Dr. Mark Amerasinghe

Dr. Mark Amerasinghe

Monday, May 12, 2014

Dr. Mark Amerasinghe sings, 1983 and 1997,Colombo, Sri Lanka.


Dr. Mark Amerasinghe singing with Prof.Valentine Basnayake/Tanya Ekanayake at the piano.
Foggy foggy dew.
Irish eyes.
Thestar of the County Down.
Galway Bay
Eriskay Love Lilt.
Linden Lee.
Coming through the rye.
Rose of Tralee.
Beautiful Dreamer.
Curly headed Baby.
Some enchanted evening.
Stormy weather.
Short’nin bread. 
Slection of Schubert
                Der Neuglerige.
                Der Lindenbaum.
The Holy City.
La Spagnola.

Please click on the web-link below to hear the performance:-

Friday, May 9, 2014

'Looking back in love', a Monodrama by Dr. Mark Amerasinghe.

Orpheus- KAB/PRESS
Mark Amerasinghe’s eleventh monodrama
‘Look Back in Love’
, Mark Amerasinghe presents,  a monodrama ; an adaptation of his   translation of Jean Cocteau’s original script of the black and white French film Orphée (screened in 1950) .
 In Cocteau’s modern version ,while the young lovers finally rejoin each other to live in their accustomed world,  Orpheus is a celebrated poet, hated by the avant-garde and feminists of the day; and Other World characters, not mentioned in the original legend, are introduced.  Chief among these are an agent of Death, the Princess, who loves Orpheus, her chief aid, Heurtebise, in love with Eurydice and a young poet, Cegeste being promoted by the avante garde as challenger to Orpheus.  
The sorceress-like Princess, accompanied by her aides, flits in and out of this world through solid mirrors, in pursuit of the handsome Orpheus .
Cocteau gives a distinct 1950’s flavour to this ancient tale by introducing ‘talking’ cars, leather-jacketed assassins on high-speed motorcycles, revolvers and machine guns. Throughout the production, there prevails an overarching manipulation of space-time and an all-pervading atmosphere of mystery and magic – a modern Wonder-land!  

Jean Cocteau

Jean Cocteau (1889-1963) was one of the most unconventional, versatile, controversial (his detractors probably just fell short of his many admirers) and universally acclaimed creative artists of the 20th century. His artistic output was quite astounding.

In addition to the creative activities mentioned, he did a stint as a boxing manager and in WW2 had been an ambulance driver with the Red Cross. Although he was involved in so many fields of creative expression, Cocteau considered himself primarily, a poet. His detractors claimed that he dabbled in so many artistic fields that he was master of none! Leading a Bohemian life style, he was often referred to in artistic circles as the ‘Frivolous Prince’ a title of a work published at the age of 22.

Among his associates and friends were such prominent figures as Marcel Proust, Andre Gide, the poet Guillame Apollinaire, Pablo Picasso,  Jean Marais ( well known actor and  steady collaborator - believed to be his lover), the ballet master Sergei Diaghilev and the famous French singer, Edith Piaf who in 1940 appeared in one of his one-act plays, ‘Le Bel Indifferent.[’ It is believed that the universally acclaimed film ‘Orpheus’ (1950) was produced with the specific intention of featuring Jean Marais as the chief protagonist. Marais also appeared in another of his well-known films, ‘Beauty and the Beast’. Cocteau directed his own films, sometimes playing a role as well. [One of his closest friends was the French poet, Raymond Radiguet with whom (according to some) he was romantically involved, until Radiguet’s sudden death in 1923. Around the time of Radiguet’s death, Cocteau went through a period of opium addiction from which he succeeded in freeing himself. One of his most famous works ‘Les Enfants Terribles’ was written during this period. The experiences he went through during this period and his ‘escape’from the habit are recounted in ‘Opium, Diary of an Addict’. Although many considered him an important exponent of Surrealism, Cocteau himself denied any involvement with the movement.]

In 1963, at the age of 74, this undoubtedly unique, highly controversial, talented creative artist, died of a sudden heart attack, believed to have been brought about on his receiving news of the death of his close friend Edith Piaf.

Among numerous other honours, Jean Cocteau was a member of the Academie Francaise and The Royal Academy of Belgium, Commander of the Legion of Honour, Honorary President of the Cannes Film Festival and President of the Jazz Academy

Friday, May 2, 2014


Click on web-link below to see the Part A of the dramatic monologue performed by Dr.Mark Amerasinghe:-


To see Part B of the Dramatic Monologue. Click on the web-link below:-


Authored by:-
GABRIEL GARCIA MARQUEZ (Affectionately known as ‘Gabo’}
Gabriel Garcia Marquez, a Colombian by birth, was studying law which he abandoned for journalism. His first writings were as a journalist. He then went on to writing short stories and film scripts. He finally went on to producing major works of fiction which made him a much read and world-famous writer of fiction. In 1982 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature.
He had such an impact on the reading public all over the world, that when he passed away at the age of 87 in April this year (2014) the Colombian President said, “He was the greatest Colombian that ever lived”.
He and Fidel Castro were friends; an acquaintance he described as an ‘intellectual friendship’
His best known works are, One Hundred Years of Solitude, The Autumn of the Patriarch and Love in the Time of Cholera
Among lovers of literature his name will always be associated with the two words; ‘magical realism’, a style of writing in which the prevalent magic and superstition were woven into the fabric of the everyday life of the people of the Caribbean.
Salmon Rushdie writing on the occasion of his death commenting on ‘magical realism’, stated “the critical aspect that needs emphasis, is the word realism.”

The Chronicle here presented is probably his slimmest volume. A work, which however, is certainly not slim in the powerful impact it has on readers, including the presenter of this monologue.

This tale of murder, in the name of honour, is told by a narrator (a close associate of the murder victim),who twenty years after the crime opens his own investigation into that premeditated, brutal murder, which occurred in open daylight, in the square, with the whole town looking on.
About this work, a well-known critic says,’ the story unfolds in an inverted fashion. Instead of moving forwards, the plot moves backwards’. There is no question of ‘who did it’? The names of the victim and that of his murderers are revealed at the very beginning.
That the brothers Vicario were planning to kill Santiago Nasar was known, well in advance, to the whole town; except for Santiago Nasar and his mother. Yet not a finger was raised to avert this senseless murder.
The narrator talks to anyone he believes could shed light on what really happened before and during this brutal act, so that he could try to answer a question that has haunted him ever since that fateful day. The question is ‘Who really killed Santiago Nasar’?

Mark Amerasinghe
Speaks of the problem of writing the script for ‘The chronicle’
'I had read Garcia Marquez’s ‘Chronicle of a Death Foretold’ in translation from the Spanish into English and was greatly impressed by this novella. By the time I read this work I had already translated four French works into English and scripted and presented them as monodramas. I felt that the ‘Chronicle’ was an ideal work to be presented similarly. In the monodramas I had presented I had always translated the French work myself(although English translations were available) because I always had the very strong belief that no translation could match the original, in conveying the full essence of the latter, and translating the work myself compelled me to delve deep into the heart of the original work.
In this case I was in no position to translate the original because I did not know the Spanish language. While an English translation was available, I did not want to use it, because there is very little relationship between English and Spanish. So, I thought, I could get closer home by translating the French version which would be more closely related to the Spanish version of the work, into English and making my first rough draft from this, using the practised techniques explained in my article on the monodrama.
Now with dictionary in hand I went through the original Spanish version paying particular attention to those parts I had included in the script. I am aware that this falls short of my usual aim, but I was so keen on presenting this work, that I had to resort to a ‘ruse’.
So here is the script I have come up with'.

Santiago Nasar:The Murder Victim
Bayardo San Roman: The Cheated Bridegroom
Angela Vicario: The Discarded Bride
Pablo and Pedro Vicario: The Avenging Twins, Brothers of Angela Vicario
Pura Vicario: Angela’s Mother
Prudentia Cotes: Pablo Vicario’s fiancée
Clotilda Armenta: Proprietess of provisions store
Maria Alexandrea Cervantes: Proprietess of the House of Mercy
Faustino Santos: Butcher
Victoria Guzman: Cook in Santiago Nasar’s household
Divina Flor: The cook’s daughter
Placida Lenora: Santiago Nasar’s Mother
Flora Miguel: Santiago’s fiancée
Nahir Miguel: Flora’s father
Cristo Bedoya: Santiago’s closest friend
The Narrator: Close friend of Santiago
Yamal Shauim, Indalecio Pardo: Friends of Santiago
Colonel Lazaro Aponte: Mayor
Fr Armador: The Local Priest
Margot: The Narrator’s Sister
Poncho Lanao: Neighbour of Santiago
Winifreda Marquez: Narrator’s Aunt
Other townsfolk


 Buenas noches y gracias senors y senoras! It is good of you to have turned up here on the square, at such short notice, to meet me before I leave . You all know why I came back to this town after over twenty years.  I had to. I had to find out what really happened on that  Monday.    Each one of us knows something , a little fragment maybe, a fragment of direct experience or just something we’ve heard from others. But no one, not one of us has the full picture. And that has been my aim over the years: to piece together those fragments of our remembrances, dimmed perhaps or yet still strikingly vivid, fractured maybe, but yet sharp enough to impinge upon the story, hopefully complete, that I had to write.

