Announcing the third volume of the series
|A 2005 production of Samuel Beckett’s Footfalls, La Mama Theatre (Source)|
If the “great plays” are a regular part of the theatrical repertoire, Beckett’s late plays remain little known by non specialists. Thus, this third volume of our Series seeks to highlight the extreme poetic richness of these mature works, and that we can call – following their author – “dramaticules”. After a reflection on the specificity of this corpus and the questions of genre it raises, this volume examines the problematics of presence/absence, before studying the central place of the voice. Two further texts deal respectively with the presence of Dante in Beckett’s work, and the translation of his plays into Hebrew.
Llewellyn BROWN (dir.) : Samuel Beckett 3 : “Les ‘dramaticules’”, Caen, Lettres modernes Minard, collection « La Revue des Lettres modernes », Série Samuel Beckett, 2013. 335 pages. EAN13 : 9782256911736
Samuel Beckett Series 2: Essays
Beckett’s That Time / Cette fois: Production of a ‘Time Factory’
That Time is a short monologue characterized by an almost complete lack of dramatization. It perfectly expresses the process of ‘minorization’ which is at work in most of Beckett’s œuvre, with a writing that operates through indeterminacy. The ‘minor’ is not so much a question of aesthetics as that of ethics, as it signals the invention of value in the work of art. We will consider especially the place of that, a deictic that inscribes the work in the ‘here and now’ of speech.
Samuel Beckett’s ‘Dramaticules’ : a ‘Genre’ and a Form
The neologism ‘dramaticule’ refers to a corpus whose contours are ill-defined. The minimalism of these texts seems to testify to a will to espouse a universal and rigorous logic. In this respect, the ‘dramaticules’ can retrospectively shed light on certain passages of Shakespeare. This logic is related to the scission that Beckett creates between the character and his speech, between the story and the space on stage. But we can also identify moments of rupture, when the character gives voice to his subjectivity in a moment of fading.
Samuel Beckett’s Rockaby / Berceuse : a ‘Performance Poem’
Adopting a versified form, Rockaby / Berceuse traces a story whose progression manifests a rhythmic structure based on the ‘ritornello’. This composition is intended to help the feminine figure to accept death. By contrast, the astounding final ejaculation — ‘fuck life’ — expresses a depersonalised subjectivity, where the woman defies the Other. The device of the voice over calms her anxiety. This text is also a visual poem, by means of which the woman creates for herself an existence.
Beckett, a Reader of Dante
Beckett’s references to Dante are frequent, before Murphy, becoming rarer after, without losing their importance. By removing the theological dimension, Beckett reveals Dante’s pure poetic speech. Belacqua — a central character in Dante — embodies the notion of waiting, for Beckett, and is recognisable by his uterine posture. After How It Is, where he falls over into the mud, we find, in The Lost Ones, a vanquished Belacqua. Finally, Company puts an end to his presence.
Phantom Text(s) and Ghostliness in Not I (Pas moi), Rockaby (Berceuse) and Footfalls (Pas)
This article analyses the construction of ghostly figures and voices, the spatial composition and the motif of repetition, apt to express ‘haunting’ and, finally, the work on silence, in Not I / Pas moi, Rockaby / Berceuse and Footfalls / Pas. These short plays not only evoke ghostly figures but represent a process of spectralisation that affects the staging and the text, and invite us to explore the dark recesses of minuscule ‘interior lives’, incarcerated in the present and haunted by the past.
Two Experiences of Beckettian Space : Cognitive Frameworks, Sensorial Topographies
The volume Catastrophe et autres dramaticules stages two experiences, two opposing and yet complimentary representations of the expressive qualities of theatrical space. On the one hand, Beckett defines and characterises the stage as a physical and cognitive space where bodies are caught up in a sort of mechanical ballet, kinetics composed of phases of inertia or circulation. Alongside these traversed spaces and this physis of bodies on the stage, Beckett also stages, in his later short plays, another experience of space: a metaphysical one. The theatrical device loses its concrete basis to appear as a mental and memorial space.
Vestiges of the Tragic Monologue in A Piece of Monologue / Solo : Spectropoetics of ‘Je(u)’
The comparative study of A Piece of Monologue and of its French adaptation Solo reveals the loss, in the latter, of a series of pervasive allusions to the form and themes of Shakespearian tragic monologue, despite the fact that there is no more I in A Piece of Monologue than in Not I. The skull-sized globe, the recurrence of funerals, the macabre images and the very structure of the monologue are so many reminders of the spectral presence of tragic loci in Beckett’s text.
Translating Beckett into Hebrew : Navigating Following the Map of the Dead Sea
Presenting Beckett to an Israeli public — on stage and in translation — raises the question of Biblical culture, which is not the same for Jews and Christians. It is necessary to translate, for the text to be understood, but also to recreate it; the role of innovation becomes important in the case of untranslatable expressions. If other translations exist, some are too explicitly Biblical. The work of translating is extremely demanding, but also enriching from the intellectual and human points of view.
The Paradox of the ‘Ambiguous’ ‘Dramaticules’ : From the Dramatic to the Theatrical
The ‘dramaticules’ are rarely staged. This fact can be accounted for by the shift from dialogue to narrative. Performing a play without the usual form of dramatic exchange seems to increase the difficulty of staging the ‘dramaticules’, analysed by Stanley Gontarski as “textually androgynous”. This androgyny is less important than it seems at first: what can be seen as a loss of theatricality is in fact a sort of transfer, from speech to the stage directions, which turns out to be a paradigm shift in Beckett theatrical writing.
When Beckett Films… in a Play: A Reading of Solo
In Solo, of which this paper offers a detailed reading, Beckett superimposes the aesthetic paradigms of theatre, photography and film, and as he usually does, creates a continual tension between the said and the seen. Beyond the specular issues specific to Beckettian theatre, we analyse how photography and film reflect and even ward off — in the case of cinema — the work of death inside the play. Solo offers cinema as an escape from time and death against the finite presence of theatrical images.
For a Poetics of Listening in Pas moi, Pas and Berceuse: The Passion of Speech
This article explores Beckett’s poetics of listening in the French versions of Not I, Footfalls and Rockaby. It argues that these plays restore an archaic trait of classical tragedy, intended as pure evocation and pathetic performance of the actor. Opposing the liminality of listening to the dramatic action, the ‘dramaticules’ become an aural theatre, endlessly suspended between transmission and reception. These plays explore thus innovative, fluid and non-mimetic roles for the actors and the audience.
For more information about the publication, published in French, you can get in touch with Llewellyn Brown at email@example.com.