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Beckett in Performance


  • Page extent: 288 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.532 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 792.9/5
  • Dewey version: 19
  • LC Classification: PR6003.E282 Z7538 1989
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Beckett, Samuel,--1906-1989--Dramatic production

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9780521365499 | ISBN-10: 052136549X)

Replaced by 9780521423793


This book takes a critical look at the work of one of the twentieth century's most influential playwrights from the viewpoint of those whose job it is to give the work life on stage. From personal experience of over seventy productions, from interviews with numerous Beckett actors and directors, and in rare conversations with the playwright himself, Kalb addresses such fundamental questions as: Is the task of performing Beckett categorically different from that of performing other forms of theater? Is the audience's role different, and if so, how? The result is a new insight into particular problems of producing Beckett's early and late works, television plays, and prose works adapted for the stage.


List of illustrations; Acknowledgements; 1. Introduction; Part I. Acting: 2. Rockaby and the art of inadvertent interpretation; 3. Considerations of acting in the early plays; 4. Considerations of acting in the late plays; Part II. Directing: 5. Underground staging in perspective; 6. Eh Joe, Dis Joe, He Joe: toward a television icon; 7. The gamble of staging prose fiction; 8. Conclusion: the question of context; Part III. Conservations: Notes; Bibliography; Index.


"This perceptive, personal history of viewing Beckett's plays in production, supplemented by interviews with those artists who acted in and directed them, aims at articulating a poetics of Beckett performance." Choice

"...the breadth and depth of [Kalb's] survey of a good-sized sample of those who have devoted themselves to realizing Beckett upon the stage (and screen and radio) give his book enormous value even as an introduction, albeit a special kind of introduction, to his theatre....The result of Kalb's delineation of Beckett's uniquely disciplined existential drama will, for many, be the discovery of an artist whose achievement was even larger and more original than they had thought. For others, there will be much to contend with in these pages, but no one who seeks to understand the process and the experience of his art upon the stage can afford to ignore them." John Swan, Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism

"...the book has provided for the first time a theatrically driven analysis of the work of this century's greatest playwright." Rick Davis, Theatre Three

"In his close attention to production values and in his ability to move from specific performances to general ideas about the nature of theatre and of interpretation, Jonathan Kalb presents a much needed addition to Beckett criticism." Linda Ben-Zvi, Essays in Theatre

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