Beckett Extravaganza

In 1991, Michael Colgan, artistic director of the Gate Theatre in Dublin, produced a Beckett Festival – all nineteen of Beckett’s stage plays (minus Eleuthéria), performed to rave reviews and then imported to London and New York. During this time he began to consider the idea of turning all of the plays into films. Eventually connecting with filmmaker Alan Moloney, the “Beckett on Film Project” was finally realized in 2000-2001: nineteen films by nineteen different directors, each charged with adapting their play to the demands of film while adhering to Beckett’s careful directions.

From The Modern Word

Oh, wait. I don’t have anything to add. This is the only comprehensive collection of Beckett plays on film, and the Gate Theater productions got raves, so it seems at least worth hassling your local library to get a copy. Or maybe get your Friendster friends to all chip in on a copy you could pass around (that’s in the “Friendster must be good for something” category).

I will add, I guess, that Bill Irwin did a Beckett piece (Texts for Nothing) at the Seattle Rep a few years ago, and all appearances were that Irwin, God love him, just can’t act. I also saw him in a production of Scapin at Cirlce in the Square Theater in New York a few years ago, that he directed, and it didn’t stand out either, unfortunately. He seemed to have no sense at all of where the laughs were supposed to be coming from. Of course, easy for me to say. And, who knows, maybe the problems were limited to these particular productions. Acting is hard, after all.

But Irwin, a former professional clown who got his break on Northern Exposure, is an amazing physical actor and comedian. There would be these moments in the middle of the Beckett piece, where he would suddenly do something physical, and it would just be amazing. And my brother has long raved about a thing he did in New York years ago, called “Largely New York,” that was, apparently, brilliant. But, again, it was mostly physical comedy.

Well, these are my thoughts on Bill Irwin. How did we get here, exactly?


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