Beckett In Dublin
By: S.E. Wilmer
Ireland, and in particular Dublin, was Samuel Beckett’s cradle, a place, in Eoin O’Brien’s words, he revisited ‘with the same intensity that Proust went back to Combray’. It was fitting, then, shortly after Beckett’s death, that his birthplace – through the good offices of the Gate Theatre, Trinity College and Radió Telefís Éireann – should have decided to honour the 1969 Nobel prize-winner by staging all of his dramatic productions over three weeks during October 1991 and hosting a series of visual displays, lectures, seminars and discussions by local and international scholars, friends and colleagues, of which Beckett in Dublin is the fruit.
Part One, ‘A Man of Theatre’, concerns Beckett’s stagecraft, with learned essays by his English editor James Knowlson and American collaborator S.E. Gontarski, and a lively reminiscence by French actor Jean Martin, who played Lucky in the original production of En attendant Godot in 1953.
Part Two, ‘Themes and Structures’, ranges from a feminine focus in Beckett examined by the American academic Linda Ben-Zvi, through pieces by Katherine Worth, Declan Kiberd and Rosemary Pountney, to the post-modernist reckonings of reader in English at the University of London, Stephen Connor.
Part Three, ‘At Heart a Dubliner’, reaffirms the writer’s human dimensions with recollections by his publisher John Calder and friend Georges Belmont, concluding with appreciations of Beckett as a poet and Irishman by Brendan Kennelly and James Mays.
One of the book’s most striking features is a sequence of Rembrandtesque photographs by Tom Lawlor of each of Beckett’s plays, taken at the Gate Theatre performances. They form a visual tribute to this powerful dramatist and writer.
S.E. WILMER is Director of the Samuel Beckett Centre for Drama and Theatre Studies at Trinity College Dublin.