19 April 2016

CFP: Samuel Beckett's Dystopias

Call for Papers
Billie Whitelaw as Winnie in Samuel Beckett's Happy Days
South Atlantic Modern Language Association (SAMLA)
Jacksonville, FL
4-6 November 2016

In Samuel Beckett’s literary landscapes, readers and viewers find dark, barren spaces, crippled characters, haunting voices, and an overall sense that there is “Nothing to be done” (Waiting for Godot). The hope that appears in the presence of a boy or a few leaves on a tree is soon negated by the shake of a head or the absence of a long awaited arrival. Beckett’s worlds are full of ashes and bones in which men and women are exiled and isolated; they are depleted, lonely spaces; they are dystopian spaces.

Abstracts of 250 words or less that explore Beckett’s stage plays, teleplays, prose fiction and poetry in relation to this topic are welcome.

Please send abstracts to Dr. Katherine Weiss at weisk01@etsu.edu by 1 June 2016.
22 March 2016

Samuel Beckett Society Announcement

On elections and panel proposals
Dear Members of the Beckett Society

I have so far only received a handful of votes for the election to the executive board of the society. Can you please cast your vote by 8 April, so that the results can be announced at the 2nd Beckett Society conference in Antwerp next month. Further details are available on the relevant page of the recent Beckett Circle (‘Elections to the Executive Board of the Samuel Beckett Society’).

Also, I have yet to receive any panel proposals for the 2017 MLA Convention in Philadelphia. As an allied organization, the Society has one guaranteed panel at the convention and can sponsor a further panel (which will be evaluated by the MLA Committee). Unfortunately the deadline is imminent – we need to submit panels proposals by 1 April 2016. Furthermore, we are also asking for panel proposals for the 2017 SAMLA conference. Again, details are available in the most recent issue of the Beckett Circle (under ‘President’s Address’).

I look forward to hearing from you.

With best wishes
5 October 2015

Poughkeepsie Beckett Festival

Cunneen Hackett Arts Center, 16-25 October 2015
OCTOBER 16-25 2015

Cocoon Theatre, the resident professional theatre company at Cunneen Hackett Arts Center, moved there from Rhinebeck to be closer to the diverse community of Poughkeepsie. With a mission to engage and serve the underserved of all ages through the performing arts, Cocoon has developed a compelling festival of programs to promote cultural literacy, connections and conversation.

‘HAPPY DAYS’by Samuel Beckett
A drama in two acts, first produced in 1961 in New York
Starring Marguérite San Millán and Doug Woolley

Winnie, buried to her waist, follows her daily routine and prattles to her husband, Willie, who is largely hidden and taciturn. Her frequent refrain is “Oh this is a happy day.” Later, in Act II she is buried up to her neck, but continues to talk and remember happier days.

Director’s note The first time that I saw happy Days I thought Winnie chose to deceive herself.
How could she not see what was so palpably entrapping her?
Why would she make no effort to get out of her situation?
She chose rather to complain, play with her few possessions, and engage in endless conversations mostly with herself. If she is an illustration of our common human condition, then what are the mounds we are individually and collectively sinking into?
Fear, Callousness, Poverty, Ignorance?
Andrés San Millán

6 Public Performances: OCT 16-25 FRI & SAT 8 PM, SUN 3 PM
TKTS: $25

Free and open to the public!
OCT 18 “Why Beckett? Why Now?”

Beckett’s work (Waiting for Godot, Endgame) is often, unfairly described as “difficult” or “inaccessible” or “depressing”. In fact, Beckett’s work speaks clearly and humorously to the human condition and is enjoying a revival in these days of social media, Twitter and snapchat.

  • Dr. David Tucker, Oxford and Chester Universities, international expert on Staging Beckett
  • Shona Tucker, MFA, Vassar College
  • Dr. Miriam Felton-Dansky, Bard College
  • Dr. Tommy Costello, Dutchess Community College
  • Andrés San Millán, Marguerite San Millán, Doug Woolley
OCT 25 ‘Why Students Should Choose The Arts?’