 I have asked you to gather here this evening, on this square, in the very theatre in which we all sat or stood and watched the final act of that drama, so that I could present to you my completed chronicle of that death foretold.


The Stalking

The killing of Santiago Nasar will for long remain the most celebrated murder of our time, a murder which followed directly upon the most celebrated wedding our town had ever witnessed; the wedding of Bayardo San Román and Ángela Vicario.  Never has this town seen a death more foretold. Never has there been a death more tragic and more avoidable. Never have so many people been so privy to the imminence of an impending tragedy, and yet, been so helpless to deflect the course of events.

 A few hours after that much talked of wedding had been celebrated in all its grandeur and exaggerated revelry,  Bayardo San Román returned his wife Angela Vicario to her parents, on the grounds that she was not a virgin.

We all knew, hours before the deed, that the Vicario brothers were waiting to kill Santiago Nasar, because it was he, their sister said, who had been responsible for the loss of her virginity. Only two people were ignorant, until the last moment, of the looming tragedy: Santiago Nasar and his mother Placida Linero.

 . Santiago Nasar,  was a happy-go-lucky, peace loving and  good-hearted fellow. Who was privileged to have, at the early age of 21, a fortune of his own. He loved parties, and the greatest joy he experienced on the eve of his death was in calculating the expenses of that unforgettable wedding.

Santiago Nasar was also a full-blooded young man who never let up an opportunity of laying his roving and carnivorous hands on the freshly blossomed out Divina Flor, daughter of Victoria Guzman, the cook. That Monday morning, the morning he was killed, as she opened the door for him to leave the house after drinking his coffee, and stepped aside to let him pass, he ‘grabbed my whole lolly-pop’, she told me. ‘He always did, when he caught me alone in the house.’
Well, that was Santiago Nasar!

Bayardo San Román, the man who returned his wife on the very night of his wedding, first arrived  here just six months before the wedding.    While he was more than a man of consequence, Angela Vicario was the youngest in a family of modest means, and the prettiest of the four Vicario girls. The family, were naturally elated when the wealthy Bayardo San Román wanted to marry the pretty Angela, with the exception of her brother Pedro, who laid down one condition.  Bayardo San Roman must come clean, as to who he was; a matter over which there was considerable and often wild speculation.  Bayardo San Roman put an end to all conjecture, in a very simple manner. He brought in his whole family. The trump card was the father: General Petronio San Román, hero of the civil wars of the last century. It sufficed for him to appear, for everyone to understand that Bayardo San Román was going to marry whomever he wished.

 At Bayardo San Roman’s insistence the engagement lasted only four months.’ One evening he asked me what house I would like most.’ Angela Vicario told me. ‘And I replied, without really knowing why, that the most beautiful house in the place was the villa of the widower Xious,’ where that good man had enjoyed many an hour of married bliss. Immediately after, Bayardo San Roman acquired the house.

On the Sunday, they got married, the official wedding celebrations were over by six in the evening, when all the guests of honour left. A little later, the young couple appeared in their open car. After joining the crowd in drinking and dancing, Bayardo San Roman finally enjoined everybody to continue drinking and dancing to their hearts’ content, all at his expense, and whisked his terrified bride off towards the house of his dreams, where the widower Xious had found so much happiness.

  No one would have thought, nor would anyone have ever said, that Angela Vicario was not a virgin. She had not known any other fiancé, and she had grown up surrounded by her two elder sisters and under the uncompromising, hard, steel-like authority of her mother.  Her two close confidantes had reassured her, by convincing her that most men were so scared on their honeymoon, that they were incapable of doing anything without assistance from their partner. ‘They believed only what they saw on the sheet’, they said to her. And they had taught her the tricks of experienced women, so that she could feign the loss of her innocence, and put out to sun in the patio of her new home, on the first morning as a newly wed, the linen sheet bearing the stain of honour.

Pura Vicario told my mother that, on the night of the wedding, she had gone to bed at about 11pm   She was dead to the world when there had been a rapping on the door. ‘Three slow knocks portended evil’ she said . She opened the door without putting on the light so as not to awaken anyone else and recognized, in the dim light of the street lamp, Bayardo San Roman in his silk shirt all unbuttoned and his fancy pants held up by braces.  Angela Vicario was standing in the shadows, although her mother saw her only when Bayardo San Roman grabbed her by the arm and dragged her into the light. Her satin dress was ripped to shreds and she was wrapped in a bath towel. Pura Vicario thought that they had plunged off the road in their car and that they were dead. ‘Holy Mother of God’ she cried out in terror. ‘Speak to me if you are you still of this world’?

Bayardo San Roman did not enter, but without uttering a word he gently pushed his wife into the house. He then kissed Pura Vicario on the cheek, and in a deeply dejected tone of voice blended with an intense tenderness, said to her, ‘Thank you for everything mother. You are a saint’.  ‘All I remember’, Angela Vicario said to me, ‘is that mother grabbed me by the hair in one hand and with the other thrashed me in such a fury, that I believed she was going to kill me’.

Her brothers returned home a little before 3am, summoned away urgently from the revelry at Maria Alexandrina Cervante’s House of Mercy, where along with some others, they had been singing and drinking with Santiago Nasar and his companions, five hours before killing him. They found Angela Vicario prostrate on the dining room couch, her face of a violet hue, all bruised by blows, but with not a tear being shed anymore. Pedro Vicario the more determined of the  brothers had lifted her up by the waist and sat her up on the dining table.’ So then?’ he yelled, shaking with rage, ‘Who was it? Tell us!’ She had hardly hesitated.  She dipped into the dim recesses of her mind searching for the name  and spotted it at first glance from among all the names that she could confound it with.

‘Santiago Nasar’, she said.

Pedro and Pablo Vicario were twins. They were twenty-four years old and they resembled each other so much that it was almost impossible to tell one from the other.  After their sister had revealed the name of the perpetrator of the deed that had dishonoured the family name, the twins had gone to the pigsty where the butchers’ knives were kept and selected two of the best. They wrapped them up in some rags and went to the meat market to sharpen them, as the first stalls were just opening up. Twenty-one people declared that they had heard every word of the threats uttered by them, and they were all agreed that the twins had spoken out about their plans, without restraint, with the sole intention of being heard.

However they enjoyed such a firm reputation of being good fellows that no one took their threats seriously. But, Faustino Santos, a fellow butcher, who had seen them come into the meat market at three-twenty,  was puzzled that they’d come in on a Monday instead of on Friday, as they usually did, and  he had expressed his misgivings to a policeman, now dead, who came by a little later to buy a pound of liver for the mayor’s breakfast.  

The twins came in to Clotilde Amenta’s store with their sharpened knives  at four-ten.  They drank two bottles of cane brandy, the first one standing and in two long swigs, the second, more slowly and seated down, with their eyes riveted on Placida Linero’s house, across the pavement opposite, where the windows remained unlit. The largest window on the balcony was that of Santiago Nasar’s bedroom. To a question Clotilde Amenta posed to them, ‘Why do you want to kill Santiago Nasar so early in the morning?’ Pedro Vicario answered, ‘He knows why. He knows’.

While the twins were waiting for him to kill him, Santiago Nasar, when we had wound up  carousing at Maria Alexandrina Cervante’s place, suggested at around 4am, that we take the musicians on a round of serenades and continue the wedding celebrations on our own, climbing up the hill to the widower Xious’ place. Not only did we serenade under the windows of the newly weds, but we lit fireworks and shot off rockets in the garden, but did not notice the slightest sign of life from within the house. It never occurred to us that the place was deserted, particularly since the car, with the hood still down, was parked out on the front porch.  Bayardo San Roman had left on foot for the dishonoured bride’s parents’ home, so that the noise of the car engine would not prematurely announce his misfortune. He was back there alone, with the lights switched off, in the once happy marital home of the widower Xius.

Clotilde Armenta had left the store for a while, to express her fears about the twins to her husband, and when she returned, she found them engaged in a conversation with Leandro Pornoy, the police officer. She did not hear what was said, but assumed, from the manner in which he looked at their knives as he left, that they had told him about their plans.

