Upcoming Conference: Draff at Trinity College Dublin, August 2016



5th–6th August, 2016

Trinity College Dublin


Keynote speakers:
Mark Nixon (University of Reading)

Dirk Van Hulle (Universiteit Antwerpen)



Call For Papers

Deadline for abstracts: 15th November, 2015



‘I don’t suppose many people know what “Draff” is, but if they look it up, they will be put off.’

Charles Prentice to Samuel Beckett (25th September, 1933)


As suggested by his original title for More Pricks Than Kicks (1934), and proved by the pochades, roughs, foirades, and (un)abandoned works of his mature œuvre, works often presented by their author as being no more than the run-off from the creative process, Beckett was anything but put off by draff. The same can surely be said of the scholars who have long devoted themselves to studying Beckett’s aesthetic engagement with the seemingly worthless.

In recent decades, however, Beckett Studies’ fascination with the residual has taken a much more literal meaning as the field, as well as its perception of Beckett and his art, has been reshaped by unprecedented access to the refuse, dregs, and lees of a voluminous archive, as well as the blackened pages of forgotten diaries and private correspondence. Despite, or perhaps because of, this flood of fresh effluvia, however, particular aspects of, and questions pertaining to, Beckett’s canon have been left unexamined, understudied, or wholly ignored.

Taking place next year in Trinity College Dublin, two decades after Damned to Fame (1996) opened a new chapter in Beckett scholarship, this bilingual conference invites proposals for 20-minute papers, in English or French, from prospective delegates who, sharing Beckett’s conviction in the value of what is left behind, are keen to pick through the ends and odds of Beckett Studies:

  • Why, for instance, does Beckett’s poetry continue to attract so little critical attention?
  • The nature of Beckett’s relation to Joyce and Proust has provoked much debate, but what are we to make of Beckett’s lesser-studied literary influences (e.g. Burton, Camus, Dostoevsky, and Hölderlin)?
  • What are the correspondences between Beckett’s writing and the lesser-studied cultural and political spaces in which he lived and worked, such as France during the Franco-Algerian war?
  • As we deepen our awareness of the role played by the visual arts in Beckett’s work, what might that same work have owed to his keen ear for music and his love of certain composers (e.g. Beethoven’s pauses, Schubert’s Lieder)?
  • At a time of increasing interest in the bilingual Beckett, what was the role of Beckett’s lesser-known languages (e.g. German, Latin, Spanish) and, as we come to a better knowledge of Beckett’s own work as a translator, what might there be to gain in examining how Beckett’s art has been reimagined by those translators – and performers – who have made his words heard in languages he himself did not speak (e.g. Chinese, Dutch, Polish)?
  • With the approaching publication of the German Diaries and the final volume of Beckett’s letters, to what uses can and should scholars put the inestimable trove of material represented by the biographic archive?
  • How might the publication of such (auto)biographic material affect our appreciation of Beckett’s canons – the published, the ‘grey’, and the emerging? Where within this continuum should we situate the work he consigned to the wastepaper basket or, indeed, the ‘old shit’ he allowed to be republished?

Abstracts of no more than 300 words, in English or French, as well as a short bio of no more than 150 words, should be sent to conference organisers Stephen Stacey and James Little at draff2016@gmail.com no later than 15th November 2015. Whilst prospective delegates are encouraged to consider those topics outlined above, proposals for papers addressing any heretofore under-analysed aspect of Beckett’s ‘literary waste’ are warmly welcomed for this two-day conference, during which both Beckett’s and Beckett Studies’ disjecta membra will be dragged into the ‘pestiferous sunlight’ of scholarly discourse.

For further information and conference updates, please consult the conference website: draff2016.wordpress.com. There you will also find information on the association between this conference and the Samuel Beckett Summer School (www.beckettsummerschool.com), taking place in Trinity College Dublin from 8th–12th August, 2016.