Featuring local high school and college students who have chosen an arts pathway. At this time when education seems to favor Science, Technology and Engineering, many pundits believe that we short-change the arts at our peril. A panel of students will address the challenges and joys of making the arts their primary focus and passport to success.

OCT 21, WED, 10 AM TKTS: $10

Featuring the work of local artists and student artists from Mill Street Loft and elsewhere, based on the theme of being trapped, shut in, constrained.
Cunneen Hackett Gallery.
Opening Reception Fri. Oct. 9 at 6 pm. Free.
Runs thru Oct. 25.

Andrés San Millán
845 452-7870
845 663-6273
andres@figureartscape.com Cocoon Theatre Creative Director www.cocoontheatre.org
1 August 2015

Beckett and Havel Double-Bill

28 July to 15 August 2015
Blue Rider Group presents a Samuel Beckett and Václav Havel double bill.

Catastrophe by Samuel Beckett

CATASTROPHE sees a theatre director and his assistant arranging a protagonist, who stands on a square plinth, bare-footed, his head bowed - submitting to their direction. This Havel-like captive, silently wills the audience into an awareness of his predicament...

Private View by Václav Havel

Invited over for drinks by his friends, Ferdinand tries to enthuse over Michael and Vera's newly refurbished flat. But as the couple express the perfection of their marriage and lifestyle, the tone develops into a personal attack on him, his home, his wife and his work as a writer. As the abuse builds to a climax, he tries to leave...

Both plays are dark, tense and in parts cruelly funny.

Private View was first performed by Blue Rider Group as part of the RADA Festival, 2014.

Catastrophe, was written in 1982, and dedicated to Václav Havel, then a political prisoner in Czechoslovakia, serving a four and a half year sentence for ‘subversive activities’.

We believe this is the first time these plays have been presented as a double bill. [Read More]
31 July 2015

Samuel Beckett Featured on BBC's Artsnight

Available for UK residents to watch online
James Knowlson with Richard Wilson and the BBC Artsnight team at the University of Reading.

About the show

For his edition of Artsnight, actor Richard Wilson, star not only of One Foot in the Grave but also Waiting for Godot, shares his love for a playwright recently described as 'probably the most influential artistic figure of our time' - Samuel Beckett.

How does this highly experimental, avant-garde playwright speak to us today? Summer 2015 will see a peak of Beckett-mania with two festivals dedicated to this extraordinary writer. Richard Wilson explores some of Beckett's key works, including Godot and Krapp's Last Tape, which he performed last year to rave reviews.

He travels to Enniskillen, where his hero went to school, for the 2015 International Beckett Festival, and hears from fellow actors Ian McKellen, Juliet Stevenson and Hugo Weaving, as well as acclaimed director Robert Wilson. Lisa Dwan, who has made Beckett's notoriously difficult play Not I her signature piece, celebrates the playwright's love of the female voice. [Watch on BBC iPlayer]

Matt McFrederick on Artsnight

One of the real joys of the working on the Staging Beckett project has been the opportunity to meet and discuss Beckett’s theatre with the practitioners, who have contributed to the 60 year history we (the Staging Beckett team) have been uncovering. Believe it or not, on Monday 13th July another unique opportunity arose as I got to meet the renowned actor and director Richard Wilson, when he travelled to the Beckett Collection at the University of Reading.

Richard was in Reading to interview the University’s Emeritus Professor and Beckett biographer James Knowlson, and view many of the original items stored in the archive concerning the performance history of Waiting for Godot. Their interview will form part of the next episode of BBC’s Artsnight – dedicated to Samuel Beckett – which will air on Friday 31st July at 11pm on BBC2. This programme will be presented by Richard and includes interviews with Jim as well as some of the foremost practitioners of Beckett’s drama including Hugo Weaving, Lisa Dwan and Juliet Stephenson, as well as a visit to the Happy Days Enniskillen Beckett Festival in Northern Ireland. [Read More over at Staging Beckett]

