After learning about / seeing the fruits of two Irish theatre companies’ development cycles, we decided to engage in our own year-long process adapting a prose piece by Samuel Beckett to the stage. However, we immediately ran into a road block. (The Saga of the Estate), whether permanent or temporary is still TBD.
What issues the Estate has with previous adaptations is unclear – we can only guess. Digesting Beckett’s prose without words in hand is difficult – so unlike his plays, especially his shorter, later work, which rely on atmospherics, the senses, more than cognition for their meaning. To paraphrase Edward Albee, a successful production of Beckett is best measured by standing in the back of the house, eyes closed, listening to the balance of sound and silence. More might be said but Mr. Albee summed it up well.
For our work, we have chosen Beckett’s Enough, a 1-woman piece both mysterious and haunting, in which she speaks of a life-long relationship with a far older man, walking the earth, hand-in-hand, until …
Enough has been adapted to live theatre at least twice. Notably, the first was during Beckett’s lifetime, directed by his favorite American director, Alan Schneider, starring Beckett’s so-called muse Billie Whitelaw. It was staged as a reading without set or costume and was the lead piece in a triple-bill of Enough, Footfalls and Rockaby. It was again adapted for stage in the early 2000’s by Gare St. Lazare Players of Ireland. That company no longer lists it in their repertoire.
For our own effort, the actress who is both integral to the process and who will perform the piece in our workshops is Jordan Stiles (pictured above) who played ‘Mother’ in Beckett’s Footfalls, as well as a wide range of other roles for Black Mirror and in college productions.
Our plan is to: 1) slowly and carefully develop the piece, focused on the qualities which make plays such as Krapp’s Last Tape, Footfalls and Rockaby so deeply moving; 2) workshop the piece multiple times to understand the effect(s) of our efforts; 3) film the final piece; and 4) submit it to the Estate for its ultimate rejection or approval. We will not hold any public, paid performances unless and until the Estate allows us to do so.
The process of imagining is underway. Participation from any and all sides is welcome!
Schedule and Results
1st meeting, 17 December, 2017. Agenda: 1) Text exploration; 2) Physical exercises – posture, movement, strength and grace; 3) Mechanics of process; 4) assignments; and, 5) run-thru, paras 1 and 2 of text, first for expression, then for initial exploration of blocking.
Initial Views: 1) The Void; 2) The Prison Camp; 3) The Graveside Flag