Colonel Lazaro Aponte retired colonel of the military academy and mayor of the town over the last eleven years, had got up a little before 4 o’clock and had finished shaving when Officer Leandro Pornoy told him about the twins intentions.  While he was having his breakfast, his wife in great excitement, related how Bayardo San Roman had returned his wife to her parents. ‘Good Lord, what will the bishop think?’: he said mockingly. However, before finishing his meal, he recalled what his orderly had said, put two and two together and established immediately the connection between the two pieces of the riddle. He then set off towards the square along the street leading to the new docks where the houses were just beginning to get excited over the arrival of the bishop. ‘I remember distinctly,’ he said to me. ‘It was almost 5 o’clock’

He found the brothers in Clotilde Armenta’s store.  He didn’t even question them about their plans. He merely confiscated their knives and packed them off to bed.  ‘Just think of it. What will the bishop say if he were to find you in this state?’  The twins left.

 Clotilde Armenta expressed her disappointment at the Colonel’s casual attitude. Defending his strategy in dealing with the brothers, he showed her the two knives as a final proof. ‘They have nothing with which to kill anyone now’, he said.  ‘It is not for that’ said Clotilde Armenta. ‘It is to free those poor boys from the terrible obligation that had fallen upon them’. She had sensed it. She was quite certain that the brothers Vicario were less anxious to execute their sentence, than to find someone who would do them the favour of preventing them from acting. But Colonel Aponte was at peace with his own soul.

After the Mayor had confiscated their knives, the twins collected replacements from the porcherie and went out through the pigpen gate, the unwrapped knives in their hands.  The twins were in the habit of dropping in at the house of Prudentia Cotes, Pablo Vicario’s fiancée, for early morning coffee. That day the coffee was not yet ready. ‘We’ll have the coffee later’ Pablo Vicario said. ‘Just now we have no time to lose.’ ‘I can well imagine, my children’,  Prudencia’s mother said to them, beaming with pride. ‘ A debt of honour does not wait.

Prudencia Cotes – now in the full bloom of adolescence- entered the kitchen with a pile of old newspapers to re-kindle the fire. They wrapped up the knives in some sheets they took off her.  ‘I knew what they were hatching’, she said to me, ‘and not only was I in full agreement with them, but I would have refused to marry Pablo if he had shirked his manly duty.’

Faustino Santos, the butcher, could not understand what was happening, when they came into the meat marked once again, to sharpen knives, which he thought, they had already sharpend, and they began, once again, shouting out loud, that they were going to eviscerate Santiago Nasar.’ 

When they returned to Clotilde Armenta’s store, with the second set of knives, sharpened and wrapped in newspaper it was close upon 5.30. On this second occasion however, Clotilde Armenta noticed, from the time they came in, that they seemed to be less determined than before. She thought of cooling of further cooling off their ardour, and served them a bottle of rum with the hope of knocking them out completely into a drunken stupor. They drank the bottle slowly and in silence, contemplating, with the dumb air of early risers, the unlit window of the house opposite.

The brothers Vicario never saw that window light up, although Santiago Nasar had returned home at 4.20. Victoria Guzman was tending the coffeepot on the stove as he passed through the kitchen towards the interior of the house. ‘Whitey’, she called out, ‘  coffee will be ready soon’. ‘I’ll have some later. Tell Divina Flor to wake me up at 5.30 and at the same time bring me a clean change of clothes, like the ones I am now wearing’ Since the light on the stairs had been on throughout the night, there was no need to switch on any light for him to reach his room. He threw himself on his bed in the darkness, fully dressed.

Just after he went to bed, Victoria Guzman received Clotilde Armenta’s message sent through the beggar woman. At 5.30, she went up to his bedroom herself, with a linen suit, to wake him up, without sending Divina Flor, since she never missed an opportunity of saving her daughter from the clutches of the senor. But she also missed the opportunity of conveying to him  Clotilde Armenta’s warning message.

 When Santiago Nasser left his home it had already struck six, the street lights were still on, and several people were running towards the docks, urged on by the bellowing from the bishop’s boat.  Someone, never identified, had slipped a note within an envelope under the closed door, warning Santiago Nasser that the twins were waiting to kill him, and revealing, in addition to the place, the reasons and certain very precise details of the plot. The message was lying there, on the floor, when Santiago Nasser had left, but he had not spotted it; nor had Divina Flor, who had opened the door for him.

Victoria Guzman, for her part, had stated quite categorically that neither she nor her daughter had any idea, when Santiago Nasar left the house, that the twins were waiting to kill him. But with the passage of time, she admitted that both of them were not unaware of what was about to happen, when he entered the kitchen to drink his coffee, a little after 5.30 that morning. ‘I’d heard about it from a woman who had come begging for a little milk. I did not warn him because I thought that these were the boastful words of drunkards,’ she said to me. However,  Divina Flor confessed to me, during the course of a visit I made after her mother’s death, that her mother had not said a thing to Santiago Nasser because, in her heart of hearts, she wished him dead. 

 The only place open on the square, at the time Santiago Nasar left home, was Clotilde Armenta’s store, where the two men who had threatened to kill him, after nearly three hours of watching and waiting, had just dosed off in their chairs, their knives wrapped in newspaper held against their breasts. Clotilde Armenta held her breath so as not to awaken them, but the moment Santiago Nasar started crossing the square, they woke up and watched him intently, more with  pity than with anger.

The brothers Vicario had made known their plans to more than a dozen people who had come to buy milk at the store, and these early customers  had spread the news all over the town before 6 o’clock. It seemed impossible to Clotilde Armenta that nothing was known in the house just opposite. She had thought that Santiago Nasar was not in the house because she, like the twins, had not seen his bedroom light; and she told everyone she served to warn him when they ran into him. She even informed Fr Amador.  After 4 o’clock, seeing Placida Linero’s kitchen lights, she sent a final urgent message through the beggar woman. Victoria Guzman took that message.

As a result of the repeated, loud pronouncements of the twins and the word spread by Clotilde Armenta’s early customers, by and large, those who were on the docks knew that the brothers were going to kill Santiago Nasser. Don Lazaro Aponte preening himself on his successful handling of the twins, had greeted Santiago Nasar with a wave of the hand. ‘I had good reason to believe that he was no longer exposed to risk’ he said to me. Neither was Fr.Amador worried. ‘When I saw him safe and sound, I thought that it had all been one of those practical jokes in bad taste.’ No one had asked themselves whether Santiago Nasser himself had been alerted, because it seemed impossible to anyone that he hadn’t been.

My sister Margot was one of the few people who still did not know that the twins were waiting to kill Santiago Nasar.  She had been with him on the docks and invited him to join us at breakfast at our home, where my mother was in the process of making manioc fritters that morning. ‘I’ll change and join you’ he said. It was then he realized that he’d forgotten and left his watch on his bedside table. ‘What’s the time’? It was a twenty-five minutes after six.  ‘I shall be with you in fifteen minutes’, he said to my sister. She insisted that he go along with her at once, since breakfast was already on the table.  .Santiago Nasar persuaded her to go along ahead, while he changed into his riding clothes. He took his leave with a wave of his hand,  and took off towards the square, arm in arm with Cristo Bedoya, his closest friend and constant companion. That was the last time she saw him alive.

After the bishop had passed on, without setting foot on our soil, the other news, suppressed until then, burst forth in all its scandalous nature. It was only then, after she had already invited Santiago Nasar for breakfast, and he had waved her goodbye, that my sister Margot had learned about the marital disaster and its impending dire consequences. ‘No one,’ she said,  ‘could explain how the unfortunate Santiago Nasser had ended up by being embroiled in such a mishap. He and Angela Vicario had never been seen together, leave aside being seeing together alone’. There was one certainty though. Angela Vicario’s brothers were waiting to kill Santiago Nasar.

Clotilde Armenta told me that she gave up all hope when Fr Amador finally went his way passing her house, without stopping. ‘I thought he had not received my message’, she said. However, Fr Amador confessed to me many years later, when he had retired from the world into the shadows of the Rest Home at Calafell, that he had received Clotilde Armenta’s message, and others even more insistent, while he was preparing to go to the docks. ‘Truth is, I just didn’t know how to act’, he told me. ‘At first, I thought it was no concern of mine and merely a matter for the civil authorities, but then I resolved to say something to Placida Linero in passing. However, in crossing the square, it slipped my mind completely. You must understand’, he said to me: ‘the bishop was coming on that unfortunate day. God, will understand ’. When the crime occurred, he felt so desperate and so disgusted with himself that the only thing that occurred to him was to order the sounding of the fire alarm.

My sister,after receiving the shocking news,  returned home from the docks, gritting her teeth, to prevent herself from bursting into tears. My mother was in the dining room laying the table.  She had laid an extra place. ‘That’s for Santiago Nasar. I’d heard that you had invited him.’ ‘Take it away’, my sister blurted out.

