Aimé Césaire’s play, “A Tempest,” presented in Algiers

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ALGIERS- The dress rehearsal of the play “A Tempest,” a reflection on the concept of race, power, decolonization by famous writer Aimé Césaire, was presented Wednesday at the National Theatre Mahieddine-Bachtarzi (Tna), in Algiers, by “La troupe du Festin.”

A Tempest was originally written in 1969 in French by Aime Cesaire and translated into English in 1985 by Richard Miller. It is written as a postcolonial response to The Tempest by William Shakespeare. The story is the same: a big storm, an angry Duke who’s been usurped by his brother, all the devoted courtesans, and, of course, the natives. This play deals mostly with the natives, Ariel and Caliban. It is Cesaire’s comment on the colonization of the “New World.” He has many of the same ideas as C.L.R. James,and Franz Fanon, and he as inspired newer Caribbean writers like Michelle Cliff.

About the author: Aime Cesaire was born in Martinique in
1913. He is renown poet, playwright, and essayist. He began a movement called Negritude Modernisme involving the work of native Caribbean writers and artists. His work has influenced other writers as well as sociologists (see Cesaire link below), like Franz Fanon.

A Tempest is related to much of the other texts represented in this site in various ways. The trials of Caliban and Ariel are related to the oppression felt in No Telephone to Heaven (https://www.wmich.edu/dialogues/texts/notelephonetoheaven.html) by Clare (Note 1). Actually, Cartelli relates Clare to Miranda in her search for identity (Note 2). Clare decides not to use the
privilege her light skin affords her and embraces the “Caliban [or the Savage] within.” This makes one wonder which one Clare is closer to, Miranda or Caliban?

Cesaire’s obvious use of a strong, militant black man in Caliban shows similarities with C.L.R. James. Caliban’s denial of his name and opting to go with “X” instead, much like Malcolm X to
shed the name give to him by his master (Note 3). Cesaire hands this one to us thought as if we aren’t smart enough to understand his allusion. He could have been a little less heavy-handed.

This play is obviously connected to Shakespeare’s The Tempest which is seen more mainstream than perhaps this play would be. This would make it easier to pull the ideas A Tempest presents,
which is what I am doing in my English class where we are reading The Tempest as their exposure to Shakespeare in English 2 at Portage Community High School. We will be exploring the differences between the two. Teenagers’ attitudes about it give me more hope.

wmich.edu

 

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