CFP: Staging Beckett and Contemporary Theatre and Performance Cultures


Conference Call for Papers


Staging Beckett and Contemporary Theatre and Performance Cultures


Minghella Building, University of Reading 10-11 April 2015

The Staging Beckett team is pleased to announce the project’s third and final conference, Staging Beckett and Contemporary Theatre and Performance Cultures. Building on the conversation begun at the first two events which addressed national and international performance histories and productions at the cultural ‘margins’ respectively, this conference aims to address how we can locate productions of Beckett’s theatre or the staging of any Beckett text within the wider landscape of contemporary theatre and performance in different cultural contexts. What are the legacies of productions of Beckett’s theatre or stage adaptations of other texts for contemporary theatre and performance practitioners? How can we best document and record those legacies? We are keen to hear from academics and practitioners (whether UK, Irish or international) interested in the legacies of particular performances, the documentation and analysis of Beckett in performance, and in the dialogues between Beckett’s theatre and wider theatre and performance practices and cultures. Issues to consider might be, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Recent productions of Beckett’s drama
  • The ‘Festivalisation’ of Beckett
  • ‘West End’ Beckett
  • Beckett and Contemporary Live Art / Experimental / Intermedial performance
  • Beckett and Censorship
  • International touring productions to the UK and Ireland (e.g. Robert Wilson and Peter Brook) or from the UK and Ireland (e.g. the Dublin Gate Theatre’s Beckett Festival)
  • Beckett and contemporary stage design / dramaturgy
  • Beckett, performance and the digital
  • The adaptation / appropriation of Beckett’s non-theatre texts for performance
  • Beckett and music in performance
  • Beckett’s legacies for performance

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 (AHRC). The project explores the impact of productions of Beckett’s plays 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 which will be available in 2015.

Please send proposals of c. 300 words to p.mctighe@reading.ac.uk by December 1, 2014

Staging Beckett team: Matthew McFrederick (Reading), Anna McMullan (Reading), Trish McTighe (Reading), David Pattie (Chester), Graham Saunders (Reading), David Tucker (Chester).

Staging Beckett at the Margins

Congratulations to the Chester University branch of our project on the recent Staging Beckett at the Margins conference and our thanks to David Pattie and David Tucker for hosting. Thanks too to all the delegates who contributed to the event and showed once again the richness and diversity that characterizes international productions of Beckett’s work. Adding to the list of international locales which we saw discussed at Reading in April, we heard theatre surveys from Cyprus, Romania, and the city of Los Angeles, learning also of the malleability of the figure of Godot as metaphor across the history of Israeli theatre production in Shimon Levy’s talks. We heard accounts of the work that happens outside the UK’s major metropolitan cultural hubs at, for example, the West Yorkshire Playhouse, as discussed by Mark Taylor-Batty and even within them, as our own Matthew McFrederick’s discussion of Beckett’s time at the Riverside Studios revealed.

We had two keynotes, different but complementary: Carl Lavery connected an ecological understanding of theatre with the forms of attention which Beckett’s work demands of its audiences, calling up them to witness the undoing of time and subjectivity in the theatre as ‘garden’. The wonderful Tricia Kelly talked not only of the process of creating her role for Not I (in six days, no less) but gave us a captivating reading of the play, leaving us all spellbound and pinned to the spot by the frantic energy of her embodiment of Mouth. A recording was made of her talk and will be made available in the future via the Staging Beckett website.

And congratulations also to David Tucker on the very successful ‘Seeing Beckett’ exhibition, which was launched as part of the conference. Contributors were invited to make a piece of visual art responding to Beckett’s work. The results were sensitive and compelling pieces which fit beautifully into the conference theme, giving us a sense of the aesthetic fertility of the unseen, the hidden, the subtle and of course, the marginal. The exhibition can be seen at the Liverpool School of Art & Design from the  27th – 31st Oct 2014 as part of the Liverpool Irish Festival.


Upcoming Beckett Events at the University of Reading

From the University of Reading:

We will be holding an exhibition and series of public events to celebrate the University’s internationally renowned collection of manuscripts from the Nobel Prize-winning writer Samuel Beckett (1906-1989).

Wednesday 1 – Saturday 4 October
Public Exhibition: “Samuel Beckett in London – the Murphy Notebooks”. 
Museum of English Rural Life (free).
At this exhibition, which will focus on Beckett’s time in London between 1934 and 1935, the University’s recently acquired notebooks for Beckett’s novel Murphy will be on display alongside a wide range of other material.

Thursday 2 October
Beckett Archive Workshop. 
2-4pm, Museum of English Rural Life (free). Please book in advance.
Open to all, this free two-hour workshop will introduce the University’s Beckett archive to participants. It is open to any interested members of the public, but places must be booked in advance.

Friday 3 October
Public Lecture and Drinks Reception: Professor Dan Gunn – “Samuel Beckett Through his Letters”.
5.30pm, Minghella Building, Whiteknights Campus (free). Please book in advance.
Dan Gunn is Professor of Comparative Literature and English at the American University of Paris, and editor of the Letters of Samuel Beckett.

Saturday 4 October
The Beckett International Foundation Annual Research Seminar 2014. 
10am, Museum of English Rural Life (£20 waged, £15 unwaged). Includes lunch and refreshments. Please book in advance.
This day-long advanced seminar will explore some of the latest research in Beckett Studies.

For further details and booking please contact:
Workshop and/or Lecture: Conor Carville – c.carville@reading.ac.uk
BIF Seminar: Mark Nixon – m.nixon@reading.ac.uk

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: