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Beckett & Beckett

...

... Beckett and Chekhov


"Birth was the death of him." -- Samuel Beckett (from Absurd Page).

What a world!

Beckett read it all -- "the Others are Hell" Sartre.

Without Beckett I won't be able to explain what is Postmodernism; in many ways he was right -- it was the end of theatre.

At least, drama-as-we-know-it.

Maybe the new technologies will give theatre a new life and will ask for new dramatic forms, but there are no new styles came to life since the sixties.

Since Beckett...

Baudrillard (simulacra), Virilio (theory of accident), Foucault (culture as disciplines), Deleuze (Rhyzomatics) are the perfect methodologies to talk about Beckett.

They are in my philosophy books-in-progress @ Tripod: Self, Tech, Post-America, POV.

Outside Links:

Beckett and/or 20th century Writers

Nobel 1969 and links

Beckett & Brecht

Book Review

Summary

"In the meantime let us try and converse calmly, since we are incapable of keeping silent." -Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot

Questions

"[James] Joyce was a synthesizer, trying to bring in as much as he could. I am an analyzer, trying to leave out as much as I can." - Samuel Beckett

Notes

Estragon: Nothing to be done.
Vladimir: I'm beginning to come round to that opinion. (Waiting for Godot) Vladimir: We met yesterday. (Silence) Do you not remember?
Pozzo: I don't remember having met anyone yesterday. But to-morrow I won't remember having met anyone to-day. So don't count on me to enlighten you.
Beckett is believed to have said that the name Godot comes from the French "godillot" meaning a military boot. Beckett fought in the war and so spending long periods of time waiting for messages to arrive would have been commonplace for him. The more common interpretation that it might mean "God" is almost certainly wrong. Beckett apparently stated that if he had meant "God," he would have written "God".

All of Beckett's major works were written in French. He believed that French forced him to be more disciplined and to use the language more wisely. However, Waiting for Godot was eventually translated into the English by Beckett himself.

Samuel Beckett also became one of the first absurdist playwrites to win international fame. His works have been translated into over twenty languages. In 1969 he received the Nobel Prize for Literature, one of the few times this century that almost everyone agreed the recipient deserved it. He continued to write until his death in 1989, but towards the end he remarked that each word seemed to him "an unnecessary stain on silence and nothingness."

Elements of Absurdist Form [Endgame]

self-enclosed settings refract rather than reflect real world
juxtapose familiar & unfamiliar, real & unreal or dream-like
characters locked into performances of habit, routine, ritual
use of repetition, stasis, repetition, dark comedy, stasis, & repetition
existential problem of identity <-> verification

Absurdism & Metatheatre

often uses theatre, role-playing, & scripting
as metaphors for (absurd) existence
as basis of form, action, language
explores performative dimension of identity
relation between self & role
self as constructed
PIRANDELLO

* Beckett & Godot ***

Spring 2006 THR UAF * Godot

3farmer.mid
avalon
capital-ship
dixieland
far-away
garry-owen
3mice
abc
chopstik
yankdood
[ sound ]

April 20, 1956 * Beckett's 'Waiting for Godot' By BROOKS ATKINSON NYT

* Samuel Beckett passed from this earth on Friday, December 22, 1989. Had he an active post-life voice (apart from the astonishing body of literary and theatrical work he left) he would likely be claiming that he had died on Christmas day. According to his birth certificate, he had made his entrance, stage left, on May 13, 1906, but he steadfastly maintained that he had been born on April 13, Good Friday-- just another strand in the playful web of contradictions strung across his life and work."I like all these lies and legends," he had said. "The more there are, the more interesting I become."

* Waiting for Godot, Beckett's most famous work, premiered in Paris in 1953, and the theater was changed forever, its limits and conventions dashed to bits. What audiences found on their innocent night out was a set consisting simply of a scruffy, barren little tree beside an equally barren country road. And there they were, Vladimir and Estragon, a pair of destitutes from the fringes of vaudeville, patiently, and not so patiently, waiting for Godot. And how long will they wait? Why, as long as it takes; until he comes; or until the end, if he doesn't come; or forever. And so it goes, this classic of twentieth-century theater, a tragicomedy in two acts, during which nothing changes, nothing happens (twice), time passes, and Godot never comes.

