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Drama

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Caligula

by Albert Camus

Aus dem Französischen von Uli Aumüller. Altersempfehlung: Ab 16 Jahren

“This boy loved literature too much. An artist as Emperor, don’t even think about it!” The nobleman Cherea is concerned when Caligula disappears for several days following the death of his sister and lover Drusilla. Camus’ poetic vision of this historical Roman autocrat, renowned for his cruelty and capriciousness, gives him a contemporary attitude to art: on his return Caligula is determined to stage “the most beautiful of all plays” in which he will be both director and lead actor. Rome will become a stage, the court both involuntary extras in and the audience of his provocations and excesses: he disinherits, murders and rapes. The senators are beside themselves: What is motivating Caligula to carry out these deeds? Losing his lover, depression or sheer insanity? He himself regards his “very strange tragedy” as an educational drama which will instruct his people in the futility of all meaning. Only in seeking the impossible can he be a free creator. But can a state be run according to the rules of art? The patricians are already arming themselves for a coup but the boundaries of illusion and reality have long since become blurred. Murdering the tyrant increasingly appears to mean not the end of the terror but the carefully staged finale of the work of art which is Caligula’s life.

Albert Camus was 26 years old in 1939 when he wrote this play, which subsequently received its world premiere in Paris in 1945. He disputed the notion that his ‘Caligula’ was intended as a lampoon representing the frustrated painter Hitler – as contemporary audiences inferred – and called it a “tragedy of awareness” though explicitly not of a philosophical kind.  As puzzling as this resistance to ideology may have seemed at the time, it appears eminently plausible today. When power turns out to be essentially a question of stage management and manipulation, new measures of good and evil are required.

Italian director Antonio Latella, who introduced himself to Basel in 2015/2016 with his productions of ‘Oedipus’ after Sophocles and ‘The Kindly Ones’ after the novel by Jonathan Littell, directs this modern classic.

Preisstufe IV Schauspielhaus (von 30.– bis 60.–)

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