“It’s all poetic, Walter…”

 

Walter Asmus in conversation with Nick Johnson for the second Staging Beckett public talk at the Beckett Summer School.

Walter Asmus in conversation with Nick Johnson for the second Staging Beckett public talk at the Beckett Summer School.

On Thursday 14th August 2014 we were delighted to have Walter Asmus in conversation with Dr Nick Johnson for our second Staging Beckett public talk as part of this year’s Samuel Beckett Summer School at Trinity College Dublin.

As Nick wittily put it, Walter has directed Beckett’s drama in ‘all of the world’s inhabited continents’. These productions range from Waiting for Godot at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York to Breath in Russia. In his illustrious career Walter has directed 17 of Beckett’s plays available for the stage-indeed Walter was quick note to the large audience in attendance that the exceptions so far have proved to be Play and Catastrophe.  This week he returned to London for the final rehearsals of Not I/Footfalls/Rockaby as it plays this week at the Southbank Centre, ahead of its UK and international tour. (For further details visit: http://www.royalcourttheatre.com/whats-on/not-i-footfalls-rockaby-uk-tour)

Staging Beckett team members, Matthew McFrederick and Professor Anna McMullan, alongside Walter Asmus and Dr Nick Johnson at the TCD Beckett Summer School.

Staging Beckett team members, Matthew McFrederick and Professor Anna McMullan, alongside Walter Asmus and Dr Nick Johnson at the TCD Beckett Summer School.

Indeed this recent production, as well as Walter’s experiences working alongside Beckett and his approach to Beckett’s drama as a director led to an insightful discussion in Trinity’s Long Room Hub.

Walter’s conversation with Nick followed an earlier screening of his recent film of What Where, which also showed a documentary of how the film was made at the University of Western Sydney.

In the coming months Walter’s interview at the TCD Samuel Beckett Summer School will be posted on our soon to be launched AHRC Staging Beckett website.

Our second Staging Beckett conference at the University of Chester will host our next public talk with the actress Tricia Kelly. Tricia will talk about her career in the theatre, including her performance as Mouth in Not I at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.

‘Staging Beckett at the Margins’ takes place from 11th-12th September 2014 at the University of Chester and will focus on perceived notions of Beckett at the margins, on productions staged outside London and other major theatrical centres. To register, please visit: http://www.chester.ac.uk/staging-beckett

 

Beckett Events in Belfast

As a gateway event for the Happy Days Beckett Festival in Enniskillen, the Linen Hall Library Belfast is hosting several Beckett-related activities this week.

Tonight, actor Frankie McCafferty will talk about his work performing in Prime Cut’s Endgame, together with a excerpts from Beckett’s work performed  by C21 Theatre Company.

More information and tickets here.

Tomorrow the Library will host a Beckett Colloquium with the following speakers:

Conor Carville on ‘Beckett, Ireland and the 1930s’;
Mark Nixon on ‘Samuel Beckett’s Echo’s Bones’;
Dr Kathryn White (UU) ‘Know Happiness’: Beckett’s Late Works;
Dr Eamonn Hughes (QUB) on ‘Beckett’s Post-war Prose’; and
Dr Sam Slote (Trinity College Dublin) on ‘The Connections Between Beckett and Joyce’.

More information and tickets for this event here.

Throughout these events the ‘Becoming Beckett’ exhibition of materials from the Reading University archives is at the Linen Hall and free to the public:

“For the first time ever in Belfast, a selection of Samuel Beckett’s manuscripts, memorabilia and letters from Reading University’s renowned Beckett Collection will be displayed. Beckett (1906 – 1989) is recognised as one of the most influential writers of the 20th century and a key presence in the ‘theatre of the absurd’ genre. There will also be readings, talks and dramatic performances.”

 

McCafferty as Clov. Prime Cut, 2006

Staging Beckett Public Lecture: Walter Asmus at TCD

In an event jointly organised by the Staging Beckett project and the Samuel Beckett Summer School, director Walter Asmus will be speaking about his work  on the 14th of August at 1pm.

