August 1968 in Oran (Algeria): foundation of the Théâtre de la Mer (Sea Theatre) and publication of the Charter that defined its nature, method and goals.
the time, in Algeria, all professional theaters were under the
ideological and financial supervision of the State. To produce without
it, the only possibility was to create a company supposedly "amateur".
This was the case. The company is named :
DE LA MER :
compagnie de recherche et de réalisations théâtrales
(THEATER OF THE SEA :
research and experimental theater company).
that professionals without exception choose the State theater, for
economic reasons, I hired young enthusiasts of this art, and I have
given them training under the premise : learning for realizing.
The troupe was self-managed administratively.
The plays were written by the method of collective
creation. In fact, given the lack of staff training, the writing was
led by Kadour Naimi. He had a professional training and took into
account comments and suggestions of the companions, and even people who
were invited to attend rehearsals.
It was a theater production inspired firstly by Algerian realities and,
secondly, by what it produced best in the world.
The topics, contents and forms should have in the same time a popular aspect and an innovative and experimental research.
The experimental aspect lay in the synthesis of various
inputs: 1) Algerian tradition of the storyteller (meddah), 2) Chinese
traditional theater, Japanese, Balinese and Vietnamese guerrilla
theater in the liberated areas of the country, 3) traditional African
theater of tje "Griots", 4) Western theater of ancient Greek,
European classical English and French, Contemporary Living theater of
The recipients were citizens who were excluded or disliked
the theater proposed by State troops (1): factories and rural workers,
pupils and students, intellectuals.
Places performances : following the "guerrilla theater" method specified in the Charter ,
the company went to the public it was possible to meet : in the
factories, farms, schools, universities, vocational training centers,
Set design : the shows were presented in a circular space inspired by the "halga"
(حلق, circle). This was the traditional way of troubadours ("meddah" in
Algerian) to present their show on the public square, surrounded by
spectators, in direct contact with them, and offering them the
opportunity to intervene during the show.
Forms of expression : works are conceived as a total theater ; they include text, song and dance.
Ticket price : based on the possibilities of the unemployed, the landless peasant, the worker and student.
Economic resources : self-fiinancement solely by
inputs from the audience. Their modesty was offset by : 1) a community
life of the members of the company, satisfying the basic necessities of
life ; 2) equal pay for all ; 3) an ingenious creativity to avoid
unnecessary spending on costumes, sets and lighting.
In the second and final phase of its existence, the troupe has been funded by the Ministry of Labour.
The shows of the Sea Theatre has been a success, both with the public and critic.
Since Oran, representations were widened on almost all the national territory.
Until the company was put unable to work and produce independently ethically.
The experiment lasted about three years, from August 1968 to 1972, but it marked its time (3).
(1) However, the productions of the Algerian playwright Abderrahmane Ould called Khaki, although in the State Theater of Oran, managed to propose unconventional works, appreciated by the audience.
With one significant exception : when the director of the National
State Theatre of Algiers, Mustapha Kateb, asked unexpectedly at Theater
of the Sea to present its first show, My body, your voice and thoughts,
in his establishment, he also agreed that all spectators were sitting
on the stage, in a circle around the actors, leaving in the dark and
unused the room chairs.
"An extraordinary team led by Kaddour Naimi, in Europe today, the
Theatre of the sea that deeply marked his time (late 1960s-early
1970s), through its research and its capacity to use in its staging,
new techniques including the use of bodily expression and gesture.
Original text : « une extraordinaire équipe dirigée par Kaddour Naimi,
en Europe, le Théâtre de la mer qui marqua profondément son époque
(fin des années 1960-début des années 1970), grâce à ses
recherches et à sa capacité d’utiliser, dans sa mise en scène,
de nouvelles techniques faisant notamment appel à l’expression
corporelle et gestuelle.» Ahmed Cheniki