* Beckett was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1969, an event which caused him only embarrassment. Always the recluse, he fled in secret to a small vilage in Tunisia in order to avoid the publicity. When reporters finally tracked him down, Beckett agreed to see them only if they promised not to ask questions. One of the cameramen, obviously sensitive to Beckett's need for privacy, whispered an apology as he took his picture. "That's all right," said Beckett, "I understand."
It was his only public response to the award.

Anecdote:
[Beckett walking with a friend across a soccer field on a sunny afternoon, heading for a pub.]

Beckett: "It's a beautiful day, isn't it?"
The friend: "Yes, it makes one glad to be alive."
Beckett: "Aw now, I wouldn't go that far.."

Godot
godot.06 -- acting style

* beckett.net ***

Not I and new pages @ filmplus.org/plays --

* Beckett Mini-Plays (Catastrophe)

beckett ***

Beckett, Samuel. Waiting for Godot. New York: Grove Press, 1954. (first Engl. translation?)

* Happy Days (textbook 2005): on film 1980. [Written in English and considered Beckett's most cheerful piece, Happy Days features a woman buried up to her waist in a mound of sand. Winnie's husband, Willie, appears only occasionally from his tunnel behind the mound. Winnie's opening words, "Another heavenly day," set the tone for a long monologue which lasts until she can no longer busy herself with the contents of her enormous handbag. She follows the routine of the day praying, brushing her teeth, reminiscing about the past and endlessly trying to recall "unforgettable lines" that she has once read. By the end of the second act she is buried up to her neck, but she carries on chattering cheerfully.]

Broadway Theater Archives 1980 Kultur, VHS, $24.95

* The celebrated actor/director/master-teacher, Joseph Chaikin has long been devoted to Beckett (he both directed and acted in different productions of Endgame), and for over a quarter century has contemplated directing Happy Days. Now, forty one years after Alan Schneider's original production, Chaikin has finally followed his impulse to completion, a task made all the more imperative for him by infirmity. In 1984 Chaikin suffered a stroke which left him aphasic (a blockage of words) but still functioning. Happy Day's central image of the rising mound of physical constriction seemed all the more powerful and necessary to reaffirm.

happy days sparknotes *

Beckett Papers ***

[ more? biblio + books ]

Beckett in Directing Class script breakdown

Godot biblio notes in Directing directory

russian

godot.ru -- .


Samuel Barclay Beckett was born on Good Friday, April 13, 1906, in Foxrock, County Dublin...

* March (April 13) 2006: Go.dot -- 100 years since Sam Beckett's birth *

NYTimes news --

Emory U.

yearofbeckett.com: Arts professionals gathered in late summer of 2004 to being planning for the Year of Beckett 2006 Atlanta. In this Beckett's centennial, wee wanted to plan a festival that would celebrate both Samuel Beckett's work and the synergy of the Atlanta arts community.

"How to explain this phenomenon, given his unpromising start? That shy, melancholy Irishman, who died on December 22, 1989, would be astounded by the celebrations happening for the centenary of his birth - proof of the influence he has wielded and of the revolution that has taken place in theatrical sophistication in the last half-century."100 years and waiting: his multi-layered works are still the focus of intense academic scrutiny.
Photo: John Haynes

Godot -- School Tour Fairbanks (?)

Presentation: Internet2 (UAF)

Webshow -- "Pozzo I scene" (?) in Stagematix'06 (THR331 Directing class)

vtheatre eGroup *

In Paris, on December 27, 2005, Irishman Peter Mulligan singlehandedly opened the Beckett centenary in Montparnasse cemetery with a reading (from Cascando) in sub-zero temperature. How very Irish, celebrating the birth astride the grave, the tombstone of which is inscribed:
"Suzanne Beckett, nee Decheveux-Dumesnil, 1900 - 1989; Samuel Beckett, 1906-1989".