And then she told my mother what had happened. Even before hearing the end of the story, my mother was already on the street. She was dragging along my brother Jaimie, then just seven, who was ordered by my father to go along with her as she raced to inform Placida Linero of the urgent danger. She sped along, until the moment when someone running in the opposite direction took pity on her disturbed state. ‘Don’t bother yourself anymore, Luisa Santiaga. They’ve already killed him.’

The Killing
This whole tragedy was, throughout its unfolding, dominated by the vagaries of time and bedeviled by the interplay of chance and fatal coincidence. Cristo Bedoya, who went on to become a surgeon of repute, could never explain why, he, after we had finished carousing with Santiago Nasar,  had given in to the impulse to wait for two hours with his grandparents, until the bishop arrived, instead of going to rest at the home of his parents. They had been waiting for him till dawn to warn him about the danger to Santiago Nasar. But the majority of those who could have done something to prevent the crime and yet didn’t do it, consoled themselves with the pretext that, matters of honour are sacred reservations to which access is permitted only to the protagonists of the drama. ‘Honour is love’, I heard my mother say.

Placida Linero had locked the door at the last moment, but with the passage of time, she absolved herself of blame. ‘I locked it, because Divina Flor had sworn to me that she had seen my son come in’ she told me, ‘and it wasn’t true’. On the other hand, she never forgave herself for having confused the magnificent augury of the trees with the ill omen of the birds, and succumbed to the pernicious habit of her day of chewing cardamoms.

After Santiago Nasar had promised my sister that he would be coming for breakfast to our home, Cristo Bedoya took him by the arm along the dock, and the two of them, heavily involved in discussing wedding finances, seemed so unconcerned, that this gave rise to false illusions.

Indalecio Pardo, another close associate of the Santiago Nasar, was just passing by Clotilde Armenta’s store, when the twins had told him that they were going to kill Santiago Nasar, no sooner the bishop left. He thought, as so many others did, that these were the fantasies of early risers. But Clotilde Armenta convinced him of the seriousness of the threat, and urged him to reach Santiago Nasar and warn him. ‘Don’t trouble yourself’, Pedro Vicario said to him, ‘Consider him already dead’.

 The twins were aware of the close ties between Indalecio Pardo and Santiago Nasar and they must have thought that he was a suitable person to prevent the crime without their losing face. But Indalecio Pardo encountered Santiago Nasar arm in arm with Cristo Bedoya in the midst of the groups that were leaving the port, and he dared not warn him then. ‘I just didn’t have the courage’, he said to me. He patted each on the shoulder and allowed them to continue on their way. They hardly noticed him, so engrossed were they in the costing of the wedding.

Yamil Shaium was the only one who did what he had set out to do. No sooner he heard the rumour, he went out to the door of his dry goods store and waited for Santiago Nasar to warn him.   No one wielded as much authority as he did, to talk to Santiago Nasar. Yet, he thought that if the rumour were ill founded, it would be alarming him unnecessarily and preferred to first consult Cristo Bedoya who might be better informed. He called out to him as he was passing along with Santiago Nasar. They were already at the corner of the square. Cristo Bedoya gave a pat on the back to Santiago Nasar, saying, ‘see you Saturday’, and went to speak to Yamil Shaium. He took just enough time to listen to what Yamil Shaium had to say and then ran out of the store to catch up again with his friend. He had seen him turn the corner. Now, he had lost him.

It seemed impossible that Santiago Nasar had reached home in such a short time, but in any case Cristo Bedoya went in to enquire since he found the front door unbarred and open. He entered without seeing the paper on the floor. He passed through the shaded living room, trying not to make a noise, since it was still too early for visitors. On the corridor he crossed Divina Flor.  She assured him that Santiago Nasar had not returned. He then asked Victoria Guzman who was in the kitchen, if Santiago Nasar was at home and she answered him with feigned innocence, that he had still not come in to go to sleep. 

Cristo Bedoya returned to the living room where Divina Flor had just opened the windows.  Once again he asked her whether she was quite certain that Santiago Nasar had not come in through the living room door. That time she was not as sure as on the first occasion.  

He then went up to the second floor, to make sure that Santiago Nasar had not come in without been seen. The room door was locked on the inside, because Santiago Nasar had left through his mother’s bedroom. Not only was Cristo Bedoya as familiar with this house as he was with his own, but he enjoyed the confidence of this family to such an extent that he pushed open the door of Placida Linero’s bedroom and passed through to Santiago Nasar’s  room. The bed remained made, and on a chair was his horseman’s hat and  riding clothes and on the floor his riding boots alongside their spurs. Santiago Nasar’s wristwatch that lay on the bedside table read 6.58. ‘Suddenly, I thought that he had come back to go out again armed’, Cristo Bedoya said to me. ‘But the magnum was in the drawer of the bedside table. I had never fired a gun, but I decided to pick it up and take it along to him. He tucked it into his belt under his shirt, but it was only after the crime that he realized that it was not loaded. ‘As I was closing the drawer.  Placida Linero appeared in the doorway, her cup of coffee in her hand’. ‘Good heavens!’ she exclaimed, ‘What a shock you gave me.’

Cristo Bedoya left without explanations. On the square he ran into Fr Amador, but he didn’t think he could do anything for Santiago Nasar apart from saving his soul. Cristo Bedoya was heading, once again, for the docks, when he heard them calling him from the door of Clotilda Armenta’s store. Pedro Vicario was at the door, pale and disheveled, his shirt open with the sleeves rolled up. In his hand he held the crude knife, which he himself had fashioned from an old saw-blade. His demeanour was too insolent to be natural, yet it was neither the only pose nor the most obvious one that he had assumed at the last moment, so that they could prevent him from committing the crime.

‘Cristobal’, he shouted, ‘tell Santiago Nasar, that we are waiting for him here to kill him.’ ‘I warn you, he is armed with a magnum that can cut through an engine block,’ Cristo Bedoya shouted. 
‘Dead men do not shoot’, he shouted back.
Many years later, Pedro Vicarion said that he knew that Santiago Nasar never went armed, when he was not in his riding clothes.

Then Pablo Vicario appeared at the door. He was as pale as his brother. He was wearing his wedding jacket and was carrying his knife wrapped in the newspaper.   Clotilde Armenta then appeared behind Pablo Vicario and shouted out to Cristo Bedoya   to hurry up, because in this town of homosexuals only a man like him could prevent this tragedy. From then on, everything that happened is in the public domain.

The people, returning from the docks, hearing the shouting, positioned themselves on the square to witness the crime. Cristo Bedoya asked several people whom he knew about Santiago Nasar’s whereabouts, but no one had seen him. At the door of the social club, he ran into Colonel Lázaro Aponte and informed him about what had just occurred at Clotilde Armenta’s store. ‘That cannot be’, Colonel Aponte said, ‘because I packed them off to bed’. ‘I just saw them with pig-killing knives,’ Cristo Bedoya said ‘That just cannot be, because I took them away from them, before ordering them to go home to bed,’ said the mayor. ‘It must be that you saw them before that.’ ‘I saw them just two minutes ago and they each had a pig-killing knife in his hand,’ said Cristo Bedoya. ‘Oh shit!’ exclaimed the mayor. ‘Then they must have returned with two other knives.’ He promised to attend to the matter immediately but went into the Social Club to confirm a date for dominoes that night. When he came out,  the crime had already been consummated.

Cristo Bedoya then made his one fatal error. He thought that Santiago Nasar had finally decided to breakfast at our house before changing his clothes and he went there to look for him. He hurried along the river bank  Turning the last corner, he recognized, from the rear, my mother who was dragging along almost by force her youngest son.

‘Luisa Santiago’ he shouted, ‘where on earth is your godson?’ My mother barely turned, her face bathed in tears. Alas, my son’, she answered, ‘they say he’s been killed’.

That’s the way it was. While Cristo Bedoya was looking for him, Santiago Nasar had gone into the house of Flora Miguel, his fiancé. The house was just around the corner of the square where Cristo Bedoya had seen him for the last time, and missed catching up with him, after speaking to Yamil Shaium. ‘It neveroccured to me that he could be there so early in the morning ,’ Cristo Bedoya told me.

When Santiago Nasar and Flora Miguel were quite young, their parents had agreed  that the two get married. Santiago Nasar had accepted the engagement in the fullness of his adolescence and was determined to honour his commitment, perhaps because he held the same utilitarian views on matrimony as his father did.

