Staging Beckett Publications

Our research into the impact of productions of Beckett’s plays on theatre cultures and practices in the UK and Ireland has resulted in numerous publications over the three years of the project and since the conclusion of its funded phase in September 2015. These books, special journal issues, book chapters and journal essays reflect on questions such as how particular theatre companies, institutions or individual practitioners (whether directors, actors or designers) have staged Beckett, how such productions have interacted with changing theatrical contexts at local, national and international levels, or how the remains of those productions in archives or other traces, have left legacies that continue to impact on contemporary theatre and performance. Information about these publications are detailed below.

Staging Beckett in Great Britain

Dr David Tucker and Dr Trish McTighe edited the two volume Bloomsbury (Methuen Drama) book series – Staging Beckett in Great Britain and Staging Beckett in Ireland and Northern Ireland – that was published in June 2016. These publications include contributions from the Staging Beckett research team, distinguished scholars of Beckett’s theatre and contemporary British drama, as well as internationally renowned practitioners of Beckett’s oeuvre.

Beckett-Staging-Beckett-GB Beckett’s relationship with British theatre is complex and underexplored, yet his impact has been immense. Uniquely placing performance history at the centre of its analysis, this volume examines Samuel Beckett’s drama as it has been staged in Great Britain, bringing to light a wide range of untold histories and in turn illuminating six decades of drama in Britain. Ranging from studies of the first English tour of Waiting for Godot in 1955 to Talawa’s 2012 all-black co-production of the same play, Staging Samuel Beckett in Great Britain excavates a host of archival resources in order to historicize how Beckett’s drama has interacted with specific theatres, directors and theatre cultures in the UK. It traces production histories of plays such as Krapp’s Last Tape; presents Beckett’s working relationships with the Royal Court, Riverside and West Yorkshire Playhouse, as well as with directors such as Peter Hall; looks at the history of Beckett’s drama in Scotland and how the plays have been staged in London’s West End. Production analyses are mapped onto political, economic and cultural contexts of Great Britain so that Beckett’s drama resonates in new ways, through theatre practice, against the complex contexts of Great Britain’s regions.

For further information see: Staging Beckett in Great Britain

Read Megan Girdwood’s review in Irish Studies Review

Staging Beckett in Ireland and Northern Ireland

This is the first full-length study to focus on the staging of Samuel Beckett’s drama in Ireland and Northern Ireland. Beckett’s relationship with his native land was a complex one, but the importance of his drama as a creative force both historically and in contemporary practice in Ireland and Northern Ireland cannot be underestimated. Drawing on previously unpublished archival materials and re-examining familiar narratives, this volume traces the history of Beckett’s drama at Dublin’s Abbey and Gate Theatres as well as bringing to light unexamined and little-known productions such as those performed in the Irish language, Druid Theatre Company’s productions, and those of Dublin’s Focus Theatre. Leading scholars in Beckett studies and in Irish drama, including Anna McMullan and Anthony Roche, and renowned interpreters of Beckett’s dramatic work such as Barry McGovern, explore Beckett’s drama within the context of Irish creative theatrical practice and heritage, and analyse its legacies. As with its companion volume, Staging Beckett in Great Britain, production analyses are underpinned by a consideration of the political, economic and cultural contexts. Readers are invited to experience Beckett’s drama as resonating in new ways, through theatre practice, against the complex and connected histories of Ireland, north and south.

For further information see: Staging Beckett in Ireland and Northern Ireland

A Dream and its Legacies: The Samuel Beckett Theatre Project, Oxford c.1967-76

David Tucker’s 2014 book from Colin Smythe, A Dream and its Legacies, tells the history of the plans to build what was to be the Samuel Beckett Theatre in St Peter’s College, Oxford around forty years ago.

It describes the direct involvement of Beckett, artists such as Francis Bacon and Henry Moore, architects Norman Foster and Richard Buckminster Fuller, as well as a range of British playwrights, actors and directors. The book presents a previously untold part of Beckett’s life story which reveals much about the collaborative friendships of the time, as well as Beckett’s thinking about certain of his texts.

Special Issue Journals: Contemporary Theatre Review and Samuel Beckett Today/ Aujourd’hui

The Staging Beckett research team has also been busy editing and compiling two special issue journals, which will include articles discussing performances of Beckett’s drama at the margins and readings of Beckett in contemporary performance cultures. Both issues of Contemporary Theatre Review and Samuel Beckett Today/ Aujourd’hui can be accessed via the links below:

Contemporary Theatre Review, 28.1 (2018)

Samuel Beckett Today/Aujourd’hui, 29.2, Staging Beckett at the Margins/Autres scènes beckettiennes (2017) 

Rosemary Pountney’s Essay

In 2015 Rosemary Pountney wrote an essay entitled The Performance of Beckett for the Staging Beckett website. Her interview with David Tucker can also be found in the Interviews and Talks section of this website.