... A Beckett Centenary Festival will be held at the Barbican, London, throughout March, "Bringing together world-class artists to celebrate one of the greatest playwrights of the 20th century".

... Worldwide celebrations took place in 2003 for the 50th birthday of Mr Godot, the man who makes people wait interminably, and now even more attention is being given to the 100th birthday of Godot's creator, who spent the first 50 years of his life waiting to be recognised.


"Fail again, fail better"...

... "you must go on, I can't go on, I'll go on".

beckett centenary festival

BIBLIO *

NEW:

vTheatre : pomo project "After Beckett" 2006-2007 *

Small Beckett (Plays)

texts in class

"After Beckett"

2007 [web-year]

2008 R/G are Dead [ and Beckett ]

...


Sam Beckett

V: That passed the time.
E: It would have passed in any case.

Sam Beckett @ Amazon *

Endgame (Eschatological play, the ending of the world) (THR 215 DramLit)

Catastrophe (3 pages script). (THR413 Playscript Analysis)

The Theatre of the Absurd, Martin Esslin, 3rd edition, Penguin 1991 (First 1961)****

The avant-garde of the theatre and the Western World crisis: the culture. The illusions of reason. "The divorce between man and his life, the actor and his setting, truly constitutes the feeling of Absurdity." (Camus. 23)

Absurd (out of harmony) (music)
Ionesco: "Absurd is that is devoid of purpose." (On Kafka)
Anti-theatre and the End of Theatre.

From Existentialism to the Absurdity of human conditions.
Being is Nothing. Shestov on Chekhov (Creating from the Void).

Reaction: experiment in freedom. Radicalism and instant recognition.

The Grotesque, tragic farce (tradition)

The static world: waiting is the subject of the play! "Act of waiting -- to experience the flow of time." (Proust)

Devaluation of language, including writing in "foreign" language.
Repetition (Bergson and Deleuze)

Historical Note: Herbert Blau 1957 Waiting for Godot in San Francisco (First American production).

The prisoners: humans. Post-humans in PM theories.

Men of the private living, outside the theatre...

The Family Idea: family of one. The Inside and the Outside.

Review (Beckett's answer to the existential): Existence as Nothing. State of Nothing. Nothing is a Process.

Endgame

A PLAY IN ONE ACT

By Samuel Beckett

Beckett-Links

Bare interior.

Grey Light.

Left and right back, high up, two small windows, curtains drawn.

Front right, a door. Hanging near door, its face to wall, a picture.

Front left, touching each other, covered with an old sheet, two ashbins.

Center, in an armchair on castors, covered with an old sheet, Hamm.

Motionless by the door, his eyes fixed on Hamm, Clov. Very red face.

Brief tableau.

Clov goes and stands under window left. Stiff, staggering walk. He looks up at window left. He turns and looks at window right. He goes and stands under window right. He looks up at window right. He turns and looks at window left. He goes out, comes back immediately with a small step-ladder, carries it over and sets it down under window left, gets up on it, draws back curtain. He gets down, takes six steps (for example) towards window right, goes back for ladder, carries it over and sets it down under window right, gets up on it, draws back curtain. He gets down, takes three steps towards window left, goes back for ladder, carries it over and sets it down under window left, gets up on it, looks out of window. Brief laugh. He gets down, takes one step towards window right, goes back for ladder, carries it over and sets it down under window right, gets up on it, looks out of window. Brief laugh. He gets down, goes with ladder towards ashbins, halts, turns, carries back ladder and sets it down under window right, goes to ashbins, removes sheet covering them, folds it over his arm. He raises one lid, stoops and looks into bin. Brief laugh. He closes lid. Same with other bin. He goes to Hamm, removes sheet covering him, folds it over his arm. In a dressing-gown, a stiff toque on his head, a large blood-stained handkerchief over his face, a whistle hanging from his neck, a rug over his knees, thick socks on his feet, Hamm seems to be asleep. Clov looks him over. Brief laugh. He goes to door, halts, turns towards auditorium. [ endgame ]

Minimalism (as style and method)

Tragedy as comedy: "Nothing is funnier than unhappiness." (Beckett)

Texture instead of structure! Allegories (voices) instead of characters, situation instead of plot.

