The Beckett Project
LaSalle, Singapore, 2016
The Beckett Project at Lasalle is a prime example of the worth of cultural and artistic collaboration, where Ireland and Singapore are creating a pragmatic dialogue with each other. The acting students in Lasalle are embodying the words and actions of an Irish writer, Samuel Beckett; expressing the universality of his writing through their specific bodies and voices. They study such a rich variety of Asian theatre practices it is a privilege to be given the chance to sculpt their bodies and conduct the rich musicality of their voices in these six of Beckett’s Shorter Plays. Singapore provides a mix of ethnicities and histories, which creates a very exciting pool from which to cast the characters within a Beckett play.
Both Act Without Words I and II are written for the bodies of the performers, who need to express the grammar not of language but of movement, as there is no verbal text, just the text of the body in space.
Beckett’s writing is as relevant today as it was when he wrote his famous play Waiting For Godot in1953. He writes not about kings and queens, politicians or the rich and powerful, but about how it is for the ordinary man surviving, minute-to-minute, as he ponders his existence on the earth. We are presenting six of his short plays, chosen to show the range of physicality and of vocal dexterity demanded from the actors who are to perform these pieces.
Both Act Without Words I and II are written for the bodies of the performers, who need to express the grammar not of language but of movement, as there is no verbal text, just the text of the body in space. The first one concerns the of Myth of Tantalus, as the Mime strives to reach the illusive carafe of water, forever beyond his reach; the second that of Sisyphus as the two characters A and B attempt to live their lives while being goaded on along the narrow path of life, never meeting each other but pulling each other along just the same. Rough For Theatre One follows the meeting between a blind man A and a wheelchair bound man B whom we find alone on a ruined street corner. It is through the deeply philosophical language juxtaposed with the imagery in this piece, that Beckett displays his bleak but razor sharp wit.
In Play all physicality is denied and the three actors are encased in urns, with only their heads exposed. The fourth character in this play is the light, which acts as their tormentor as it forces them into speech. Catastrophe, the most overtly political of these six plays was written for Vaclav Havel leading up to the time of the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia. It focuses on a Director creating his final image of a catastrophe, to be presented for public consumption. Lastly we have Come and Go, a piece of kinetic painting, it is as musical as it is visual and involves the very ‘Beckettian’ use of repetition to an almost breath-taking simplicity.