Plays


Beckett On Film – List

Act Without Words One

Written in French in 1956, Act Without Words I is a mime, as the title suggests. A man sits in a desert and struggles to reach a flask of water and other objects, which remain stubbornly out of reach. Yet despite his continual disappointment…

Act Without Words Two

Written in French in 1956, Act Without Words II is a 10-minute mime involving two players, ‘A’ and ‘B’, who are in two large sacks on the stage. Beckett specified ‘violent’ lighting and extended the notion by having the players prodded into action by a ‘goad’.

Breath

Breath was written in 1969 in response to Kenneth Tynan’s request for a piece for his show Oh, Calcutta, which featured a series of risqué sketches. It lasts less than a minute. On a set full of rubbish, a person cries out, then breathes in again….

Catastrophe

Written in French in 1982, Catastrophe features a theatre director and his assistant arranging a protagonist, who stands on a black block submitting to their direction. ‘D’, the director, wears a fur coat and matching toque (a kind of hat) and smokes a fat cigar. He has only a short amount…

Come and Go

Written in English in 1965, this piece has only 121 words in all. Beckett’s note to the text is almost twice as long. Three women meet in a softly lit place. Seated on a bench facing the audience, they reminisce about old school days. Each woman leaves the stage briefly, and during each absence…

End Game

Endgame was written in French in 1957. Hamm, who is blind and unable to walk, and Clov, Hamm’s servant, occupy ‘a bare interior’. Nagg and Nell, Hamm’s parents, are in dustbins in a corner, and sometimes pop up to talk. Clov looks out of the two small windows with a telescope. The world outside seems…

Footfalls

Footfalls was written in English between March and December 1975. May, wrapped in tatters, paces back and forth engaging in conversation with the disembodied voice of her mother. In the second scene, May’s voice becomes subsumed into her mother’s. She paces ever more slowly…

Happy Days

Written in English and considered Beckett’s most cheerful piece, Happy Daysfeatures a woman buried up to her waist in a mound of sand. Winnie’s husband, Willie, appears only occasionally from his tunnel behind the mound. Winnie’s opening words, ‘Another heavenly day’, set the tone for a long monologue…

Krapp’s Last Tape

In Krapp’s Last Tape, which was written in English in 1958, an old man reviews his life and assesses his predicament. We learn about him not from the 69-year-old man on stage, but from his 39-year-old self on the tape he chooses to listen to. On the ‘awful occasion’ of his birthday…

Not I

Not I, written in English in 1972, features an actress seated on stage with just her mouth spot-lit. The mouth then delivers a long stream of consciousness. Evasion is the principle theme, as is highlighted by Beckett’s note to the text in which the mouth’s chief endeavour throughout the play…

Ohio Impromtu

Ohio Impromptu, written in 1980, opens with a figure clad in black with long white hair hiding his face and sitting on a white chair at a white table. There are two characters, the Reader and the Listener. The Reader, it emerges, is a mysterious messenger from someone now dead and once loved by the Listener…

A Piece of Monologue

In A Piece Of Monologue, written in English in 1979, a speaker tells a fragment of a story about birth and death, in which the narrative details almost match those visible to us as the theatre set. The play dramatizes a successive loss of company…

Play

Play was written in English in December 1963.

Three urns stand on the stage. From each, a head protrudes – a man and two women. The play tells the story of a love triangle, and each character narrates a bitter history and their role in it. On the stage, each head is provoked into speech by an spotlight…

Rockaby

In Rockaby, which was written in English in 1980, an old woman dressed in a black evening dress rocks herself in a rocking chair while listening to her own recorded voice. The story tells of the character’s seeking for another ‘a little like’ herself, in the outside world…

Rough Theatre I

Written in French in the 1950s, Rough for Theatre I features a blind man (‘A’) and a physically disabled man (‘B’) who meet by chance and consider the possibility of joining forces to unite sight and mobility in the interests of survival. Each once had a woman and now has no one to help him…

Rough Theatre II

In Rough for Theatre II, written in French in the 1950s, two men, ‘A’ and ‘B’, try to assess the life of ‘C’, who is standing motionless, with his back to the audience, ready to jump out of the window. A and B review his life with mass documentation as though he were not present…

That Time

Similar to the formal experimentation of Play, That Time, written in English between 1974 and 1975, intercuts three monologues from three separate periods of time in the experience of one character…

Waiting for Godot

Waiting for Godot was written in French in 1949. In the first scene, two men, Vladimir and Estragon, wait on a lonely country road for an appointment with Godot. After a while Pozzo enters, leading Lucky on a rope. They talk. Godot fails to arrive. The second scene is a mirror image of the first…

What Where

In What Where, written in English in 1983, four characters appear at intervals, all dressed in the same long grey gown with the same long grey hair. Bam controls and interrogates the others, sending them off ‘to confess’ to an unnamed crime…