Without time = passing time. After the End (of Time). [See more in Post-America, POV and Self]

Beckett Site *

Beckett: "In the absolute absence of the Absolute. Hell is the static lifelessness of unrelieved viciousness. Paradise the static lifelessness of unrelieved immaculations." [465]

They were ahead of the New Wave, but nevertheless everything ended in 1968 as well...

"If I was dead, I wouldnt know I was dead. Thats the only thing I have against death. I want to enjoy my death. Thats where liberty lies: to see oneself dead." Eleuthria

... The rest of the page -- notes from the class taken by a student, Kate D'Amico, Fall 1999

BECKETT: most un-produced playwrite "Real Theatre" -- now only off-Broadway or regional theatre, if you're lucky. Chekhov is difficult, but the problem with Beckett ... Even the video which he directed personally is not that good. See notes on Endgame, etc. -- beckett.html

Shakespeare was popular in London in his time; then forgotten two centuries later (they weren't ready) until the French Century of Enlightenment: 1800's rediscovered Shakespeare. The end of the 18th century, German Romanticists brought him back.

AA: I suspect it's not Beckett's time, yet. Too advanced for us? For our technology? All his life Meyerhold (director) tried to destroy proscenium theater.(box) Russian theatre is built specifically for Chekhov, etc. Ours (UAF) is OPEN proscenium that "I need to be close to the actor as possible." Started with Chekhov, that closeness; Beckett took it to its natural end. It's not knowledge, as such, but APPLICATION; not just understanding Beckett, but being able to apply it. Beckett as magic stone. If you know how to do (play), you know everything. [Read out loud "Catastrophe" in class.] What's it about? "Dehumanizing." "It's a good thing it's next to "Endgame."

What is the "catastrophe"? Whose body is the dead body?

Assistant: Clove... Protagonist, etc. ... stereotypes

Is he a Symbolist?

Trio in charge - director (God?) Assistant - protagonist (Christ?) Luke not interested.

What is the catastrophe? God is dead? FH: 3 points of God not able to talk to each other.

Diana: Before you can de-humanize -- don't they have to be human, first?

Gary: Modernization, specialization = detachment. [ergo]

Symbolism: no names needed, only functions. Lighting: story board shots, details... Why so much emphasis on toes? when only head shows? This "light" doesn't bring anything into light! What is meant by the title "Endgame"? (Chess term--no one can win.) Why "end"? What "ended" [Civilization.]
Existentialism -- If Clove left, Hamm wouldn't exist; if there is someone else like him in the end--no good production because they play it "absurd." Plot? Character? Can I take you, the audience, with me? On the trip through drama?

The play is two hours long--maybe that's why "Catastrophe" is so short.

AA: Interpret the play IDEA (Catastrophe) delivering statement, now: "Endgame" explains it. Directed as metaphor, looking for expression: no man or woman present anymore--the WORLD HAS ENDED. To EXPERIENCE this happening! Do you believe there is an end of the world? Each individual playwright's conception, offering--and comes with their own answers. The people of 999... A.D.: everyone thought the world was coming to an end! Every science fiction video is about the end of the world--superstition.

Fifty years from now people won't feel the same way about the end of the world as we do right now.

Beckett [ .... ]

No Utopia (as in communist propaganda;) only 'dis'topia -- Coming from Russia I thought I'd find (in film) a lot of romance, erotica, etc., but mostly I'm finding science fiction doom. Ray Bradbury is a very popular sci-fi writer; boyish fantasy regarding the future. Look at "Matrix." (movie)

AA: "Denying existence of future, is contrary to our prosperity."

Mike: It's because of our prosperity... [lost thread]

AA: The minute we get "comfortable"...

Tracy: Fall is the most prosperous time, because that's when the fruit is harvested.