16 July 2015

Beckett and Contemporary Art

Edited by Rob Reginio, David Houston Jones, and Katherine Weiss
We are seeking contributions for a volume on Samuel Beckett and contemporary art to be published by Ibidem Press, distributed by Columbia University Press, as part of their new Beckett in Company Series. We aim to collect essays on the intersection of contemporary art and the drama, poetry, and prose of Samuel Beckett as well as interviews with and new documentation by working artists who draw upon or are inspired by Beckett's work. We are not seeking essays that cover Beckett's study of painting, his art criticism, nor his connection to modern artists of the first half of the twentieth century. We hope this collection will open new ground in Beckett studies and in the study of contemporary art by tracing Beckett’s influence in the work of artists post-1945 until the present day.

Possible topics for contributions may be
  • Explorations of Beckett's formal experiments in drama, poetry, prose and other media as contemporary, parallel revisions of modernism's theoretical presuppositions congruent with trends like Minimalism and Conceptual Art.
  • Explorations of specific contemporary artists’ dialogues with Beckett’s plays, prose or poetry in their art practices
  • Investigations of Beckett and his work as reference points in contemporary aesthetic debates
Please send abstracts detailing your proposed essay or interview. If proposing an interview, please indicate whether the artist-in-waiting has already agreed to the interview.

Please send a 300 word abstract, a brief bio, and any questions to: reginio@alfred.edu by 1 November 2015.
26 May 2015

Beckett and Modernism

2nd Conference of the Samuel Beckett Society
Beckett and Modernism
2nd Conference of the Samuel Beckett Society
27 - 30 April 2016, University of Antwerp

Keynote speakers:
James Knowlson
John Pilling

About the Conference
The year 2016 will mark the 40th anniversary of the Journal of Beckett Studies (JOBS), founded in 1976 by James Knowlson and John Pilling. To celebrate this occasion, we are proud to announce both of them as keynote speakers at the second conference of the Samuel Beckett Society, dedicated to Beckett and Modernism. Sometimes referred to as ‘The Last Modernist’, Beckett has also been situated within the postmodern canon. After a long critical debate, the term ‘modernism’ has recently been reframed by a vibrant field of what is sometimes called the ‘new modernist studies’, and the term ‘Late Modernism’ seems to be gaining currency in Beckett studies. At the same time, several critics have called into question not only the criteria underlying these labels but also the act of categorization itself, the danger being in ‘the neatness of identifications’, as Beckett warned his readers from the start. Therefore, with this second conference of the Samuel Beckett Society, we would like to move beyond the point of labelling and examine the different ways in which Beckett interacted with the broad intellectual and artistic climate commonly referred to as ‘modernism’, taking Susan Stanford Friedman’s ‘definitional excursions’ into account: ‘Modernism requires tradition to “make it new”. Tradition comes into being only as it is rebelled against. Definitional excursions into the meanings of modern, modernity, and modernism begin and end in reading the specificities of these contradictions.’
Call for Papers

Beckett’s formative years coincided with the first publications of several modernist masterpieces. While the importance of Joyce and Proust for Beckett’s work has been widely recognized, his dislike of T. S. Eliot has perhaps been taken too much at face value. One aspect of Eliot’s poetics that Beckett would have agreed with is the importance of the literary tradition for modern writing. As his lectures on ‘The Modern Novel’ at TCD, his early essays and the hundreds of books in his personal library confirm, authors from the previous centuries were central to his twentieth-century poetics. One question to ask is how Beckett used that literary tradition to ‘make it new’, not only in his novels, but also in his plays and poems. Even though Virginia Woolf is entirely absent from his work, he did share her interest in the mind. How different is Beckett’s approach from Woolf’s attempt to ‘look within’, and how does his own exploration of the mind relate to the ‘inward turn’ generally associated with Modernism, and to the recent revision of this concept by David Herman (2011)?

