The Saga of the Estate

The Saga of the Estate

After learning of the work of two Irish theatre companies – of their cycles of developing / adapting literature for the stage – we decided to do the same.  The possibilities inherent in such an approach are positively exciting.

Our initial thought was to work on Enough, a prose piece written by Samuel Beckett.  The piece is full of strange yet compelling imagery – a Beckett piece, for sure.  Yet it also contains a line, just one line, which is quite disturbing.  We corresponded with the company which produced the piece, with the show’s director and the actress who performed it, and were urged by all to pursue it – if we could get the blessing of the Beckett Estate.

We could not.  That was a bit of a shock.  The Estate, through it’s North American agent, said the piece had not been well received in the past and they, therefore, preferred that it not be performed any longer.

Thinking (assuming, a dangerous thing) the Estate’s reluctance may have had something to do with reaction to this one disturbing line, we then proposed a 2nd Beckett piece, Stirrings Still – another of the Nobel Laureate’s haunting, beautiful, mysterious prose works.

Again, the Estate said no.  This time with a fuller explanation.  The Estate, through its agent, said they felt that allowing adaptation of the author’s prose work in the past had been a mistake and that they were resolved to never allow it to occur again.  So, no …

We had only ever seen one company’s adaptation of one piece and found it to be interesting, tastefully and beautifully wrought.  Having worked ourselves on a student version of Stirrings Still, the notion of investing a year in thoughtful, carefully designed experimentation is – was – exhilarating.  But, alas …

The notion of taking a deep dive into every aspect of a piece of literature – with lighting, sound, dance / movement, costume, set, music, props both animate and inanimate, makeup, voice over, projection, on and on and on – it draws one irresistibly to its light … discarding that which distracts, which does not heighten the ‘soul’ of the piece … retaining, enhancing that which does …

The work will go on.   We, Black Mirror – our desires, interests, regardless of how ‘pure’ the intent – we don’t count.  The keeper’s of Sam’s words must do as they deem best to protect the author’s legacy.   No one who cares about Beckett’s work would want otherwise.  But, we haven’t given up – not yet.  If we take our best shot, privately, so as to not violate a trust, and provide the fruits of our efforts to the Estate for a final adjudication … well, we shall see.