According to Beckett, there is no beginning -- only end. No space, time, future, possibility for changes; Just ME (definition of Hell) [egads] Time is nothing but the product of human being. No time exists outside of man.

Beck-SUM

What if:
All the time people are dying--every time somebody dies -- we die. Nobody is born to take his place. Birth doesn't exist in the world with no Time.
Time dies within us.
Time dies: we live...with the consequences. Go inside: the inner world. Your mind. Stream of consciousness-to make a world.

"Endgame?" -- the end of theatre.

Why no movement after '60's theatre? New concept, new view, etc.? Why not after 3 decades? Individual styles, yes; but not "new" styles -- only collages [mix 'n match] Different voices, techniques; but all fall back on old methods. To follow Beckett's vision/concept: his mentor: James Joyce (B. spent 15 yrs. as his secretary). Joyce thought that he was writing the books that would end novels. That's why Beckett thought the same about his plays: thought he was writing plays that would end theatre -- Anti-theatre Brecht modernist: we can change the world for the better. (theatre as tool in art.) Beckett did not think we could change the world for the better.

Is this a comedy or tragedy? Characters ridiculous! Parents in trash can, like clowns. Aristotle can be applied?

Tragic Hero: nobility falls
Comic Hero: has no understanding

Beckett is saying we can be both! How can I define this genre, tragedy with comedy, et vice versa? Both define each other. They CO-EXIST.

Repetition is a device of comedy. Tragedy leads to comedy.

Hegel: idealist with huge ego; ABSOLUTE idea, used for his own evolution, forms in history, realization levels, etc., etc. (pg. 463) to Hegle himself, Philosophy: THOUGHT HAS ITS OWN LIFE; its final form is being.

FUJIMUTA, 1994, "The End of Man & History" applying Hegle's theory to our world as we know it. Modernism: conclusion of human civilization. (p.459)

The "re-ordering" of things? Category. "Emotional time" -- RELATIVITY: Yours is different from mine, depending on where we are from each other.

beckett-reflection

We need a "mutual time."

AA: I have five references of time: clock on wall, clock on vcr, clock on microwave oven, clock on wrist, clock in car--why do we need so many time(s)?

If we don't have a method of mechanical unification...[lost thread] Why is everyone so hysterical about Y2K? Because we don't have a SENSE OF TIME.

We are all born mad. Some remain so. Waiting for Godot

Beckett: "I had little talent for happiness."

PS

Duality of genre in Beckett: comedy=tragedy. Only tragic is comic. Paradox. The same event could be seen as tragic (from inside) and comical (from outside) -- at the same time!

[ How to use B. in acting classes? Spring 2006 THR221 ]

"Beckett secured his position as a master dramatist on April 3, 1957 when his second masterpiece, Endgame, premiered (in French) at the Royal Court Theatre in London. Although English was his native language, all of Beckett's major works were originally written in French--a curious phenomenon since Beckett's mother tongue was the accepted international language of the twentieth century. Apparently, however, he wanted the discipline and economy of expression that an acquired language would force upon on him." [ from imagi-nation.com ]

Homework

Issues: Reality and Realism -- how real are our dreams? Feelings? Dream-like dramatic structure. 200 words on Endgame. Death - more in Themes directory.

NB

Must link to 200X visual economy pages. [ ]

Voices (Amazon):

-- I am a college student who was required to read the book. I am all about deep meanings in life and looking for other ways of interpeting a writers different views but i feel this book/play was a waste of thought and lacked any purpose.

-- I am loathe to badmouth anything that came from the great Samuel Beckett, but I can't bear it. Happy Days is the worst play I have ever read. It is a mundane, insipid melodrama of no merit whatsoever. The idea is weak to start with; Winnie is a middle-aged woman buried up to her waist in dirt. SWith only a few possessions and Willie, a mumbling gargoyle of sorts, to keep her company, she remains entrapped in her absurdist situation, delivering a dull monologue that swings between pathetic whining and annoying screeching. I can't even imagine that watching this play would be an any more pleasant experience. No one moves at all, and all that keeps this play "going" is Winnie's humdrum soliloquoy. It's hard to imagine that the talent behind Waiting for Godot and Krapp's Last Tape could have been responsible for this tripe. I'm a worse person for having read Happy Days, a book which only deserves the title when it is burned publicly.

