding), L’État de Siège (The State of Siege), and Les Justes (The Righteous). Le Malentendu experiments with his philosophy of the Absurd, while the latter two betray Camus’s lifelong convictions to oppose totalitarianism and explore the grayer moralities of terrorism. In the 1950s, Camus turned to dramatic adaptation. He translated and adapted William Faulkner’s Requiem for a Nun and Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s The Possessed for the French stage. The latter was a critical and popular success, and an enormous artistic undertaking. The production required thirty-three actors and seven sets and lasted more than four hours. Camus hired Mayo, a friend who had illustrated The Stranger, to design and paint the sets. Camus died in a car accident in January 1960, eleven months before Theatre Arts published his essay ‘Why I Work in the Theatre.’ The essay is a translated excerpt from a television script written by Camus and originally published in le Centre Dramatique de l’Est, Strasbourg’s quarterly magazine. The essay reads much like his philosophical treatises—in turns amusing and thoughtful, and occasionally narcissistic. Throughout it he describes the qualities of theatremaking that continuously drew him to the theatre despite having greater successes as an essayist and novelist. …”
HowlRound Theatre Commons: Why I Work in Theatre
W – Requiem for a Nun (play), W – Temple Drake
Adaptations and Hollywood Films
W – William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun, amazon

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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