Colette Sheridan catches up with Gare St Lazare Ireland on their current production of Samuel Beckett’s How It Is:

Ploughing their own furrow and performing all over the world, GSLI feels ready to stage How It Is.

“I’ve been wanting to do it for a very long time,” says Judy. “We’re doing one part of this three-part novel. I see it as more of a translation than an adaptation.”

It is going to be a verbatim performance. But is it very grim? After all, the narrator exists in the mud-dark and ends up in solitude after the other creature disappears. The text has drawn comparisons with Dante’s image of souls gulping mud in the Stygian marsh of the Inferno.

Stephen [Dillane] says that the experience of listening to the narrator isn’t grim.

“He might perceive his situation to be grim but you trust that there’s enough going on for an audience so that their experience won’t be grim.”

And in true Beckett style, there is humour in the piece, even if it is of the black variety.

For Judy, working on Beckett’s material “is about beginning with an appreciation of the text. If you have that, that goes a long way. And you want to share it. That’s kind of enough for me; a feeling that the text could and should be heard. It lends itself very well to being said aloud like a lot of Beckett’s prose works. The approach after that is to see what it starts telling you.”

Judy adds that How It Is is “absolutely a text that can work on multiple levels.”

Evening Echo

Posted by:Rhys Tranter

Rhys Tranter is a writer based in Cardiff, Wales, UK. He is the author of Beckett's Late Stage (2018), and his work has appeared in the Times Literary Supplement, The Spectator, and a number of books and periodicals. He holds a BA, MA, and a PhD in English Literature. His website is a personal journal offering commentary and analysis across literature, film, music, and the arts.

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