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Samuel Beckett's 100th birthday


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#1 dirac

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Posted 11 April 2006 - 04:06 PM

Dublin celebrates Samuel Beckett's centenary year. Associated Press article by Jill Lawless via The Age.


In overwhelmingly Catholic Ireland, Beckett was Protestant, raised in the affluent suburb of Foxrock and educated at the Northern Ireland boarding school that taught Oscar Wilde.

Beckett left grey 1930s Dublin for Paris and lived in France until his death in 1989.

Some Dubliners doubt his relevance in modern Ireland.

"We call ourselves the land of saints and scholars," said Tony MacCarthy, a retired English teacher.
But young people "are only interested in English footballers. They know Beckham, but they don't know Beckett".



#2 bart

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Posted 11 April 2006 - 04:40 PM

I feel that I've actually lived in the company Krapp, Vladimir and Estragon, and especially Winnie -- my favorite of all. It's mind-boggling that their creator could write equally well in English and French. Happy birthday!

#3 SandyMcKean

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Posted 12 April 2006 - 07:51 AM

I feel that I've actually lived in the company Krapp, Vladimir and Estragon, and especially Winnie...

I can't go that far, but I do feel I've had some of the most powerful "conversations" of my lifetime with these characters (some, of course, don't even have names......but they all have existence!).

The most powerful of all for me (so far) was seeing Bill Irwin's one man performance here in Seattle a few years ago in "Texts for Nothing". Irwin took selected passages from this Beckett work and did a sort of one man "Waiting for Godot" on stage in a bleak landscape while being generally "perplexed" as he "discussed" what it was to be an "I", referring to "they", and distinguishing "here" from "there". (Texts and Godot were written within 2 years of each other.)

It was profound to me, so much so that I attended 3 performances in a row. As is so true about Beckett however, the performance was not for everyone. It is the only time I've attended the Seattle Rep Theater here in Seattle when several patrons got up and walked out mid-performance (there was no intermission; and some folks even left from the front rows in plain sight of Irwin).

Beckett is a dream come true for me. He says in language what I would have thought could be not be said.

#4 dirac

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Posted 12 April 2006 - 09:28 AM

Thank you for your comments, SandyMcKean (and bart). True, Beckett is not for everyone (but I wish that articles like the one I linked to would try to avoid the “Beckett! Hey, nobody understands him!” tone). There’s a story I like about the late George Devine of the Royal Court, who was a great champion of Beckett’s work. John Osborne reported him gazing around in satisfaction at a virtually empty house for a Beckett opus and sighing, “This is what I’m here for.”

#5 bart

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Posted 12 April 2006 - 11:14 AM

Coincidentally, this April 19 is the 50th anniversary of the Broadway premiere of Godot. There's a video available of the Burt Lahr peformance. Actors Studio put on a pproduction last fall to celebrate the anniversary, I believe.

I know New York is different from many other places in the US, but I seem to remember full houses for Beckett plays long ago -- for instance, the Irene Worth Happy Days at the Public.

The Bill Murray piece seems like a dream. I envy you your 3 performances, Sandy McKean.

#6 SandyMcKean

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Posted 12 April 2006 - 02:39 PM

bart,

Do you know where one can get that video you mention? (Is it VRC or DVD?)

I spent years looking for the video of Steve Martin and Robin Williams which I thought to exist since I had seen segments of it here and there. But I just found out a month or so ago (on a Steve Martin website of all places) that there definitely is NO video of what must have been a superb Mike Nichols production of Waiting for Godot. The video snippets are from a short marketing piece done at the time.

I do have the recent “Beckett on Film” set (all 19 Beckett works for the stage) which is just great, but I'd love to have other performances of Waiting.

P.S. While searching the net for a place to buy this Lahr video, I happened on a 1956 critic review of the production featuring Lahr. The critic, Brooks Atkinson, says the following partway thru the review.

"Although "Waiting for Godot" is an uneventful, maundering, loquacious drama....."

.......can you imagine!!!!!