That Beckett was fascinated by the material traces of cognitive processes is shown by his careful preservation of drafts, notebooks or marginalia, and we are still learning how these reading and writing traces in turn continued to shape his own thinking. Beckett was not only interested in the mind and the self, as his psychology notes confirm, but also in the nature of representation. While his familiarity with Mauthner’s Beiträge has received much attention, the influence of Sartre, Bergson, Husserl, Heidegger, Frege, Russell and Wittgenstein on Beckett’s notion of linguistic skepticism and phenomenology still deserves more attention. His work is also informed by his familiarity with numerous other cultural aspects: for instance, his knowledge of the visual arts, both modern and classical, acquired especially during his German trip in the late 1930s and through his friendship with Duthuit and his work on transition; the importance of early cinema, attested by Beckett’s reading of Rudolf Arnheim’s Film in 1936, cannot be ignored; the non-visual medium of radio is another modern artform that he explored, around the same time when he listened to dodecaphonic music with Avigdor Arikha.

Like many of the Modernists, Beckett asked himself what it meant to write in a modern sense, as a young TCD lecturer in 1930. He pondered the question for the next sixty years in his writing, and this conference aims to distill answers from the rich body of work he left behind.

The CFP for the second conference of the Samuel Beckett Society invites abstracts that could focus on, but do not need to be limited to, topics such as:

• Modernist Minds
o Phenomenology and representation (Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, …);
o Analytic philosophy and language (Frege, Russell, Wittgenstein, …);
o Psychology and the self (psychoanalysis, Gestalt psychology, …).
• Modernist Poetics
o Beckett’s Manuscripts
o Linguistic scepticism
o Beckett and the ‘Modernists’ (Joyce, Proust, Woolf, Eliot, Flann O’Brien, …)
o The modern novel
• Modernism and Literary Tradition
o Intertextuality
o Beckett’s reading traces (library, notebooks, etc.)
o ‘Make It New’
• Modern Art
o Early cinema, radio broadcasting, technological revolution
o Painting and sculpture
o Experimental music
o Theatrical innovation
• Modern Times, Modern Spaces
o Beckett and politics
o Cosmopolitan/metropolitan Beckett

Abstracts (max. 300 words) should be sent to olga.beloborodova@uantwerpen.be
Deadline 15 September 2015. Notification of decisions by 30 October 2015. For more information about the conference contact dirk.vanhulle@uantwerpen.be
24 April 2015

Samuel Beckett: Archive, Text & Performance

A new Masters Degree programme to be launched at the UK's University of Reading
Starting in October 2015 on this innovative new taught MA programme you will study with world-leading Beckett experts based at the University of Reading. Here you will engage in advanced archival research techniques using the extensive holdings of the University’s world-leading Beckett Archive, applying these skills to the analysis of Beckett’s writing and directing practice. The MA will provide the opportunity to explore the complex and fascinating interdisciplinary dimensions of Beckett’s work across a variety of media including film, theatre, television and radio.

The programme’s flexible modular structure is designed to develop both specialist and broad-based knowledge within Beckett’s ‘literary’ work in the novel and poetry as well as his performance work. Both are intrinsic to the degree, but can also be pursued separately. The MA allows an opportunity to engage in practical explorations of Beckett’s performance work across media using the excellent multimedia facilities housed in the Minghella Building on the University of Reading’s main Whiteknight’s campus.


The MA comprises of three taught modules and a written dissertation/ or practice as research project.

Compulsory Modules
  • Beckett & the Archive
  • Multi-media Beckett
  • Written Dissertation or Practice as Research Project
Optional Modules
  • Beckett & Modernism
  • Beckett & Politics
  • Performing Beckett
  • Full-time: 12 months
  • Part-time: 24 months


Written assignments, presentations and where relevant practical work.

Further Information

Please contact our convenors:

Professor Steven Matthews (Department of English) s.matthews@reading.ac.uk
Dr Graham Saunders (Department of Film, Theatre & Television) g.saunders@reading.ac.uk
17 April 2015

International Beckett Season

June 2015 · Barbican, London

A month-long season comprising nine theatrical pieces that span almost thirty years of Beckett’s career. Uniting theatre companies from across the world, the Barbican invites you to pick and choose from a range of the artists’ work; from prose and radio plays to immersive experiences and site-specific adventures.

