“This issue covers performances in the US (among them the Happy Days Renaissance Theaterworks production in downtown Milwaukee and Richard Sullivan Jr.’s Waiting for Godot in Providence, RI), Australia (Mark Byron reviews the Red Line Productions’ staging of Krapp’s Last Tape at the Old Fitz Theatre in Sydney), London, Paris and Dublin. We have rich resources to rethink the Beckett oeuvre in the context of contemporary music, as the Farmleigh Music and Arts festival and the What is the Word… concert organised by Benjamin Dwyer at the Centre Culturel Irlandaise in Paris show. A panel on the Battle of Ideas Festival at the Barbican, the role played by Beckett in shaping the “Fail Better” series of the Poet in the City at Wilton’s Music Hall in London, and an account of number of symposia keep demonstrating Beckett’s continuous cultural importance…”
— Extract from the joint President’s Address from Daniela Caselli (sitting president) and Laura Salisbury (president elect).
Our new issue of The Beckett Circle is extremely rich. Professor Jim Knowlson talks to the well-known British actor David Neilson about the very different fates of two of Beckett’s most famous manuscripts: Murphy and Waiting for Godot. I had the great pleasure of seeing David Neilson act in Endgame here in Manchester, and the Society is delighted to host this dialogue. The ‘Happy Days: Enniskillen International Beckett Festival’ of 2019 takes centre stage in our issue. In its seventh edition under the guidance of Artistic Director Sean Doran, it has offered a rich programme: in this issue, Feargal Whelan’s interviews Clara Simpson’s bilingual production of Pas Moiand Not I, and Emma Keanie reviews her performance – both will speak to those among us interested in translation not only on the page but also on stage. Brenda O’Connell and Sean Walsh review what sounds like a spectacular interpretation of Come and Go, Catastrophe, and Quad by the Mark Morris Dance Group. I’d like to draw your attention also to Sheila Mannix’s review of How It Is (Part 2) by Gare St Lazare Ireland at The Everyman in Cork.
This volume aims to study Samuel Beckett’s style in the mirror of his letters. Since 2009, four volumes of his letters have been published by Cambridge University Press: Volume I, 1929-1940 (2009); Volume II, 1941-1956 (2011); Volume III, 1957-1965 (2014) and Volume IV, 1966-1989 (2016). They have also been translated into French and published by Gallimard between 2014 and 2018. In spite of an originally imposing corpus, only a selection of around 2 500 (L1, xx) have been reproduced, but these letters give an idea of the evolution of the epistolary style of the author of Godotand Molloy, from the 1930s through to the 1980s. Written in English, French and, to a lesser degree, in German, the letters are addressed to numerous correspondents: friends (Tom MacGreevy, Ethna MacCarthy) and collaborators (Jérôme Lindon, Robert Pinget); close relations (Barbara Bray) or occasional correspondents, like David Hayman or Matti Megged.
We announce the upcoming Samuel Beckett Society conference, to be held in Spain from 9-11 May 2019; Catherine Fahy contributes an essay/review of György Kurtág’s operatic adaptation of Endgame; James Brophy reviews the recent Beckett and the Nonhuman/Beckett et le Non-Humain conference in Brussels, while Eleanor Green reflects on the most recent Samuel Beckett Society annual conference. José Francisco Fernández reviews Anthony Cordingly’s recent volume, Samuel Beckett’s How It Is: Philosophy in Translation; Amanda Dennis takes a look at Jean-Michel Rabaté’s Think Pig!; and Michael Coffey assesses James McNaughton’s recent monograph, Samuel Beckett and the Politics of Aftermath.
There are tributes to George Craig, who died in March of this year. His colleagues on the editorial team of The Letters of Samuel Beckett reflect on the loss of a dear friend and colleague, while Gabriel Josipovici shares the eulogy that was delivered at Craig’s funeral service.
Finally, this issue shares a rich number of theatre reviews from across the world.