Flora Miguel told my sister, the nun,  ‘I only knew that at 6 o’clock in the morning, everybody knew about it.’  It occurred to her, that while it was inconceivable that they would kill Santiago Nasar, they would certainly force him to marry Angela Vicario, in order to redeem their sister’s honour. Flora Miguel suffered a crisis of humiliation. Weeping with rage, she waited for him in the parlour with a chest full of letters on her lap; letters that Santiago Nasar had sent her from school. When he entered, she dumped the chest of letters in his hands, saying: ‘Here, keep this! And would to God, they kill you!’ Santiago Nasar was so perplexed that the chest fell from his hands and his loveless letters were strewn all over the floor.  Nahir Miguel, the father, then came on the scene  and spoke to Santiago Nasar in Arabic. ‘I asked him point blank, whether he knew that the Vicario brothers were waiting to kill him. He turned pale, and lost control in such a manner, that it was impossible to believe that he was putting on an act.’ Nahir Miguel said to me. ‘You know, if they are right or not’ he said to Santiago Nasar. ‘But in any case, now only two courses of action are left for you. Either you hide here, which is your house, or you go out with my rifle. It will be two against one’.

‘I don’t understand a damned thing’, said Santiago Nasar. It was the only thing he managed to say, and he said it in Spanish. ‘He looked like a little wet bird’, Nahir Miguel told me. ‘I had to take the chest out of his hands, because he didn’t know where to put it, so that he could open the door’. Santiago Nasar left.

The people had stationed themselves on the square, as they did on parade days. They all saw him come out, and they all realized that he was aware that they were going to kill him, and he was so flustered that he couldn’t find the way to his home. Someone shouted from a balcony. ‘Not that way, Turk, but by the old dock.’  Yamil Shaium shouted to him to get into his store, and he went in to get his hunting gun, but he could not remember where he had stored away the cartridges. The onlookers all began to shout at Santiago Nasar from all sides, and he, confused by hearing so many voices at the same time, turned now this way, now that. . He was obviously heading for the kitchen door of his house, but suddenly it must have occurred to him that the front door was open.

‘There he comes’, shouted Pedro Vicario.
They had both seen him at the same time. Pablo Vicario took off his jacket, folded  it, placed it on the bench and unwrapped his knife which was like a scimitar. Before leaving the store, without mutual agreement, they both made the sign of the cross. Then Clotilde Armenta grabbed Pedro Vicario by the shirt and yelled out to Santiago Nasar to run because they were going to kill him. It was such an urgent shout that it drowned all the others. ‘At first he was startled,’ Clotilde Armenta said, ‘because he did not know who was shouting at him and from where.’ But he then saw her, and also saw Pedro Vicario, who threw her to the ground with a push and caught up with his brother. Santiago Nasar was less than 50 metres from his house and he ran towards the main door.

Five minutes before that, in the kitchen, Victoria Guzmán had told Placida Linero what everyone knew. Calm by nature, she did not panic. She asked Victoria Guzmán whether she had said anything to her son. No, she said. In the living room, Divina Flor, at the same time, said that she had a vision of him enter through the door leading from the square and go up to the bedrooms, just a minute before.

 Placida Linero then saw the paper on the ground but did not think of picking it up. Through the open door she saw the Vicario brothers coming running towards the house with their knives bared. From where she was she could see them clearly, but did not manage to see her son who was running towards the door from a different angle. ‘I thought that they wanted to get in to kill him inside the house,’ she said to me.  ‘I ran towards the door and slammed it shut.’ She was just putting up the bar when she heard Santiago Nasar’s terrified shouts, and she also heard the frantic pounding on the door, but she thought that he was upstairs, hurling insults at the Vicario brothers from the balcony of his bedroom, and that it was they who were pounding on the door. She ran up to help her son. Santiago Nasar needed just a few seconds to get in when the door slammed shut in his face. He pounded on the door several times with his fists and then turned to face his enemies with his bare hands.

‘I was scared when I saw him face to face’, Pedro Vicario told me. ‘Because he appeared to be twice his size’. Santiago Nasar raised his hand to parry the first blow from Pedro Vicario, who attacked him on the right flank with his knife driven straight in.

‘Sons of a whore’, he shouted. The knife went through the palm of his right hand and then sank up to the hilt into his side. Everyone heard his yell of pain.

Oh! My mother!’

Pedro Vicario withdrew his knife with his fierce butcher’s wrist and plunged it in a second time almost in the same place. ‘The strange thing is that the knife kept returning clean’ Pedro Vicario told the enquirer. ‘I’d struck him at least three times and there was not a drop of blood.’ After the third knife thrust, Santiago Nasar twisted, his arms crossed over his stomach. He let out the moan of a calf and tried to turn his back to them. Pablo Vicario, who was on his left flank, then gave him with the curved knife, the only stab in the back, and a gush of blood spurted out at high pressure, drenching his shirt. ‘It smelled like him’, he said.

Mortally wounded three times, Santiago Nasar once again turned to face them, and leaned his back against his mother’s door, without offering the slightest resistance, as if his sole wish was to help them to finish him off,  sharing the honours equally between the two of them.

‘He didn’t cry out again’, Pedro Vicario told the investigator. ‘On the contrary, he seemed to be smiling’. Then they both kept on knifing him against the door, with alternate and easy thrusts, floating in the dazzling backwater they had encountered on the other side of fear. So mesmerized were they by the rhythmic cadence of the sweep of their knives, that they did not hear the shouts of a whole town terrified by its own crime. ‘I felt the way you do when galloping on horseback’, declared Pablo Vicario.  Yet, it seemed to them that Santiago Nasar would never collapse. ‘Shit, cousin’ Pablo Vicario said to me. ‘You will never imagine how difficult it is to kill a man’

Trying to finish it off once and for all, Pedro Vicario went for his heart, but he looked for it almost in the armpit, where it is in pigs. In fact Santiago Nasar was not falling because they themselves were holding him up against the door with their repeated knife thrusts. In desperation, Pablo Vicario gave him a horizontal slash across the abdomen and his guts spilled forth explosively. Santiago Nasar, for an instant, remained still, leaning against his mother’s door, until he saw his own guts, glinting clean and blue in the sunlight. He then sank to his knees.

Meanwhile, after looking and shouting for him in the bedrooms, hearing, without knowing where they came from, other shouts that were not her own, Santiago Nasars’s mother went to the window facing the square and saw the Vicario twins running towards the church. They were pursued closely by Yamil Shaium with his tiger hunting gun and some other unarmed Arabs. Placida Linero assumed that the danger had passed.

Then she went out on to the bedroom balcony and looking out saw, to her horror, her son, in front of the door, face downwards in the dust, trying to raise himself out of a pool of his own blood. He stood up, leaning to a side, and began to walk in a state of hallucination, holding his hanging intestines in his hands. He walked more than a hundred metres, completely around the house and entered through the kitchen door. He still had enough lucidity not to go by the street, which was the longest way. Instead he went in by the neighbouring house.

Poncho Lanao, his wife and their five children had not known what had just occurred twenty paces from their door. ‘We heard the shouting’, the wife told me, ‘but we thought it was the festivity for the bishop’. They were just sitting down to breakfast, when they saw Santiago Nasar enter, soaked in blood and carrying his guts by the roots in his hands.. ‘What I can never forget’ Pancho Lanao said to me, ‘is the terrible smell of shit’.

But Argénida Lanao the eldest daughter, said that Santiago Nasar walked with his usual upright bearing and well measured tread, and that his Saracen face with its impetuous curls stayed handsomer than ever. As he passed by the table, he smiled at them and continued through the bedrooms to the rear door of the house. ‘We were paralysed with fear’, Argenida Lanao told me.
My aunt Winifreda Marquez was scaling a shard in the yard of her house on the other side of the river, when she saw him going down the steps of the old dock with a firm step, looking for his home. Santiago, my son’ she shouted to him, ‘what has happened to you?’ Santiago Nasar recognized her.

‘They have killed me, Winnie child’, he said.

He stumbled on the last step, but got up at once. ‘He even took care to brush off with his hand the dirt that had stuck to his guts’, my aunt Winnie told me. He then went into his house through the back door that had been open since six and fell headlong on the kitchen floor.

So, amigos I have presented to you the final act of that tragedy which most of us  witnessed over two decades ago, on this very stage.  For the sake of completeness, there are some details yet, that need mentioning.  Several years later, when I visited Angela Vicario, she spared no detail, when describing what happened on that fateful wedding night. She explained how she had been well coached, in the art of deceiving her husband into believing that she was a virgin, but at the moment of truth, she didn’t have the heart, and besides, felt she was cheating, to go ahead with the planned subterfuge. She undressed before her husband, in a fully lit room, overlooking the expedient of the vaginal douche and the mercurochrome, with the predictable outcome we are all aware of.
 The fact is that she spoke about her misfortune without any shame, so as to cover up the other shame, the real one that was burning up her guts. No one would have had the slightest suspicion, until she decided to tell me, that from the moment Bayardo San Román had brought her back home, he had been, for all time, in her life. ‘I went crazy over him’ she said to me, ‘I lost my head completely’ Over half a lifetime she wrote one letter per week to him.  One day he walked in while she was at her embroidery machine with her companions He was carrying a suitcase of clothes for his stay in one hand, and another similar one with almost two thousand letters she had written to him, in the other. They were arranged in bundles according to date, tied up with coloured ribbons, and all unopened.

