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Abstract

After first developing a taxonomy of intermedial prose performance based on distinctions in how an audience member or user experiences the work phenomenologically, this essay offers a performance history of some unusual translations, adaptations and intermedial responses to Samuel Beckett’s novel How It Is. Examples range widely across media, from the audio recordings of Patrick Magee to the experimental jazz records of Michael Mantler, and from the recent stage work of Gare St Lazare to the art installation of Mirosław Bałka. Such works reflect the experimental character of the novel itself, forcing a reconsideration of the discourse of the ‘unperformable.’

In: Samuel Beckett Today / Aujourd'hui

Abstract

Though widely cited in scholarship and criticism, Samuel Beckett’s admonitions to actors across several of his plays to perform in a ‘toneless’ manner or ‘without colour’ (see Germoni and Sardin, 2012) belies some of the complexity involved in actually voicing Beckett in performance. There are also numerous testimonies that point in the opposite direction from ‘toneless’, since Beckett as a director also emphasised musicality, rhythm, depth, timbre, range, breath, and specificity in relation to actors’ voices. Drawing on a consciously ‘vocal’ form — the philosophical dialogue — this contribution collects the insights gained by two Dublin-based practitioners. They reflect on how their experiences of studio practice, actor training, and theatre directing might point towards a more complex reading of the Beckett ‘voice’ in performance.

In: Beckett’s Voices / Voicing Beckett

As a central component of the July 2014 BLAST at 100 symposium in Trinity College Dublin, the organisers commissioned the first performance of Wyndham Lewis’s famously “unstageable” play Enemy of the Stars. This challenging text blends images, extended prose, and theatrically “impossible” stage directions with more conventional dialogue. Working with the 1914 published BLAST version as an exclusive source, directors Nicholas E. Johnson and Colm Summers collaborated with undergraduate actors, designers, and technicians to create a site-specific and semi-immersive experience of the play. Rather than a theatrical performance in the conventional sense, this was practice-as-research, presenting the experimental outcomes that emerged from theatre artists grappling with Lewis’s 1914 text. This essay sets out to explore the questions, methods, insights, and results that arose during the process of creating the performance, as well as providing documentation, critical analysis, and reflection from both directors. Methodologically, this essay will address the significant potential of performance as a strategy of literary investigation, including for texts that are not inherently dramatic. Finally, the pedagogical and political potential of this method within modernist literary studies and the contemporary university is explored, given the intensive involvement of students at every level of the process.

In: BLAST at 100

As a central component of the July 2014 BLAST at 100 symposium in Trinity College Dublin, the organisers commissioned the first performance of Wyndham Lewis’s famously “unstageable” play Enemy of the Stars. This challenging text blends images, extended prose, and theatrically “impossible” stage directions with more conventional dialogue. Working with the 1914 published BLAST version as an exclusive source, directors Nicholas E. Johnson and Colm Summers collaborated with undergraduate actors, designers, and technicians to create a site-specific and semi-immersive experience of the play. Rather than a theatrical performance in the conventional sense, this was practice-as-research, presenting the experimental outcomes that emerged from theatre artists grappling with Lewis’s 1914 text. This essay sets out to explore the questions, methods, insights, and results that arose during the process of creating the performance, as well as providing documentation, critical analysis, and reflection from both directors. Methodologically, this essay will address the significant potential of performance as a strategy of literary investigation, including for texts that are not inherently dramatic. Finally, the pedagogical and political potential of this method within modernist literary studies and the contemporary university is explored, given the intensive involvement of students at every level of the process.

In: BLAST at 100
In: Beckett’s Voices / Voicing Beckett
In: Beckett’s Voices / Voicing Beckett
In: Beckett’s Voices / Voicing Beckett
In: Beckett’s Voices / Voicing Beckett
In: Beckett’s Voices / Voicing Beckett
In: Beckett’s Voices / Voicing Beckett