This play dramatises a French sailor's protest in 1948-49 against the brutality of the French military conduct of the Indochina war. Henri Martin was imprisoned in 1950 for five years for distributing pamphlets. The struggle to get him released became the `Henri Martin Affair'. This play was a vital part of that struggle, and was performed all over France, usually clandestinely, often out of doors, despite Government opposition and police harassment. Audiences were large and mainly working class. Sartre referred to it as the only example of true theatre populaire in existence. In August 1953, Henri Martin was released after serving forty months of his sentence.
Fifty years after his experiences in Indochina, Henri Martin is still alive and has been consulted by the editor of this volume, as have others connected with this unique saga in French theatre.
This is a volume in the series Textes litteraires/Exeter French Texts. The text, introduction and essential notes are all in French.
Ted Freeman is Senior Lecturer in French at the Univeristy of Bristol. He is the author and editor of many books, including Theatres of War: French Committed Theatre from the Second World War to the Cold War (University of Exeter Press, 1998).