You can download and read the essay here: The performance of Beckett

Further Publications

Further book chapters and journal articles published by the Staging Beckett research team include:

McMullan, Anna, and Trish McTighe, ‘Samuel Beckett and Irish Scenography’, Irish University Review, 45.1, 2015, 141-156.

McMullan Anna, Trish McTighe, ‘Samuel Beckett, the Gate Theatre Dublin, and the Contemporary Irish Independent Theater Sector: Fragments of Performance History‘, Breac: A Digital Journal of Irish Studies, Issue 2 (2014).

McMullan Anna, Trish McTighe, David Pattie and David Tucker, ‘Staging Beckett: Constructing Histories of Performance’ Journal of Beckett Studies 23.1 (2014), special issue on Performance, 11-33.

McMullan, Anna, ‘Designing Beckett: Jocelyn Herbert’s Contribution to Samuel Beckett’s Theatrical Aesthetics’, in The Edinburgh Companion to Samuel Beckett and the Arts, ed. S.E. Gontarski, (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014), pp. 409-422.

McTighe, Patricia,'”Getting known”: Beckett, Ireland and the Creative Industries’, in That Was Us: Contemporary Irish Theatre and Performance, ed. Fintan Walsh, (London: Oberon Books, 2013), pp. 157-172.

Tucker, David, ‘”Oh Lovely Art”: Beckett and Music’, in The Edinburgh Companion to Samuel Beckett and the Arts, ed. S.E. Gontarski (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014), pp. 373-385.

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Staging Beckett team members, Matthew McFrederick and Professor Anna McMullan, alongside Walter Asmus and Dr Nick Johnson at the TCD Beckett Summer School. IMG_3277
Walter Asmus in conversation with Nick Johnson for the second Staging Beckett public talk at the Beckett Summer School, August 2014.
James Knowlson with Richard Wilson and the BBC Artsnight team at the University of Reading, July 2015.
Richard Wilson and James Knowlson during the filming of the BBC's upcoming Artsnight episode dedicated to Samuel Beckett, July 2015.
Lisa Dwan and Walter Asmus at the Royal Court, December 2013.
Lisa Dwan and Anna McMullan interview University of Reading, March 2018.
Samuel Beckett directing the San Quentin Drama Workshop actors Bud Thorpe and Rick Cluchey. (Photo by Chris Harris, David Gothard Collection.)
Billie Whitelaw's dress for Footfalls
Godot, Gare St Lazare, 2014.
Conor Lovett in Godot, Gare St Lazare, 2014.
Fizzles, 'Beckett in the City'. Photo courtesy of Company SJ., 2013.
Beckett observing rehearsals at the Riverside Studios. (Photo by Chris Harris, David Gothard Collection.)
Waiting for Godot at 60: An Exhibition, 2015.
Exhibition photo, 2014.
Exhibition photo, 2014.
Exhibition photo, 2014.
Staging Beckett conference at the University of Reading, 5 April 2014
Staging Beckett conference at the University of Reading, 5 April 2014
Staging Beckett conference at the University of Reading, 5 April 2014
Staging Beckett conference at the University of Reading, 5 April 2014
Staging Beckett conference at the University of Reading, 5 April 2014
Staging Beckett conference at the University of Reading, 5 April 2014
Staging Beckett conference at the University of Reading, 5 April 2014
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Staging Beckett team members, Matthew McFrederick and Professor Anna McMullan, alongside Walter Asmus and Dr Nick Johnson at the TCD Beckett Summer School. IMG_3277
Walter Asmus in conversation with Nick Johnson for the second Staging Beckett public talk at the Beckett Summer School, August 2014.
James Knowlson with Richard Wilson and the BBC Artsnight team at the University of Reading, July 2015.
Richard Wilson and James Knowlson during the filming of the BBC's upcoming Artsnight episode dedicated to Samuel Beckett, July 2015.
Lisa Dwan and Walter Asmus at the Royal Court, December 2013.
Lisa Dwan and Anna McMullan interview University of Reading, March 2018.
Samuel Beckett directing the San Quentin Drama Workshop actors Bud Thorpe and Rick Cluchey. (Photo by Chris Harris, David Gothard Collection.)
Billie Whitelaw's dress for Footfalls
Godot, Gare St Lazare, 2014.
Conor Lovett in Godot, Gare St Lazare, 2014.
Fizzles, 'Beckett in the City'. Photo courtesy of Company SJ., 2013.
Beckett observing rehearsals at the Riverside Studios. (Photo by Chris Harris, David Gothard Collection.)
Waiting for Godot at 60: An Exhibition, 2015.
Exhibition photo, 2014.
Exhibition photo, 2014.
Exhibition photo, 2014.
Staging Beckett conference at the University of Reading, 5 April 2014
Staging Beckett conference at the University of Reading, 5 April 2014
Staging Beckett conference at the University of Reading, 5 April 2014
Staging Beckett conference at the University of Reading, 5 April 2014
Staging Beckett conference at the University of Reading, 5 April 2014
Staging Beckett conference at the University of Reading, 5 April 2014
Staging Beckett conference at the University of Reading, 5 April 2014
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