Caligula

Playwright: Albert Camus
Adaptation: Shabyashachi Deb
Design & Direction: Ashim Das
First Staged on: 26th November,2015 at Alliance Française Chittagong.


Synopsis of the Play

Camus and Caligula….

What shall it profit a man, if he should gain the whole world and lose his own soul....?

Caligula might be mistaken at first for a historical play. The main character is lifted from history and many of Caligula’s excesses in the play come straight out of Suetonius’s first century work Lives of the Twelve Caesars. When the play is carefully read and put into the context of Albert Camus’s other work, however, its historical content is revealed to be merely a vehicle for his philosophical concerns. Actor and producer for the theatrical company L’ Equipe Camus, more specifically uses the figure of Caligula to explore the apparent “absurdity” of human existence. Some critics of the time thought it had more life and irony than any of the other plays. Indeed, irony and the concept of life itself make Caligula a very interesting play. Camus does not attempt to prove the validity of the absurdist viewpoint. Rather, he accepts it as a starting point for his explorations of how people live and how they ought to live. With Caligula, Camus sought to portray the results of a powerful individual pursuing nihilism to its ultimate conclusion.

Camus first pondered the idea of writing a play about the ill-fated Roman Emperor Caligula in 1935 and by 1938 he had finished a first draft which comprised three acts. During 1940 he continued to revise Caligula while at the same time writing novel The Outsider and The Myth of Sisyphus. By 1941 all three works were completed.

About the Playwright

Albert Camus (7 November 1913 – 4 January 1960) was a French philosopher, author, and journalist. His views contributed to the rise of the philosophy known as absurdism. He wrote in his essay The Rebel that his whole life was devoted to opposing the philosophy of nihilism while still delving deeply into individual freedom. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1957.

Albert Camus was of Algerian origin and much of his political perspective would have been linked to the way Algeria was treated by the French. The Algerian crisis ended in 1963 three years after Camus' death in a car accident. Camus was one of the playwrights in a movement of the 1950s and 1960s known as the Theatre of the Absurd.

In 1936, with the help of some friends, Camus founded Theatre du Travail (Workers’ Theatre), an avant-garde dramatic group, renamed Theatre de l’Equipe in 1937. He was an actor and producer for that theatrical company.

Camus completed Caligula when he was 25. The work itself is about cruelty and the arbitrary exercise of power. Written and completed in 1941 and first performed in 1945, no-one was left with any doubt of the influences and inferences of the play. Consider the time of writing. The world had witnessed dictators from both ends of the political spectrum espousing and putting into practice fantastic ideological plans. Mussolini bragged about a building a "New Rome"; Hilter guaranteed an "Aryan" empire; Stalin assured the necessity of his purges in the bringing about of a communist utopia.

Camus did not consider himself to be a follower of the existentialist ideology despite usually being classified as a follower of it, even in his lifetime. In a 1945 interview, Camus rejected any ideological associations: "No, I am not an existentialist. Sartre and I are always surprised to see our names linked...”

On Stage

Nishigandha Das Gupta as  Operator, Waitress, Poet / Scipio

Ashrafa Hossain / Aabir Mandal as Operator, Lepidus, Poet

Azmal Hossen Nobin as Operator, Wife of Mucius, Guard

Salah Uddin Mahmud as Operator, Patricius, Poet

Rumal Barua as Senectus

Sanwar Hossain Sumon as  Octavius

Prem pathak as Mereia, Poet, Knight, GuardM.

Abu Abdullah Saikat as Mucius, Knight, Poet

Abdul Kader Jitu as Cherea

Khadijatul Kubra Rishika as Operator, Waitress, Poet / Scipio

Md. Mubidur Rahman Sujat as Caligula

Kamal Barua as Halicon, Poet, Guard

Poly Chowdhury Boby /Nazia Tabassum Nancy as  Caesonia

Nancy / Anwesha Das as Waitress, Poet

Off Stage

Set, Light, Costume & Music Design: Ashim Das

Choreography: Tilottoma Sengupta

Technical Assistance: Amllan Barua

Props Assistance: Rishika, Saikat

Costume Assistance: Boby, Nishi, Sumon

Make-Up: Tapos Chakraborty/Shahee noor Sarwar

Music Control: Amllan Barua

Props & Set Making: Rumal, Abir, Amllan & Fameans

Carpenter: Abdul Malek

FOH: Famean

Production Coordinator: Showmen Rudra, Hasibul Alam