  One matter she refused to discuss. Hardly anyone, including the investigating magistrate believed that Santiago Nasar was responsible for the loss of her virginity.   But to my repeated questioning ,she had one simple answer; ‘ Don’t labour the point, cousin. He was my perpetrator.’ The generally accepted view was that Angela Vicario was protecting someone else, whom she still cared for, and she mentioned Santiago Nasar, because she never believed that her brothers would go against so powerful a man.

The Vicario twins were acquitted on the grounds that it was a case of justifiable homicide, the settlement of a debt of honor. 

So, it appears mi amigos, that the matter is closed for all time. But is it? I’d thought that once I had completed this chronicle, my heart and mind would be at peace, and that I need no longer keep tossing in my bed at night. But, just as the young, enthusiastic, investigating magistrate, in spite of a most genuine and conscientious attempt, concluded his dossier in a state of perturbation, so do I, after years of committed, hard, unremitting toil, remain perturbed, deeply perturbed. My perturbation stems from a question that nags, and will continue forever nagging me. That question is::

Who, who really killed Santiago Nasar.?

Mark Amerasinghe’s Monodramas,1997- 2009.

Mark Amerasinghe.
By profession an orthopaedic surgeon and anatomist. Mark Amerasinghe’s active engagement with drama commenced in 1978 when he acted in the “University Peradeniya Dramsoc” production of Chekov’s ‘The Bear’ directed by Thiru Kandiah, and also for the first time played as narrator in Valentine Basnayake’s musico-dramatic sketch, “Strange Old Man”.
Subsequently, he assumed this role in many productions including a dramatized narration of Goethe’s ballad ‘The Earl King, (in English translation by Valentine Basnayake and myself), followed by a rendering of the Schubert song in German with Valentine Basnayake at the piano. He also was the narrator in Thiru Kandiah’s musico-dramatic production of Don Qixote.
His first venture into the experimental field of recasting a novel into the mode of a one-man drama, a monodrama, was in 1997, when he produced, directed and acted in Tolstoy’s ‘Kreutzer Sonata’ followed by Albert Camus’ ‘The Fall’. In both instances using the then available English translations.
Always interested in the French novel., initially read in English translation, his reading of Albert Camus spurred him on to study the French language, with the aim of delving deep into the original work to obtain a more authentic viewpoint, which would help to enhance the dramatic effect of his presentation.
He is a keen vocalist and has given recitals at the British Council Colombo(1983, ‘87)  and the British Council Kandy (1995, ’96).

Mark Amerasinghe was awarded the distinction of Chevlier des Arts et Lettres by the French Government in 2006.

For all these presentations, the script writer,producer, director, stage manager and actor were one person - Mark Amerasinghe.

So these were truly One Man Shows!

An Introduction
Mark Amerasinghe’s Monodramas
1997- 2009
Over a period of some years now,(from 1997 to date) I have presented on stage, in English, nine monodramas, adapted from novels, seven of which are well-known French novels. The partiality towards the French novel is due to the fact that, while as a young student I had read some of the works of Flaubert, Camus and Gide in English translation, and developed an interest in the works of French novelists, in recent years I commenced the study of French at the Alliance Française in Kandy, Sri Lanka, because I was convinced that the true flavour of a work could be really relished only in the original language.

The seven French novels that I have adapted and scripted for stage from the originals, and presented as monodramas in English are, Camus’ L’Étranger (The Outsider)- presented as ‘The Outsider, [4980 words](Gallimard), Victor Hugo’s ‘Le Derniere Jour D’Un Condamné (Librio)-presented as ‘The Last Day in Death Row’ [5976 words]   André Gide’s ‘La Symphonie Pastorale’ (Gallimard)- presented as ‘Forbidden Fruit’[6171 words], Maupassant’s ‘Le Horla’ [8777words] (Hachette) and most recently Marguerite Youcenar’s ‘Comment Wang-Fô fut Sauvé’ [4839] (Gallimard ) Antoine Saint Exupery’s “Little Prince[in 2007] and Orphee [2009].

Presenting these novels as monodramas entailed three distinct processes:
1.translation of the French to English (even where English translations were available, I preferred to make my own translations, because it compelled me to make an in-depth study of the original text),
2.adaptation, which involved an act of transcription, and the writing of a dramatic script
3.the dramatization.

The most challenging of these three processes was the writing of a dramatic script, which while retaining the authentic voice of the author and the tone and essence of the content of the novel, was at the same time not too long to be handled by a single actor, nor too tedious to be sat through, without discomfort, by an audience, whose attention had to be caught from the very start, and held for at least one hour, sometimes, perhaps and hour and a half.

It was the production of an attention-holding and convincing script that determined the success or otherwise of the dramatic presentation. The stage presentations which were made on a practically bare stage, except for a table and chair, and the minimum of costuming, if at all, were preceded by a Preamble which set the scene of the action and gave those unfamiliar with the text (the majority of the audience, were not accustomed to reading French texts even in English translation) the basic outline of what was to follow. The audience had a chance of reading the preamble before the drama commenced.

Since in writing the scripts for all the monodramas basically the same devices were employed, I will make use of Camus’ ‘The Outsider’ as an example to illustrate the process of scripting. Quotations in English are from the dramatized, adapted script. The original French when quoted is in italics.

In ‘The Outsider’ I made use of two narrators, although the original had only a single narrator –the protagonist, Mersault. This presentation was in two acts. In effect then, we had two narrators and two monologues, yet one player. Using my own terminology the devices I used in writing this script were the use of:

1.a second narrator: in effect one player playing 2 roles at different times and hence presenting 2 monologues. (As stated this was done only in ‘The Outsider’)
2.space-time dislocation.
3.extensive cutting with focusing.
4.compacting with translocation, remolding, regrouping and synthesizing – recasting.
7.audience involvement

The introduction of a second narrator was linked with the space-time dislocation, so the two will be considered together. In the original novel the protagonist Mersault, the sole voice throughout the text, begins the novel by telling us about his mother’s death and funeral – Aujourd’hui, maman est morte…J’ai reçu un télegramme de l’asile: ‘Mère dé cédée…’and the events that followed,  in a strict temporal sequence which reaches a high point with the killing of the Arab.  All this is in Part 1 of the original novel.

Part 11 of the original commences with Mersault telling us about his arrest and incarceration, continues with a description of his preliminary interrogation by the magistrate, his days in jail before the trial, the details of the proceedings at his trial up to the point of his being sentenced to death, and ends finally with a description of his days in jail awaiting the guillotine. 

 In the adapted script I turn the text around by beginning with the public prosecutor’s address to the jury, which in the original novel naturally appears in the latter part of Part 11, towards the end of Mersault’s trial. In the original the public prosecutor’s appearance, demeanour, cross-examination of witnesses and address to the jury is brought to our attention indirectly, by Mersault.
 Ici, le procureur a essuyé son visage brillant de sueur. Il a dit enfin que son devoir était douloureux, mais qu’il l’accomplirait fermemement. Il a declaré que je n’avais rien à faire avec une société dont je méconnaisis les règles les plus essentielles et que je ne pouvais pas en appeler à ce coeur humain don’t j’ignorais les reactions élémentaires. ‘Je vous demande la tête de cet homme a-t-il dit, et c’est le coeur léger que je vous la demande. Car s’il me’est arrive au cours de ma déja longue carrière de réclaimer des peines capitals, jamais autant qu’aujourdhui, je n’ai senti ce pénible devois compensé, balance, éclairé par la conscience d’un commandement impérieux et sacré et par l’horreur que je ressens devant un visage d’homme où je ne lis rien que de monstreux[Part 11,page 150] ‘My duty is a painful one, but it must be done without flinching. The prisoner in the dock has, I repeat, no place in a community whose basic moral principles he flouts without compunction. Nor, heartless as he is, has he any claim on your mercy. I ask you to return such a verdict that this court is left with no option but to impose upon Mersault the supreme penalty prescribed by the laws of our land, and I ask it without a qualm. In the course of a long career, in which it has often been my duty to ask for a capital sentence, never have I felt that painful duty weigh so lightly upon me as I demand from you, in the name of the people of France, the verdict of, guilty of murder without extenuating circumstances. There is no more to be said.’ .

The adapted script directly introduces the public prosecutor to the audience. We now actually see and hear him in the courtroom, as he delivers his damning and highly prejudiced indictment of Mersault, ending with a fervent plea for the passing of sentence of death on Mersault. The drama begins with the prosecutor in gown and wig commencing his address ‘Gentleman of the jury, this is the last time I shall stand before you on the floor of the Court to address you in the case of the Republic of France vs Mersault. The details of Mersault’s crime are so etched in your mind…’ and ending with  ‘ There is no more to be said.’ This space-time shift is done for dramatic impact. Act 1 is reserved for the public prosecutor.

