The soundtrack for film Winter Sleep includes only five minutes of music: the opening passage of Schubert’s A-major Piano Sonata no. 20, Andantino, repeated in moments suggesting the main character’s Bildung and introspection. As the film progresses, this musical signal takes on increased narrative weight; its repetition adheres to a growing sense of the damage this character’s privilege enacts on his wife and on the families who owe him rent. Drawing on Irina Rajewsky’s recent work on transmedial movement, this paper argues for repetition and accumulation as narrative strategies across media, while pointing out the material associativity unique to music – in this case a Schubert passage that, in its broken-record replication, exposes the cost of traditional European bourgeois values in a Turkish household as patriarchal as it is ‘western’. Here music does not intensify an emotional-narrative arc but adds a critical dimension to dialogue and visual storytelling.
The chapter deals with the motif of substitution in the play, Before the play, the child Astyanax has been saved by the substitution of another child to be sacrificed in his place. During the play the major characters attempt to resolve conflicts by offering themselves as substitutes or other people as substitutes for themselves. The chapter integrates the theme of substitution within a larger context of bargaining, evoked by the vocabulary of purchase, and set against an impossible ideal of disinterested magnanimity and of retribution.
Beckett insisted that his radio plays were specific to the medium for which they were intended, having been written for voices, not bodies. Re-routing them to other media is a problem he could not have foreseen but one that is now made exigent by the subsequent advent of new technologies and the virtually total absence of radio as a medium for drama. Adaptations of them for stage and digital technologies can increasingly be expected to happen and need to be encouraged. But how to revive them and under what circumstances? I have no answers, but will use his first radio play, All That Fall to set a framework for discussing the issues in the spirit of John Cage’s remark in another context: ‘Permission granted, but not to do anything you want’.
The radio play began as itself an adaptation of drama to a new broadcast technology. But radio producers quickly began to discover that the new medium was not merely a means for transmitting an ancient artform but an opportunity to use the new medium to create original forms of specifically aural drama more akin to music than to its theatrical origins. Adapting the radio plays for the stage and for contemporary forms of multimedia performance rescues them from oblivion by returning their dormant voices to drama’s origins in the theatre. It is not a displacement, but a revival.
By placing Beckett’s insistence on their genre specificity as radio drama in this historical and theoretical perspective, I will not eliminate the intractable problems of extracting them from their broadcast specificity, but might contribute to a more general understanding of the problematics of cross-genre productions that extend beyond either radio or Beckett.