[ pix ] B.Bio

...

"Beckett's dramatic works do not rely on the traditional elements of drama. He trades in plot, characterization, and final solution, which had hitherto been the hallmarks of drama, for a series of concrete stage images. Language is useless, for he creates a mythical universe peopled by lonely creatures who struggle vainly to express the unexpressable. His characters exist in a terrible dreamlike vacuum, overcome by an overwhelming sense of bewilderment and grief, grotesquely attempting some form of communication, then crawling on, endlessly." [ ]

Next: Absurdism
Beckett: Here form is content, content is form. You complain that this stuff is not written in English. It is not written at all. It is not to be read or rather it is not only to be read. It is to be looked at and listened to. His writing is not about something, it is that something itself. [On Joyces Finnegans Wake: Dante...Bruno.Vico..Joyce, 1929]

Beckett: For Proust the quality of language is more important than any system of ethics or aesthetics. Indeed he makes no attempt to dissiciate form from content. Form is the concretion of content, the revelation of a world. [Proust, 1931]

A Reader's Guide to Samuel Beckett
Book by Hugh Kenner; Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1973 * 1. Waiting for Godot : [ questia ]

The Critical Response to Samuel Beckett by Cathleen Culotta Andonian; Greenwood Press, 1998

Beckett's Dying Words: The Clarendon Lectures, 1990 by Christopher Ricks; Oxford University Press, 1995

* Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot by Harold Bloom; Chelsea House, 1987 - Modern Critical Interpretations - Waiting for Godot - Contents - Editor's Note - Introduction - Bailing out the Silence - The Search for the Self - Waiting - Waiting for Godot - The Waiting Since - The Language of Myth - Beckett and the Problem of Modern Culture - Beckett's Modernity and Medieval Affinities - Chronology

Waiting for Godot in Sarajevo: Theological Reflections on Nihilism, Tragedy, and Apocalypse Westview Press, 1998

The Death of God and the Meaning of Life by Julian Young; Routledge, 2003

Beckett at 80/Beckett in Context by Enoch Brater; Oxford University Press, 1986

Samuel Beckett by John Pilling; Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1976

Samuel Beckett and the End of Modernity by Richard Begam; Stanford University Press, 1996

All That Fall by Samuel Beckett; Grove Press, 1957

Happy Days: A Play in Two Acts by Samuel Beckett; Grove Press, 1961

Frescoes of the Skull: The Later Prose and Drama of Samuel Beckett by James Knowlson, John Pilling; John Calder, 1979

The Long Sonata of the Dead: A Study of Samuel Beckett by Michael Robinson; Grove Press, 1969

Samuel Beckett: The Language of Self by Frederick J. Hoffman; Southern Illinois University Press, 1962

Samuel Beckett, a Critical Study by Hugh Kenner; Grove Press, 1961

Early Beckett: Art and Allusion in More Pricks Than Kicks and Murphy by Anthony Farrow; Whitston Publishing Company, 1991

Re--Joyce'n Beckett by Phyllis Carey, Ed Jewinski; Fordham University Press, 1992

Images of Beckett by John Haynes, James Knowlson; Cambridge University Press, 2003

Proust, Beckett and Narration by James H. Reid; Cambridge University Press, 2003

Murphy by Samuel Beckett; Grove Press, 1957

Watt by Samuel Beckett; Grove Press, 1959

Malone Dies by Samuel Beckett; Grove Press, 1956

The Drama in the Text: Beckett's Late Fiction by Enoch Brater; Oxford University Press, 1994

Theatre on Trial: Samuel Beckett's Later Drama by Anna Mcmullan; Routledge, 1993

Happy Days

Beckett in filmplus.org/plays

list

...

Existentialism and Absurdism: Existentialism is defined by the slogan "Existence precedes Essence."



Molloy by Samuel Beckett (extract) [1/2]
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