Jean-Paul Schintu : Le Premier Homme 

An  adaptation of the work of Albert Camus performed by Jean-Paul Schintu
In partnership with the Theater and Dance office of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in  New York

The Project

Le Premier Homme is first of all a voice – a voice which comes to us with no mask, no artifice, spontaneous, natural, alternately serious and playful. In listening to the story, we are struck by the dazzling authenticity of this voice – the voice of Camus which is warm, thoughtful, and primitive. He flung out these words, this story – his story – sticking closely to what he considered to be his piercing, irreversible truth. 

This text, which he did not have to time to revise in the slightest, spilled out of him from an absolute necessity, and, as fate would have it, turned out to be the ultima verba.

It died at his side.  What a magnificent image of the author who died violently, with these protective and calming pages comprising the truth of his life, by his side. It was not a last will and testament, for there were no secrets to be revealed.  He simply and patiently told and witnessed what happened is this small corner of France : Algeria at the turn of the 20th century, with its cries, its anger, its passions, its smells, its tragedies… which no one talked about… but which he perceived…

Camus had already been working on the novel for several years when it was found in his suitcase at the scene of the fatal accident.  Camus wanted to tell the story of immigration through the father he never knew but also wanted it to be an homage to the population of Algeria – Christian, Jewish, Arab – which was being torn apart at the time he was telling the story.

We are in the presence of a rare, moving tale, which becomes all the much closer and more immediate because it is incomplete and unfinished. This is an autobiographical tale which allows us to discover the childhood and adolescence of the author at the turn of the 20th century in Algeria – the fraternity of the poor, the first damage done by colonialism, the French public school, the awakening of sensuality in the presence of nature – but with the Algerian war of the 1950s as a backdrop to the work while it was being written.

The novel is an irreplaceable testimony on man, his formative years and his essential truths. Camus’ uncomplicated writing becomes smooth, sensual and ethereal.

The Artist

Jean Paul Schintu was born in Algeria. He began his career in avant-garde theater companies in Lyon before signing up for courses by Antoine Vitez at the Conservatoire National d’Art Dramatique de Paris. For eight years he co-directed the Théâtre de l’escalier d’Or where he promoted contemporary authors. He has performed in more than fifty plays, from the classics (Molière, Marivaux, Musset, Maupassant, etc.) to the contemporary (Nathalie Sarraute, Paul Claudel, Victor Haïm, Michel Viala, Serge Ganzl, Agota Kristof, etc.), both in Paris, or abroad in a number of tours of the United States, Australia, India, the Middle East, North Africa, Central Europe and China.

The Performance (1 hour 15 min)

This is a reading-performance, performed naturally, as vibrantly and actively as if the character were rereading what he had just written to transform himself, to dramatize himself during the performance. The author identifies progressively with his subject.

The performance includes the most important excerpts from the work including the fraternity of the poor, the first damage done by colonialism and the awakening of sensuality in the presence of the surrounding nature.  It also includes the Algerian war of the 1950s, which provides the backdrop to the period when the work was being written. It is a work on text in the first person, like an autobiography in motion.

Jean-Paul Schintu also offers a theater workshop on French poetry and the theater of Albert Camus.

In the press

(on other performances by Jean-Paul Schintu)

A Promethean actor, Jean-Paul Schintu plays the protagonist Horla envisioned by Guy de Maupassant and all of his supernumeraries with extraordinary mastery.
Le Matin de Paris

A gripping voyage into Maupassant’s nightmares – to which he was finally to succumb – that Jean-Paul Schintu reproduces with accuracy and emotion.
Le Monde de l’Education

We are transported into the heart of madness which led Guy de Maupassant to his death. We see him come to life before our eyes in his most basic every-day life: eating, washing his feet, taking his walk, trying to escape from the demons surrounding him, fighting with this Horla who wants his death. The actor Jean-Paul Schintu melts into this character masterfully, showing us his illness and delirium.
The Times of India

The diary of an impending death, Le Horla, which has all the characteristics of Maupassant the man, is the day-to-day chronicle of a final neurosis. Before our very eyes, we see illness overtaking the patient, weakening him to the point of anemia. Like a wall gradually crumbling away, Jean-Paul Schintu truthfully and emotionally reproduces for us this progression from a healthy man to incurable dementia.
Le Figaroscope

Both colorful and fragile, Jean-Paul Schintu sincerely and ardently interprets Guillaume Apollinaire in an adaptation of his war-time love letters.

You have to hear the sound of the clarinet wafting out from the ruins of the village of Oradour, and the words of Primo Levi, spoken by Jean-Paul Schintu, haunted here by a fundamental text. The music and words take on a dimension which leads to the universal.
L’Echo de la Vienne

Energetic and stimulating, somewhere in between daily life and the supernatural, Jean-Paul Schintu takes his Prévert performance to France and abroad.  Mixed in with familiar poems, we find little jewels of texts which, although less well-known, shed an unexpected light on the poet.  
Le Télégramme de Brest

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  • Fondation Alliance Française
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  • Cultural Services of the French Embassy
  • Federation of Alliance Française USA

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