Cover photo by Hunter Canning

The Strangest

Betty Shamieh
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Midway through Albert Camus's The Stranger, an Arab is killed. Leaping from this moment and working backwards through possible histories of tangled romance, ethnic conflict, and random violence, Betty Shamieh has crafted a play inspired by this unnamed character. Infused with elements of Middle Eastern oral storytelling traditions and set in French Algiers on the brink of revolution, THE STRANGEST is an absurdist murder mystery about three Algerian brothers who vie for the love of the same woman. Their bitter rivalry ends with one brother being inexplicably gunned down by a French stranger.

Production Info

Cast: 7 total (2 female, 5 male)
Full Length Drama (about 100 minutes)
Minimal Set Requirements
Contemporary Costumes
Category: Tags: ,

Press Quotes

“The murdered Algerian in Albert Camus’s The Stranger isn’t even worthy of a name. We know the killer is a Frenchman who goes by Meursault, but the victim is anonymous. Now THE STRANGEST, by Betty Shamieh (ROAR, FIT FOR A QUEEN), reframes the point of view once again: from a criminal Frenchman to an Algerian woman, from the colonizer to the colonized. Umm belongs to a storytelling family, and she attempts to join their traditionally male ranks by turning her drama into a suspenseful riddle. A mix of Arabic storytelling flourishes and Ionesco-like absurdum!” —The New York Times

“Shamieh structured THE STRANGEST as a murder mystery where one of three brothers will be shot in the end. In the play, Abu, the father of the young man who is shot, was known as a powerful storyteller. Nevertheless, the most powerful voice is Umm, Abu’s wife. Reminiscent of commedia dell’arte … the play not only mitigates the colonial deletion of native voices in Camus’s novel, but also challenges the general silencing of women.” —Arab Stages

“THE STRANGEST, suggested by the classic novel, turns the tale inside out, exploring the mysterious murder through the device of a traditional Arab storytelling café in which the audience is immersed.” —New York Magazine

About the Author


  • Betty Shamieh

    Betty Shamieh is a playwright, author, screenwriter, and actress. She is the author of fifteen plays. She was selected as the winner of The Playwrights' Center's 2012 – 2013 McKnight National Residency and Commission. Her Off-Broadway premieres are THE BLACK EYED (New York Theatre Workshop) and ROAR (The New Group), which was selected as a New York Times Critics Pick and is currently being taught at universities throughout the United States. Shamieh was named a UNESCO Young Artist for Intercultural Dialogue in 2011. Her recent European productions in translation include AGAIN AND AGAINST (Playhouse Theater, Stockholm), THE BLACK EYED (Fournos Theatre, Athens), and TERRITORIES (co-production of the Landes-Theatre and the European Union Capital of Culture Festival). AGAIN AND AGAINST was presented in Russian translation as part of the American Seasons in Russia/U.S.-Russia Presidential Bi-lateral Commission and Lark Play Development Center in 2011. AS SOON AS IMPOSSIBLE was commissioned by Second Stage through the Time Warner Commissioning Program. THE MACHINE was directed by Marisa Tomei and produced by Naked Angels. Her play FREE RADICALS was commissioned by at Het Zuidelijk Toneel (Holland). TERRITORIES was commissioned by Trinity Rep, developed at Al-Harah Theatre, and presented at the Bethlehem Peace Center with support from the Doris Duke Foundation. In 2012, Princeton University's Institute for Advanced Studies presented the world premiere of a suite of arias from TERRITORIES, an opera that Shamieh is writing the lyrics and libretto for based on her play. Shamieh performed in her play of monologues, CHOCOLATE IN HEAT, in three extended Off-Off-Broadway runs and over twenty university theatres. A graduate of Harvard College and the Yale School of Drama, she was a recipient of a NEA/TCG residency program at the Magic Theatre. Shamieh was selected as a Clifton Visiting Artist at Harvard in 2004 and named as a Playwriting Fellow at Harvard University's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies in 2006. Shamieh's contributions to theatre and literature have not gone unnoticed. Her life and work has been the subject of features in The New York Times, Time Out, American Theatre magazine, Theater Bay Area, The Brooklyn Rail, San Francisco Chronicle, Svenska Dagbladet, Teaterstockholm, der Standard, Aramco Magazine, Kathimeiri, and The International Herald Tribune among others. A cartoon of ROAR appeared in The New Yorker's "Goings on about Town" section. She is a member of New Dramatists, an affiliated artist at the New Group, and a New York Theatre Workshop Usual Suspect. Her works have been translated into seven languages.

About the Book

Book Information

Publisher BPPI
Publication Date 6/30/2018
Pages 68
ISBN 9780881457865

Special Notes

Special Notes

Licensees are required to include the original stage producers credits in the following form on the title page in all programs distributed in connection with performances of the Play and in all advertising in which the full cast appears in size of type not less than ten percent (10%) of the size of the title of the Play:
The following must appear within all programs distributed in connection with performances of the Play:
The Strangest is produced
by special arrangement with Broadway Play Publishing Inc, NYC