More details at http://www.beckettsummerschool.com/

Having just completed a run at the Galway Arts Festival, Not I, Footfalls and Rockaby with Lisa Dwan and directed by Walter is at the Mac, Belfast September 2-6, and will run at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in October.

 

Registration now open for ‘Staging Beckett at the Margins’

From the conference  organisers:

“Our second conference, to be held at Kingsway, University of Chester, 11-12 September 2014, will focus on perceived notions of Beckett at the margins, on productions staged outside London and other major theatrical centres. What has the impact of Beckett’s drama been upon regional, small national, touring and marginal theatrical practices and cultures? What is at stake when staging Beckett in marginal cultures or lesser-known geographical areas? How does Beckett’s work move from a country’s capital city to its regions? Does Beckett’s work speak to national, or local, cultural contexts? How does it fit within established theatrical, cultural and economic infrastructures?

Keynote presentation by Professor Carl Lavery (University of Glasgow).

We have speakers coming from all over the world to talk about these topics and we expect this international aspect of the conference to be particularly productive. We hope to see you there!”

Conference organisers: Professor David Pattie & Dr David Tucker

For more information and to register:

http://www.chester.ac.uk/staging-beckett

 

 

“Performing the Archives” Conference

Some information below about an upcoming conference on the status and use of performing arts archives at NUI, Galway:

 

 

 

“Performing the Archives” Conference

NUI Galway 2015

22 – 24 July 2015

 

In 2013, the Abbey Theatre and NUI Galway launched ‘A Digital Journey through Irish Theatre History’ – the digitization of the Abbey Theatre archive, the largest theatre archive digitization project ever attempted. When this project is completed, more than 1 million items including scripts, costume designs, prompt books and performances will be available to study for generations of scholars to come. Theatre scholarship is being transformed at NUI Galway.

This conference capitalizes on NUI Galway’s unparalleled strength in Irish theatre and literary archives, taking advantage of other holdings including the Druid Theatre, Lyric Theatre Belfast, Taibhdhearc na Gaillimhe, Thomas Kilroy, Siobhan McKenna and the Galway Arts Festival, among others, to facilitate a national and international conversation about the place of archives in not only theatre and performance research and teaching, but arts practice and perception of theatre history more broadly.

By emphasizing a collaborative approach between the archive service of the James Hardiman Library, academic staff of the Drama and Theatre Department, School of English, NUI Galway, as well as fostering and creating engagement between NUI Galway students, scholars and theatre practitioners and with wider national and international research community, this event will showcase NUI Galway as a hub for research in theatre and drama as well as a world leader in innovative research technologies and digital humanities.

Coinciding with the Galway Arts Festival, the conference will immerse participants in the living performance culture of Galway as the Galway Arts Festival links together artists from around the world to mount Ireland’s largest international arts festival. Through working with further campus-city relationships, such as the Druid Academy, Galway – its University and City, as well as the west of Ireland will be shown to be a cultural landmark as well as an innovator in leading collaboration.

The conference will primarily be based in the new Hardiman Research Building, providing a base to showcase the central research point on campus for the Humanities as well as linking into adjacent exhibition space, providing an access point for local and visiting scholars to experience why the Hardiman Building is a critical and crucial exponent for encountering research and fostering discovery on campus.

“Performing the Archives” will gather together scholars, artists and archivists engaged in working with archival materials on research and performance projects to explore the uses and possibilities of the archive today from theoretical and methodological perspectives. We will debate:

  • What is the status of archival research methodologies in published research and graduate training today?
  • What are the possibilities of collaboration between researchers and practitioners working together to remount work based on the archives or research on new material? What working models exist and what have yet to be imagined?
  • How has the digital humanities begun to reshape the possibilities of archival engagement?
  • How can we support the labour of not only archival research methodologies but the maintenance of the archives themselves? How does the holding location of archives (university vs. community archive) affect the circulation of these resources?  How can partnerships be expanded or reimagined?
  • How has the cataloguing of new/recent archives contributed to new learning and change?
  • ‘From Stage to Street’ – Connection of archives, theatre and society: Documentary theatre and socially responsive theatre
  • Theatre, Peace and Conflict – How memory of theatre and conflict, especially that of Northern Ireland, is newly understood and experienced through the archives and contributing to resolution and reconciliation
  • The craft of the playwright: Drafting, editing and writing for stage or radio