(My dictionary defines loquacious as "full of trivial conversation")

#7 kfw

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Posted 12 April 2006 - 03:43 PM

Bart and Sandy, I envy you both. :) Sandy, I was fortunate enough to see that Lincoln Center "Waiting for Godot" with Martin and Williams and Irwin and F. Murray Abraham, and I loved it, more for the yuks than the darkness, although it was moving too. I remember Williams especially ad-libbing some funny bits, which I guess Beckett wouldn't have liked him doing. But if memory serves the production received mixed reviews, and perhaps that's why the proposed filming never happened.

The film with Burt Lahr I've seen at the local university library, so if you can't find it commercially available, maybe you can see it the way I did.

I also remember Barry McGovern's wonderful, chilling one-man distillation of the trilogy of novels, "Molloy," "Malone Dies,"and "The Unnameable" at Lincoln Center in '88. And my other favorite Beckett memory is the snippet of "Godot" that a couple of Trinity College students performed to call us to attention at the start of a "Literary Pub Crawl" in Dublin a couple of years ago. Wish I could get back there for the celebration.

What a great topic. Thanks, dirac.

#8 SandyMcKean

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Posted 12 April 2006 - 04:29 PM

The film with Burt Lahr I've seen at the local university library, so if you can't find it commercially available, maybe you can see it the way I did.

I have no doubt I can (and will). While looking for the Martin/William/Irwin video I worked with a librarian at the University of Washington to find it. We never did of course, but he did find me a 5 minute clip (must have been that marketing piece) in a library in NYC. When I said gulp....all the way in NYC, eh? He said no problemo. They have this "library sharing" system that allows me as a user to borrow any book, or other library asset, from nearly any library in the world, at no cost to me (ain't libraries wonderful!). I didn't take him up on it because I was looking for the whole performance.

What a great topic. Thanks, dirac.

Indeed.....thanks dirac (BTW, my degree is in physics so I know who you are :))

P.S. kfw, I just sent you replies to your PM. This is the first time I have PM'd here in this forum since I just reached 10 msgs. I wrote quite a long msg and sent it. But it never showed up in my "sent" box. Hopefully there it is waiting on something. I'd hate to think I will need to re-write my spontaneous prose!

#9 Helene

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Posted 12 April 2006 - 04:46 PM

P.S. kfw, I just sent you replies to your PM. This is the first time I have PM'd here in this forum since I just reached 10 msgs. I wrote quite a long msg and sent it. But it never showed up in my "sent" box. Hopefully there it is waiting on something. I'd hate to think I will need to re-write my spontaneous prose!

You have to check the box to the left of "Add a copy of this message to my sent items folder" at the bottom of the message, located just above the "Send" and "Preview" buttons. If you "preview," the box unchecks, and you have to check the box again.

#10 SandyMcKean

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Posted 12 April 2006 - 05:18 PM

Thanks Helene. You didn't say, but I take it then that assuming I did all else right (I hit the Send button and I got a little dialogue box that seemed to say it got sent)........that the msgs would have sent OK.

BTW, Helene, you missed quite a sweet little chance for humor in your reply. I just noticed I let myself in for a comeback when I said:

"Hopefully it is waiting on something."

You could have said: "........on Godot perhaps" :)

#11 bart

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Posted 12 April 2006 - 05:49 PM

Sandy, I'm sorry! I misspoke, confusing Lahr with Mostel, whose Godot (tv version, 1961) actually IS on video. :)

(Many would consider it a major sin to confuse Lahr and Mostel.)

I just noticed that the 1980 Irene Worth Happy Days, which I saw in New York, is available on DVD via Amazon.

#12 kfw

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Posted 13 April 2006 - 04:10 AM

Today's NY Times has a story on Beckett's American publisher, Grove Press owner Barney Rossett.

#13 kfw

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Posted 18 April 2006 - 05:09 PM

Until April 23, BBC Radio 3 is streaming a new production of "Waiting for Godot," plus another drama inspired by Beckett.


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