Friday, June 09, 2006

Shoestring and Endgame

Samuel Beckett, one of the most significant figures in 20th century theatre, received international fame, for his first play Waiting for Godot. The play was revolutionary in its form, shocking audiences and critics alike, leading one well-known actor to lament, ‘It is the end of the theatre as we know it’. He was right: theatre was never the same after Beckett.

Beckett was soon to outdo himself in his later work, particularly in his second play, Endgame. A landmark in modern theatre, Endgame is considered a sensitive portrayal of the absurdity of the modern condition. While the philosophical undertones are integral to any Beckett play, the formalistic experimentation is far more exciting, and far more significant.

The play is constructed on the central motif of a chess game that is winding down. This motif is evident in the dialogue, imagery and action. The claustrophobic insularity of the world of Hamm and Clov also point toward this overarching motif, a game where the rules are the last resort. The element of humour, drawn from vaudeville and stand up comedy, a staple in Beckettian stagecraft, serves to intensify his bleak view of the world. Endgame displays in ample measure, the self-consciousness that Beckett’s plays have been noted for. The formal self-consciousness, or the metatheatrical elements, are perhaps most evident in the use of space, a starting point for the scenic design in our production.

Beckett has been noted for his relentless experimentation, his remorseless depiction of the modern life, and perhaps far more significantly, for his contributions to the craft of the theatre: his utilization of space and lighting, sound and visuals, and action and the plastic elements, and the seamless interweaving of the formal and thematic elements.

His efforts to expand the scope of the theatre have led to him being widely acknowledged as having been the inspiration for an entire generation of playwrights after him, including Nobel Laureate Harold Pinter.

For more information on Samuel Beckett, visit the excellent
Samuel Beckett Online Resources and Links Page
.

The farther he goes the more good it does me. I don’t want philosophies, tracts, dogmas, creeds, ways out, truths, answers, nothing from the bargain basement. He is the most courageous, remorseless writer going and the more he grinds my nose in the shit the more I am grateful to him.

Harold Pinter, on Beckett

Download a complete e-text of Endgame here.

Shoestring hopes to recreate the daring formal experimentation in Beckett’s masterpiece. We hope to reinvent the play by expanding the scope for movement, visuals and music in the play. In addition to intricate movement that will explore a unique dimension of the play, we have also conceived an exciting scenic design that will vastly expand the scope of the play. The elements of humour, the slapstick comedy and clowning, always integral to Beckett’s work for the stage, play a significant part in our interpretation of Endgame. The earthy humour makes the play accessible, immediate and vital, while the bleak setting adds poignancy to the play.

Our production of Endgame will primarily communicate the experience of the play itself – the claustrophobia, the hopeless, the absurdity, the struggle to maintain some kind of dignity in the face of this absurdity. We hope intellectual and philosophical themes will suggest themselves to the audience in hindsight, at a kind of secondary level of communication. Our production, we rather hope, will be remembered for its utilization of space, movement and the visual elements, as well as the underlying humour of its execution, rather than the philosophical underpinnings to which Beckett has unfortunately been restricted.

2 Comments:

Anonymous k said...

hello
have just moved to mumbai recently. have dabbled in theatre a bit in the past and would love to be involved with it again. Do you guys do workshops?
k

5:45 AM  
Anonymous shoestring said...

Hi K,
Yes we do.
Please contact us no: shoestring.theatre@gmail.com.
Cheers!

2:28 AM  

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