 

For more information, contact Barry Houlihan (barry.houihan@nuigalway.ie)

or Charlotte McIvor (charlotte.mcivor@nuigalway.ie).

http://www.library.nuigalway.ie/collections/archives/

http://www.nuigalway.ie/drama/

http://nuigarchives.blogspot.ie

@NUIGarchives

@NUIGDrama

https://www.facebook.com/nuiglibrary

https://www.facebook.com/groups/NUIGDrama/

 

 

Publication: Last Tape on Stage in Translation Unwinding Beckett’s Spool in Turkey

One of the most exciting aspects of our recent conference was the opportunity to get a sense of  the variety of work being done on Beckett’s drama internationally – courtesy of our many international delegates. Continuing in this vein, I would like to draw attention to a publication by one of our conference delegates, Burç İdem Dinçel, which addresses translated productions of Krapp’s Last Tape in Turkey.

 

Picture of Last Tape on Stage in Translation

From Cambridge Scholars Publishing:

Samuel Beckett’s theatrical works maintain a prominent position within contemporary theatre. His plays provide a prodigious potential to study several forms of acting, staging, and dramaturgy, as well as language and translation, thereby setting a fertile ground to tackle the problematic issue of the relationship between theatre criticism and theatre-translation criticism. That is precisely what this study aims at by drawing attention to the fundamental characteristics of translated theatre texts as blueprints for productions and taking several aspects into account from directing to acting, from staging to performance, together with the language factor. To that end, Burç İdem Dinçel focuses on one of Beckett’s significant plays, namely, Krapp’s Last Tape, situating it within the author’s oeuvre and along the way scrutinising not only the theatrical pieces but also the prose. By looking into the Turkish translations and productions of the play, this book brings forth a new dimension into approaching theatre through translation.

For more information and a sample chapter, click here.

For purchase at Amazon UK/ USA

 

From the Archives: Peter O’Toole in Waiting for Godot

Born in 1932 in Connemara (or so he claimed), O’Toole passed away in December 2013 at the age of 81. Much has been written about his career of late: he was as notorious for his drinking as much as for his career decisions – his choice, for instance, to take parts in less than top quality films at the point in his career when he was gaining respect for his Shakespearian roles on the stage. This actor lived a life marked by a refusal to accept the mainstream, a reputation for being difficult and demanding, and for enjoying the odd tipple.

Later claiming Waiting for Godot to be his favourite play, it was during the early days of his career that O’Toole played Vladimir (Bristol Old Vic, 1957). Patrick Stewart, who has recently played the part to international acclaim, speaks of O’Toole’s performance as inspirational for him as a then budding drama student.[1] O’Toole played the role again at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin in 1969 – the first time the play was performed at this theatre. The story which was doing the rounds prior to this production was how O’Toole had been turned down by the Abbey company in the early days of his career due to the fact that he didn’t have enough Irish. Though, as Desmond Rushe of the Irish Independent wrote, when asked about this, Ernest Blythe denied this ever happened.[2] It is unclear from the news record whether or not the story is apocryphal, although it is mentioned by several reviewers.

The production was well-received, although some reviewers wondered somewhat cynically, who was the greater draw: O’Toole or Beckett. [3] The Irish Times commends the skilled variety style performances of both Donal McCann and Peter O’Toole, and how the latter refrains from showing his star quality virtuosity. The set (Norah McGuinness) together with Leslie Scott’s lighting conveyed ‘all the desolation of Beckett’s wasteland’.[4]

Beckett tried to prevent this production happening, but succeeded only in limiting it to one month and preventing it from becoming a repertory piece.[5] James Knowlson suggests various reasons for this antipathy, from his feelings about Ireland, a personal dislike of O’Toole and a never-forgotten grudge against Alan Simpson for changing the opening lines of the play in 1955. While the Irish reviewers were positive, if cynical, about the casting of a star actor, Beckett reports to Con Levanthal with some satisfaction Mary Manning-Howe’s view of the production as ‘appalling’ and ‘O’Toole-ridden beyond redemption’.[6]

Peter O’Toole, Donal McCann and Danny Figgis went on to play the same roles in a 1971 production of the play, directed by Frederick Monnoyer, at the Nottingham Playhouse.