 In Act 11, in the original we see Mersault in his cell, awaiting trial. In the dramatized script,  Mersault, in prison clothes,  is in his cell after his trial and conviction… He soliloquises, ‘The sun is setting and it is the hour of which I’d rather not speak – the nameless hour, I call it – when evening sounds creep up from all the floors of the prison in a sort of mournful procession. They moved me to this cell last evening, after the verdict…’ Le jour finissait et c’était  l’heure don’t je ne veux pas parler, l’heure sans nom , où les bruits de soir montaient de tous les étages de la prison dans un cortège de silence Part11,page 119]

From a space-time point of view, given the point at which we see Mersault on stage, in his cell, the script seemingly maintains the same time sequence as the original text, though by giving Mersault the right of soliloquy the audience is taken back in time to events that are described in Part 1 of the original text. So, while the audience looks upon a scene at a particular point of time, the viewer-auditor is projected imaginatively by script and player to another space and another time.  … ‘There is no mistaking it. Yes, I’ve been talking to myself…Talking about , among other things, mother’s funeral and the events that swiftly followed… Mother’s funeral. The telegram read. ‘Your mother passed away. Funeral tomorrow. Deepest sympathies’. I took the 2pm bus to Marengo, where the Home was some fifty miles from here… ‘Mère décédé. Enterrement demain. Sentiments distingués… L’asile de vieillards est à Marego, à Quatre-vingts kilometers d’Alger. Je prendrai l’autobus à deux heures…


One of the most difficult challenges I faced when writing the script was deciding what to exclude, in an attempt to convey the essence of the novel and of the character being portrayed, without boring the audience, and without doing violence to the author.

This challenge was met by deciding on what aspects of the novel I felt needed to be highlighted. The aspects I decided to focus attention on were:

1.Society’s rejection, amounting almost to fear, of a man who sought to be himself in a natural, unobtrusive, detached unaffected way, a man who was honest with himself and about himself, who refused to prevaricate, not because he was adopting a high moral ground, but simply because that was the way he was. He was different. So society considered him dangerous.
2.The weakness of a system of justice which permits a clever, calculating public prosecutor to manipulate the social prejudices of a jury, consisting of ordinary men and women whose feelings could be preyed upon.
3.Mersault’s very positive approach to life and a total absence of a fear of death. Though he quite emphatically believed that life was meaningless, this  approach   demanded that the individual give his own meaning to life, by living it to the full in his own way, to the exclusion of God and the hereafter. 
4.The question of capital punishment.

Those portions of the novel which brought into focus the above aspects were retained with or without modification, while those which had no bearing on them were ruthlessly excised.  On the other hand, the brief exchanges between Marie and Mersault about love and marriage are  brought into focus, because it clearly reflects Mersault’s  sense of almost brutal honesty. ‘Even with Marie I could not pretend. When she asked me whether I loved her, I said no…When Marie asked me whether I would marry her, I replied, ‘Yes, we could marry any time you like, but it is not of much importance…’  Le soir, Mairie est venue me chercher et m’a demandé si je voulai me marier avec elle. J’ai dit que cela m’êtait  égal et que nous pourions le faire si elle le voulait…Elle a voulu m’a demandé si je l’amais. J’ai repondu comme je l’avais déjà fait une fois, que cela ne signifiait reien mais que sans doute je ne l’amais pas [Part 1 page 64]…’ Here again is another example of space-time dislocation, because this exchange which in the text appears in Part 1, in the script appears in Part 11  , as part of Mersault’s soliloquy while in prison.


These will be considered together because the public prosecutor’s address illustrates all of the above, apart from the space-time shift referred to earlier. The material for this address as presented in the adaptation is obtained from:
1.Mersault’s own account of the shooting of the Arab( Part 1 in the original) Mersault had given all the details without distortion to the examining magistrate at the preliminary enquiry and confirmed them at the trial when the magistrate’s report was read out to him by the presiding judge.
2.Information extracted from the witnesses –the Warden of the Home, the door-keeper, Marie, Raymond (Part 2, of the original, in the cross-examination by the public prosecutor)
The Warden and door-keeper of the home provided the information about  Mersault’s behaviour at the Funeral.
Marie confirmed information that had been provided earlier by Mersault about their ‘liaison’ as referred to by the public prosecutor.
Raymond gave  the information about his job and his relationship with Mersault.
3. Mersault’s own account of his meeting Marie in the swimming pool on the day      after his mother’s funeral. (Part.1 ). This information too had been given to the examining magistrate.
4. The public prosecutor’s actual final address to the jury as it appears in the text. (Part 2). It is here that he refers to the case of patricide. ‘Tomorrow, gentlemen of the jury, this court will produce for trial a man who has perpetrated the most heinous of crimes – the crime of pratricide. I trust that this jury will not falter in its duty tomorrow, when it decides and decides justly, that a man who did to death the father that begat him, has no right to live among us. In like manner this criminal, Mersault, morally guilty of his mother’s death, is no less fit to do so. Indeed, the first crime led to the second. This prisoner now in the dock, guilty of murder by neglect, of his mother, provoked by example and legitimized, if I may say so, the crime of patricide. Mersault thus, is guilty of that murder to be tried in this court tomorrow…’  “Cette même cour, messieurs, va juger demain le plus abominable des forfeits: le meurtre d’un père”…Toujours selon lui, un homme qui turait moralement sa mere titre que celui qui portait un main meurtrière sur l’auteur de ses jours. Dans tous les cas, le premier préparait les actes du second, il les annonçait en quelque sorte et il les légitimait. “J’en suis persuade messierurs, a-t-il ajouté en éelevant la voix, vous ne trouverez pas ma pensée trop audacieuse, si je dis que l’homme qui est assis sur ce banc est coupable aussi du meutre que cette cour devra juger demain. Il doit être puni en consequence”.[Part 11, page149,150]

In the adapted script these sections from different parts of the text are shifted out of their usual position and repositioned (translocated) with  or without modification. Three unrelated events, Mersault’s behaviour at his mother’s funeral, his meeting up with Marie and the case of patricide are pulled out from their usual setting and brought together to prove a point (translocation, with compacting and regrouping)


Mersault   in the original refers to the response of his attorney at one stage of the trial to a remark made by the public prosecutor. Mais mon avocat, à bout de patience, s’est écrié en levant les bras,de sorte que ses manches en retombant ont découvert les plis d’une chemise amidonnée ‘Enfin, est-il accuse d’avour enterré sa mere ou d’avour tué un homme?’ .(Part 2, page 142 ).

These words of the defence attorney are conveyed to us by the public prosecutor himself in Part 1 of the script. During his address, the latter actually pauses with a surprised look, giving the impression that the smooth flow of his address has been interrupted, and says: ‘Oh my Lords! My learned friend raises his arms to high heaven, and in the best traditions of the French theatre, imploringly asks, “My Lords is my client on trial for killing an Arab or for burying his mother” This is what I refer to as transference or substitution.

There are many instances of translocation throughout the adaptation. In the text, we learn about Mersault receiving the telegram informing him of his mother’s death in the first few lines of the book. In the adaptation the telegram is referred to for the first time in Act 2, when Mersault reminisces/soliloquises as he lies in prison after his conviction.

So while we actually see Mersault in the cell he occupies after his conviction,  he takes us back in time to an earlier period, when he was in his previous cell from which he could see the sea, which played so important a part in Mersault’s life. The script continues, ‘I used to  spend hours peering out of the window of that previous cell’ in a passage which is part extrapolation and part made up of material taken from different parts of the text (translocation and regrouping).

‘But now against the backdrop of the music of the waves, emerges another sound – a voice, my own voice. I’ve been talking to myself. There is no one else to talk to. Talking about mother’s funeral and the events that swiftly followed’ Thus the fact of his talking to himself, which is mentioned in the text early on in Ch 2  -‘But at the same time, I heard something that I hadn’t heard for months. It was the sound of a voice; my own voice and there was no mistaking it ‘- is brought out in the script in Act 2 in words which smoothly leads to the telegram, mother’s funeral and the events leading to the shooting of the Arab. This shifting of textual material provided me  with the opportunity of permitting Mersault to give his version of what actually happened.Mais en même temps et pur la première fois depuis des mois, j’ai entendu distinctement le son de ma voix…Je me suis souvenu alors de ce que disait l’infirmière à l’enterrement de maman…[Part 11 page 119,120]

It also permits Mersault to express his love of the sea and of the good times he had with Marie. There is a deliberate juxtaposition of mother and Marie, two people who played an important role in his conviction. ‘Mother, the strange look on the face of the porter when I told him there was no need to unscrew the loosely put screws on the lid of the coffin so that I could see her body. The sound of the sea keeps drumming against my ears, reminding me of Marie… ’And then follows a section devoted to his feelings for Marie In the text the incident of not wishing to see the body is referred to quite early  in Part 1.
On l’a couverte, mais je dois devisser la bière pour que vous puissiez la voir.’ Il s’approchait de la bière quand je l’ai arête. Il ma dit ‘Vous ne voulez pas?’ J’ai répondu: ‘Non’ Il s’est interrompu et j’êtais gêne parce que je sentais que je n’aurais pas dû dire cela…[Part 1, page 12]

The script goes on ‘The day I was taken in I thought it was a matter of time before I was free again, and in fact on that first day in court, my lawyer assured me that all would be well’ Mon avocat m’avait assure qu’ils ne dureraient pas plus de deux or trios jours…[Part 11 page 121]. From mother’s funeral to Marie and the highly sensuous relationship with her, a smooth transition is made to the first day in court. Here is pure manipulation and rearrangement of text. In the novel, quite  early, Mersault relates in sequence the events that followed his mother’s death.