Authorised Beckett biographer James Knowlson shares a previously unpublished interview with John Beckett; Feargal Whelan talks to writer, director and translator Marek Kedzierski about the beckett@111 festival; and much, much more.
“The Samuel Beckett Society conference which is taking place in Mexico City next week is providing the inspiration for various initiatives to promote the study and appreciation of the author in the region. Among the most important, and potentially most influential, is the creation of a non-profit organization to coordinate all things Beckett within the country. Conference organizer Luz María Sánchez Cardona explains the idea behind the initiative: ‘It will be called Beckett.Mexico and it will draw in information on all performances, seminars and activities throughout the country.’ She explained that the organization would not be based in any one institution but would operate as a general hub for all those interested in maintaining a connection with the author, both inside and outside the academy. While the specific details of the organization are to be announced during the conference and formalized in its wake, Luz was keen to advertise a particular component of the project and make a direct appeal to attendees next week. ‘One big problem we have is access to books.’ For many reasons, academic texts relating to Beckett’s work are thin on the ground. ‘Whenever I’m abroad in Great Britain, or Denmark say, I always try and bring new texts back with me’, she adds. ‘We want to build a resource of as many books as possible which can allow access to all of those attached to the non-profit organization.’ With this in mind she is appealing to conference attendees to bring a book and donate to the project. Initially, books which would be donated would be housed on permanent loan to a dedicated area in the library of the Universidad Autónoma Metripolitana, Lerma until a suitable space is acquired for the Beckett.Mexico project.
The aims of the Samuel Beckett Society include the promotion of scholarship and understanding of the works as widely as possible. A project which helps scholars in any way, particularly in new places of interest, must be a good thing. We urge all those attending to think about supporting the cause by finding room in their luggage for an extra book if at all possible.”
“This book draws on the theatrical thinking of Samuel Beckett and the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze to propose a method for research undertaken at the borders of performance and philosophy. Exploring how Beckett fabricates encounters with the impossible and the unthinkable in performance, it asks how philosophy can approach what cannot be thought while honouring and preserving its alterity. Employing its method, it creates a series of encounters between aspects of Beckett’s theatrical practice and a range of concepts drawn from Deleuze’s philosophy. Through the force of these encounters, a new range of concepts is invented. These provide novel ways of thinking affect and the body in performance; the possibility of theatrical automation; and the importance of failure and invention in our attempts to respond to performance encounters. Further, this book includes new approaches to Beckett’s later theatrical work and provides an overview of Deleuze’s conception of philosophical practice as an ongoing struggle to think with immanence.”
— Palgrave Macmillan
“[James McNaughton’s] Samuel Beckett and the Politics of Aftermath explores Beckett’s literary responses to the political maelstroms of his formative and middle years: the Irish civil war and the crisis of commitment in 1930s Europe, the rise of fascism and the atrocities of World War II. Archive yields a Beckett who monitored propaganda in speeches and newspapers, and whose creative work engages with specific political strategies, rhetoric, and events. Finally, Beckett’s political aesthetic sharpens into focus.
Deep within form, Beckett models ominous historical developments as surely as he satirizes artistic and philosophical interpretations that overlook them. He burdens aesthetic production with guilt: imagination and language, theater and narrative, all parallel political techniques. Beckett comically embodies conservative religious and political doctrines; he plays Irish colonial history against contemporary European horrors; he examines aesthetic complicity in effecting atrocity and covering it up. This book offers insightful, original, and vivid readings of Beckett’s work up to Three Novels and Endgame.”
“Beckett’s Intuitive Spectator: Me to Play investigates how audience discomfort, instead of a side effect of a Beckett pedagogy, is a key spectatorial experience which arises from an everyman intuition of loss. With reference to selected works by Henri Bergson, Immanuel Kant and Gilles Deleuze, this book charts the processes of how an audience member’s habitual way of understanding could be frustrated by Beckett’s film, radio, stage and television plays. Michelle Chiang explores the ways in which Beckett exploited these mediums to reconstitute an audience response derived from intuition.” — Palgrave Macmillan