Students can access half-price tickets to selected performances of the season, please see the ‘Ticket Info’ tab of each show page for more information. 

Waiting for Godot

Sydney Theatre Company
4–13 June 2015, Theatre
Bickering, joking and musing on the profound, Beckett's comic duo try to find ways to pass the time; their endurance a reminder of humanity's talent for resilience. [More]


Olwen Fouéré
5–8 June 2015, Frobisher Auditorium 2
Having placed 60 sentences in a container, Beckett picked them at random to decide their order, creating pioneering and unpredictable prose. Come along to hear it performed live. [More]

Rough for Theatre I and Act Without Words II

12–20 June 2015, Meet at the Advance Box Office
Physical theatre meets promenade tradition in these two shot plays. With one drama wordless, the plays unfold in the Barbican's unique outdoor environment. [More]

All That Fall

Pan Pan Theatre
10–21 June 2015, The Pit
Sit back and nestle into your rocking chair as recorded words and sounds invite you to experience Beckett's first radio play, staged in a chamber of ambient lights. [More]

Honouring Intentions: The Director and Beckett

13 June 2015, Frobisher Auditorium 1
Directors from across the season come together for a panel discussion in which we explore and discuss the role of the director in the staging of Beckett's work. [More]

Krapp's Last Tape

Robert Wilson
19–21 June 2015, Barbican Theatre
Echoing silent movie tradition, Robert Wilson brings this haunting one-man play to the stage, laying bare Beckett's protagonist's despair and isolation. [More]

You can read more about the Barbican's upcoming Beckett events by visiting their website.
16 April 2015

Beckett and Europe

MERL, University of Reading · 28-29 October 2015

Beckett and Europe
28th - 29th October 2015 - MERL, University of Reading
Abstract Deadline: 8th June 2015
Keynote Speaker: Dr David Tucker (Chester University)

The Beckett at Reading Postgraduate group is pleased to announce a new postgraduate and Early Careers two-day conference with the theme of Beckett and Europe. We will be hosting two on-site archival workshops on manuscripts and performance during the conference. There will also be a public lecture on Happy Days by Professor James Knowlson. This will be followed by the Beckett International Foundation Seminar on the 30th of October.

We invite postgraduates and Early Career Researchers to submit abstracts under the general theme of ‘Beckett and Europe’. The aim of the conference is to engage postgraduates and ECRs in research exchange with an interdisciplinary and cross-media focus. Born in Ireland in 1906, Beckett wrote in English, French and German and directed his own theatrical work in London, Berlin and Paris. The span and influence of Beckett’s work in 20th Century Europe is essential to many questions that inform Beckett scholarship: How do we frame Beckett nationally/internationally and has this changed? What influence did Beckett have on European artists, writers and thinkers? How has Beckett’s work entered the European tradition?

All disciplines are welcome including philosophy, linguistics, theatre and performance, archival research, art, science, cultural studies, politics, history, music, theology and literature. We also invite submissions that contest and interrogate a Eurocentric focus on Beckett. Issues to consider may include, but are not limited to, the following:
  • Beckett, History and the Politics of Europe
  • Beckett and World War II
  • Beckett’s European Legacy
  • Beckett and the City
  • Beckett and European Theatre: Performance and Practice
  • Beckett and the Archive
  • Beckett, Nation and Translation
  • Beckett and Culture: E.g. Music, Art, Architecture
  • Beckett and European Philosophy
  • Beckett and Traditions: Prose, Poetry, Drama
  • Different modes of Beckett criticism in the various European traditions
Please send abstracts, in English, of 300–500 words to barpconference@gmail.com with a short bio of no more than 150 words before 8 June 2015.

Beckett at Reading Postgraduates (BARP): https://barpgroup.wordpress.com/