I do not introduce Mersault directly to the audience until he is in prison after his conviction. The public prosecutor has given his version of what happened. I now make use of Mersault’s soliloqy to  present not only his reminiscences of what actually happened but also certain thoughts which I imagined would have passed through his mind. These imagined thoughts, textually justified, I arrange in such a manner that it permits a seamless dramatic continuity. This brings me to:


By extrapolation I mean introducing material especially in Mersault’s soliloquy in Act 2, which is not found stated explicitly in the text but, which I feel I am justified in introducing,; because knowing Mersault through the text, I imagine that those thoughts could very well have passed through his mind, although Camus does not articulate them. An example of this is the explicit expression in the adaptation of Mersault’s love of the sea. I do this particularly because apart from Mersault, Camus himself loved the sea and beaches at Algiers.

‘I used to spend hours gazing out at the sea through the window of that earlier cell. The sea at Algiers with its sun-soaked plumed waves…. I feel the hot tingling embrace of wave after wave and I think of Marie.’ These words are not actually found in the text but there are at least 3 places in the text that justify my  putting  these words into Mersault’s mouth.  Marie m’a rejoint alors et s’est collée à moi dans l’eau. Ella a mis sa bouch contre la mienne. Sa langue rafraîchissait mes lèvres et nou nous somme roulés dans les vagues pendant un moment…[Part 1 page 54]

Then in P.1, Ch 6 p48, again-‘Then Marie proposed that we should swim tandem…’, and further details are given about that frolic in the sea. In prison he can’t help but think of the sea. ‘Still, there was one thing in those early days that was really irksome: my habit of thinking like a free man. For instance I would suddenly be seized with a desire to go down to the beach for a swim. And merely to have imagined the sound of ripples at my feet, and then the smooth feel of the water on my body as I struck out, and the wonderful sensation of relief it gave…(P.2, ch2, p 67)

In the adaptation at one stage Mersault says ‘Of course, I’d told the examining magistrate everything as it had really occurred…it had nothing to do with high principles , it was just my way of doing things.’ Mersault does not actually utter these words in the text, it is an extrapolation, but his behaviour justifies my putting these words into his mouth, because it underlines probably the most important feature of Mersault’s character – his fidelity to the truth even at the risk of his life, a fidelity which was not put on, not based on any lofty principles, not even indifference, as might be suggested, but just his way of doing things. ‘ Even with Marie’ he goes on,  ‘I could not pretend’ . These exchanges with Marie about love and marriage are almost taken unchanged from the text and are retained because it again illustrates Mersault’s almost brutal honesty.

At one stage of the trial, in Act 2 of the adaptation, Mersault draws attention to a very important aspect of the public prosecutor’s address designed to prejudice the jury: ‘Throughout the trial more time was spent on mother than on the Arab’  These words are not actually found in the text, but I felt that Mersault would have pondered that thought. Again, ‘Everyone wanted to know whether I really loved my mother. Even my own lawyer asked me before the trial whether I loved my mother. I was quite taken aback. I would never have dreamed of asking anyone a question like that. Would you ?’
Il (mon avocat) m’a demandé si j’avais eu de la peine ce jour-là. Cette question m’a beaucoup étonné et il me semblait que j’aurais été très gene si j’avais eu à la poser…[Part 1 page 95,96]

 There is another device used by me that the last part of this quote from the script illustrates, namely audience involvement, by throwing the question, ‘Would you?’ directly at the audience.

I spend some time on a further extrapolation about Mersault’s mother, because I am convinced that Mersault’s perceived indifference towards his mother,  had nothing to do with his true feelings. He was being realistic, down to earth. He was accepting her death as every Buddhist is exhorted to do by the priest at a post-funeral  sermon. So why should we fault Mersault? ‘The public prosecutor in particular appeared to be most upset that I had not wept over mother. But then, there was nothing unusual or unexpected about mother dying. Like anyone else mother had to die at some time or another. Of course, I’d rather mother had not died, at that point of time, I mean. But my tears would not have changed matters. But one thing seemed certain, mother’s death had a great deal to do with  the verdict’

Here again I put into Mersault’s mouth words which are not actually uttered in the text, but  which I imagine Mersault would have voiced in his prison soliloquy. Furthermore, the last line allows a smooth transition to the pronouncement of the verdict of death by the presiding judge. ‘The verdict intoned solemnly by the presiding judge.’ The need for dramatic continuity of the monologue called for careful re-arrangement of material so that I could make a smooth transition, without jolting my audience..

When Mersault recalls the shooting of the Arab, apart from cutting out some detail, there is very little manipulation of text. On the other hand I extrapolate material to make explicit what is implied in the text with regard to the true reason for Mersault being in possession of Raymond’s revolver, as opposed to the accusation of deliberate intent hurled by the public prosecutor. ‘My hand closed tight on the butt of Raymond’s revolver. It was only then I realized that it was still with me. I had forgotten to return it. Again it did not seem of much importance, giving it back, as a matter of urgency I mean’ The last 3 sentences are not actually spoken by Mersault, but they are thoughts that could very well have passed through his mind, and need to be emphasised because of the diametrically opposed and prejudiced view expanded upon by the public prosecutor.

That my interpretation about Mersault’s lack of intention is correct has textual justification. In Part 1, this exchange between Raymond and Mersault takes place.. The latter has deliberately followed Raymond  Moi, je l’ai suivi quand même. J’ai eu l’impression que Raymond savait oû il allait…Puis Raymond a porté la main à sa poche revolver…Puis Raymond m’a demandé,’ Je le descends?’…Je lui ai seulment dit: …’Ça ferait villain de tirer comme ça…Prends-le d’homme à homme, et donne-moi ton revolver. Si l’autre intervient, ou s’il tire son couteau, je le descendrai’ [Part 1 page 85]

The description of the actual firing of the five shots is followed by a deliberate extrapolation introduced by me to focus attention vividly on the central thread that runs throughout the novel, the connection that is made by prosecutor, judge and jury between Mersault’s mother’s death and the death of the Arab. The striking difference in the attitudes and environments of the two bodies might very well have struck Mersault at that moment: the hot, sunbaked (that sun once again) sands (described in Part 2 of the text) on the one hand and the blazing mortuary lights (described in P.1 of the text) on the other.

 ‘The shots, five in all, rang out loud, crisp, clear in the still silence, rapped on the door of my doom, shattered the calm of the beach, shattered my future. The warm, inert body lay sprawled untidily on the burning sand. Suddenly I thought of mother; her cold body stretched out, neatly I imagined, in the cosy confines of her cushioned coffin under the blazing lights in the spotless gleaming mortuary’

The last section of the closing scene of the dramatic presentation is pure extrapolation. The novel ends without Camus giving us a hint of whether Mersault’s appeal was successful or not. Mersault and reader are left in doubt. Pour que tout soit consommé, pour que je me sente moins sesul, il me restait à souhaiter qu’il y ait beaucoup de spectateurs le jour de mon execution et qu’ils m’accueillent avec des cris de haine.[Part 11 last para]

For a dramatic presentation I find this ending unsatisfactory. I take matters into my own hands. The entire trend of the novel more than suggests to me that Mersault’s appeal fails and that he is executed. So the adaptation follows almost to a word the last few sentences spoken by Mersault in the text, but continues beyond that ending:

‘For the final consummation of that happiness, for me to feel less alone, it was only left for me to hope that at my execution there should be a huge crowd of spectators and that they should greet me with howls of hate.’

‘But listen! I hear footsteps; and I catch the first gleam of dawn. The steps grow louder, get closer; now, just outside my cell, they stop. The key turns briskly, the heavy iron door hinges slowly inwards with a groan. The people of France, have come for me at last. I am ready. Outside, a howling, thirsting, hungry mob awaits me. You have to put me away. I am, The Outsider – L’ étranger!’