Les Carnets d’Albert Camus is a spiritual journey between Algiers and Paris in the 40s and 50s. Taken by the sounds of wind howling, birds chirping, and piano playing, Stéphane Olivié Bisson who plays Albert Camus opens his heart and thoughts standing alone in front of the audience, in between three chairs.
With a rectangle of white pebbles in the middle of the stage, he takes us first to a beach in Algiers, his hometown. Barefoot, he walks away leaving white footprints on the black floor. The beach rapidly becomes his father’s grave before becoming the French capital’s paved streets. We quietly follow his footsteps through this journey enlightened by his never ending curiosity and love for the beauty of the world.
As with French artist Louise Bourgeois or French fashion designer Jacquemus, the show could not be complete without Camus talking about his relationship with his mother: “I loved my mom with despair,” he writes.
By mentioning intellectuals, writers and politicians, such as Nietzsche, Lou Andreas Salomé, Pavese, Sartre, Tolstoy, and DeGaulle, Camus’ writing brings us back in time. Swiftly moving from chair to chair, he goes from being a beloved son, to an absent father and husband, to a public figure, winning the Nobel Prize in 1957 – a prize he felt he didn’t earn. “I need to write like I need to swim,” he also explains his relationship with his art.
Even though Camus wrote himself in his journal that what he has to say is more important than who he is, the original text being so powerful and beautiful, the silly grin on the performer’s face and the lack of profoundness in his voice seems out of place in the skin of such an incredible sensitive writer.