 


[2] ‘An Abbey Waiting for Beckett.’ The Irish Independent, 6 November, 1969. University of Reading Archives, Stage Files, MS 1792, f687.

[3] ‘A Great Year for Actors.’ The Irish Independent, 4 January 1970.  University of Reading Archives, Stage Files, MS 1792, f973.

[4] ‘Memorable “Godot” at the Abbey.’ The Irish Times, 2nd December, 1969.

[5] William Hutchings, Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot: A Reference Guide (USA: Praeger, 2005), p. 87.

[6] Damned to Fame, pp. 566-7.

Fellowship congratulations!

Congratulations from the Staging Beckett team to our colleague at Reading, PhD student Matthew McFrederick. In the last few days, Matthew has learned that he has been offered a fellowship to study at the Harry Ransom Center in Austin, Texas, as part of the AHRC’s International Placement Scheme. I feel sure that he will return to us with wonderful new material.

Congratulations and best of luck for your research Matthew!

Call for Papers – Staging Beckett at the Margins

University of Chester, 11-12 September 2014

Staging Beckett is a three year collaborative research project undertaken by the universities of Chester, Reading, and the Victoria & Albert Museum which started in September 2012, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. The project explores Beckett’s impact on British and Irish theatre practice and cultures while also looking at how Beckett has been staged internationally, and it is compiling a database of professional productions of Beckett’s plays in the UK and Ireland.

Our second conference, to be held at the University of Chester, 11-12 September 2014, will focus on perceived notions of Beckett at the margins, on productions staged outside London and other major theatrical centres. What has the impact of Beckett’s drama been upon regional, small national, touring and marginal theatrical practices and cultures? What is at stake when staging Beckett in marginal cultures or lesser-known geographical areas? How does Beckett’s work move from a country’s capital city to its regions? Does Beckett’s work speak to national, or local, cultural contexts? How does it fit within established theatrical, cultural and economic infrastructures?

We are keen to hear from academics and practitioners interested in how Beckett has been, or might be, staged in areas beyond the major theatrical centres of London, Dublin, Paris, New York, Sydney, Tokyo, etc. Issues to consider might be, but are not limited to, the following:

Theatre and local politics

Cultural marginalisation

Small-scale productions

Amateur productions

Planned productions that failed to be realised

Festivals

Beckett in Scotland

Beckett in Wales

Beckett on tour, nationally and internationally

Beckett as a marginal author

Beckett and subaltern cultures

 

Please send proposals of c. 150 words to stagingbeckett@chester.ac.uk by 31 May 2014.

Staging Beckett at Reading 2014

A big thank you to all those who participated in the Staging Beckett conference at the weekend. We had delegates from around the world – Norway, Turkey, Hungary, Poland, USA, Brazil, India and of course Ireland and the UK, and it was very exciting to get a sense of the rich and varied approaches to Beckett’s drama and the ways in which the drama continues to resonate within these unique cultural contexts.

Thank you also to our wonderful keynote speakers. Professor Brian Singleton of Trinity College, Dublin spoke eloquently about Dr Sarah Jane Scaife’s site-specific productions of Beckett’s drama, specifically the ways in which this work has made visible the overlooked spaces of Dublin city, and their ignored and often homeless inhabitants. Dr Scaife herself shared a keynote panel with actress Lisa Dwan and director Natalie Abrahami. They each spoke of the various routes by which they came to Beckett’s drama and how their work has developed; our conference was greatly enriched by the insights of these practitioners and scholars.

Most of all however, thanks go to those who made the event possible: organiser Prof Anna McMullan and assistants Tom, Nick, Shonagh and Niamh.

We look forward to meeting you all again at the University of Chester in September – a call for papers to follow shortly – and/or at Reading next year!