Authorised Beckett biographer James Knowlson shares previously unpublished insights into Beckett’s most famous play; Michael Coffey reviews two distinctive Beckett productions in New York City; Gabriel Quigley sits down with the artistic director of Company SJ, Sarah Jane Scaife; Rhys Tranter asks Beckett scholar Paul Stewart about his decision to appear in a production of Krapp’s Last Tape; and much more
April 13th marks 112 years since the birth of Irish writer, playwright, and Nobel laureate Samuel Beckett. To celebrate, we at the Samuel Beckett Society have assembled a collection of links to celebrate his life, work, and legacy. Enjoy!
University of Reading: “Public events, new creative works, and funded fellowships around the work of Samuel Beckett will all be products of a new research centre dedicated to the Irish novelist, story writer, and playwright.
The Beckett Research Centre brings together academics at the University of Reading to promote world-leading research, teaching and creative projects based around the University’s internationally-recognised Beckett Archive.”
The London Beckett Seminar at the Institute of English Studies will bring together national and international scholars, researchers and postgraduates to discuss issues arising from the prose, theatre and poetry of Samuel Beckett that pertain to aspects of literary, philosophical and historical analysis with particular attention to translation studies, performance and practice, digital humanities and visual cultures. Inherently interdisciplinary in approach, the seminar will establish a vibrant research network for postgraduate students, early-career researchers, and established academics on a national and international level.
“World Premiere of The Old Tune directed by Conall Morrison (whose Woyzeck in Winter received rave reviews in Galway and London last year) and starring two iconic Irish actors, Barry McGovern and Eamon Morrisey, is a rare opportunity to see two of Ireland’s finest theatre actors performing on stage together.”
“This latest Godot is part of the Happy Days: International Beckett Festival, now in its sixth edition, which shares August with the somewhat newer Lughnasa Frielfest, dedicated to another famous Irish playwright and located further up the Brexit frontline, at venues in Derry and Donegal. ” Frank McNally, The Irish Times
“On Morton Feldman and his work with Beckett how is Neither for you distinct from Words and Music in terms of tone and mood?
Liam Browne: Neither was written for a solo high soprano voice and the text is stretched across a one hour-long period making the text indistinct whereas every word in Words and Music is accounted for and is spoken rather than sung. Different genres of course, one is prose/short story and the other a play. Beckett didn’t approve of one genre being transferred into another which is why in our rendering of neither on bespoke billboards we are treating the billboards as the page.”
Read the full Q&A with Liam Browne over at marlbank
“In July 2012, at the performance workshop of the second Samuel Beckett Summer School, I sat in the Players Theatre and watched Rosemary Pountney (1937-2016) try to walk in Footfalls in precisely the way that Samuel Beckett had showed her. Though the costume she wore was the original dress and hardly the worse for wear, with time her body had moved on to a different style of movement, with a different level of control, and to take each required step in the way her body once knew, for the full duration of the piece, was no longer within her capacity.
Watching her move, and then watching as the lights moved across the stage where her footfalls would have once been, what I thought about acting and accessibility changed forever. Watching this performing body with the genuine, inimitable traces of age, I felt the ghostly resonances of the text in a completely new way. That day I traded my old answers for new questions: how could anyone say to Rosemary that she should no longer communicate her embodied knowledge, merely because it might have migrated from an earlier authorial ideal? And when was it ever ideal in the first place? What would a “perfect” performance even mean in the context of Beckett, that poet of failure? Instead of demanding sameness in our theatre, what can we learn from difference?” — Nicholas Johnson
Lara Marlowe: “The village of 1,300 will commemorate Beckett’s 1942-1944 stay in Roussillon with its 19th annual Beckett Festival from July 30th until August 1st. The actor Jacques Frantz will read from The Unnamable, the third book in Beckett’s trilogy. The festival will close with a performance by Denis Lavant of Worstword Ho.”
Public Panel and Conversation, Wednesday 1 August 2018, 11am-1pm
“Samuel Beckett wrote and reflected constantly about the nature and meaning of embodiment, and as a result he continues to be an important touchstone in the growing field of Disability Studies. Researchers from both English and Creative Arts backgrounds have a growing interest in exploring how diverse physical, sensorial, developmental and psychological abilities manifest themselves in literature and in performance, and Beckett’s work provides many examples in terms of both practice and theory.
The Samuel Beckett Summer School, celebrating its eighth year of working at the cutting edge of new discourses in Beckett Studies, will offer a panel discussion and “long table” event on the topic of Beckett and Disability as its traditional Wednesday morning “plenary” discussion. Chaired by a researcher focusing in this area, Siobhán Purcell (NUI Galway), the panel will discuss a wide range of issues, including the representation of disability/ability in Beckett’s literature, as well as the theatre contexts in which Beckett’s work has been engaged by neurodiverse performers. The recent work of Touretteshero, especially their production of Not I in London, will be discussed by Jonathan Heron (University of Warwick). Other panelists, including Julie Bates (TCD, English) and Declan Reilly (TCD, Disability Service) will speak to the implications of accessibility and neurodiversity in education, policy, and philosophical landscapes.
The panel will run from 11 AM to approximately noon, and after a short break, the audience will be invited to contribute with a structured but open discussion until 1 PM. The event will be open to the public, accessible, and free of charge (but ticketed).”
As Marek Kedzierski plans another multidisciplinary and international celebration of Beckett, the SBSS asked him about his hugely ambitious and successful 2017 fail.better:beckett@111, and to find out what he has in mind for his new venture.
Conor Carville discusses the role of the Reading archives in the research of his most recent book, Samuel Beckett and the Visual Arts: “The magnificent collection of Samuel Beckett’s manuscripts, notebooks, letters and other material held here at Reading was fundamental to the research for my new book Samuel Beckett and the Visual Arts, which has just come out from Cambridge University Press.”
“A novel by Samuel Beckett has been adapted for the stage for the first time by a University of Reading student.
Judy Hegarty-Lovett, a PhD student in Film, Theatre and Television (FTT) and an established theatre practitioner, drew on the university’s world-leading Samuel Beckett Collection to influence her direction of How It Is.
The play opened in Cork, Ireland, in February and has just finished a run at The Print Room in Notting Hill, London.”
Critics described the production of How It Is as a ‘mesmerising adaptation’ and ‘ambitious’ and ‘ingenious’.”