Beckett & the Contemporary Irish Theatre Sector

Samuel Beckett, the Gate Theatre Dublin, and the Contemporary Irish Independent Theater Sector: Fragments of Performance History

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Professor Anna McMullan and Dr. Trish McTighe on Beckett and, among others, Pan Pan’s productions of his work: “For Quinn, Beckett’s radio drama offers an opportunity to produce a kind of total art work, one which is a collaboration between himself as theater director and the sound designers, visual artists, and/or sculptors”.

Photo by Ros Kavanagh

Photo by Ros Kavanagh

“The research in this paper draws on data from a project funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council on Staging Beckett, a collaboration between the Universities of Reading and Chester in partnership with the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. The project began in 2012 and is compiling a number of research resources on professional productions of Beckett’s plays in the UK and Ireland, including a database, website, and interviews with theater practitioners.[8] Since the cultural and political environments of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland are distinct—due, for instance, to the impact of the Troubles and the Peace Process in the north, and to the rise and fall of the Celtic Tiger economy in the Republic—this essay will limit its focus to productions in the twenty six counties, with particular emphasis on Dublin.[9] However, we are also attentive to the limitations of national frameworks, and to the crosscurrents and influences across the north and south of Ireland, the UK and beyond, particularly evident in tours, or in cast members and creative and technical personnel who may have worked across productions. There are also many connections—through performers such as Olwen Fouéré, for example—between earlier productions and more recent productions of Beckett’s drama, and between productions of Beckett in the main theaters of the Abbey and the Gate, and those in the independent theater sector.”

Read the full article in Breac: A Digital Journal of Irish Studies.

[8] Staging Beckett: The Impact of Productions of Beckett’s Plays in the UK and Ireland is a three year ARHC-funded project which runs from 2012 to 2015. It is compiling a database of all professional productions of Beckett’s plays in the UK and Ireland, with accompanying research resources. The project will hold conferences on Constructing Performance Histories of Beckett’s theater (April 2014 in Reading), Beckett in the Regions (September 2014 in Chester) and Beckett and Theatre Cultures (April 2014 in Reading). This article’s authors share responsibility in the project: Anna McMullan is Principal Investigator on the project, and Trish McTighe is a postdoctoral researcher. Other team members include Matthew McFrederick (Reading), David Pattie (Chester), Graham Saunders (Reading), and David Tucker (Chester).

[9] Future research will document and analyze productions of Beckett in Belfast, Cork, and Galway, in addition to those in Dublin, and, where possible, those in other regions.