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Beckett: Unbound 2024

Liverpool + Paris // 30 May - 8 June 2024

Following the success of Beckett: Confined 2022, The University of Liverpool’s Institute of Irish Studies and The Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies at the University of Notre Dame's Keough School of Global Affairs, in association with Unreal Cities are pleased to present Beckett: Unbound 2024.

Tracing Beckett’s closings and undoings of space across disciplines, locations and environments, our 2022 festival explored the writer’s ‘politics of confinement’ amidst the highly-charged aftermath of the global pandemic. In Beckett: Unbound 2024, we explore Beckett’s wild fascination with communication and technology’s traversal of time and distance, across a programme of theatre, music, film, dance, photography, and discussion.

The second edition of the festival includes several world premières of commissioned new works, including renowned Irish choreographer Liz Roche’s Sentient, composer Kevin Volans’ Quad and performer Simon Roth’s Mouth.

Our theatre programme features three settings of some of Beckett’s major works – Not I, All That Fall and Krapp’s Last Tape.

Programme

(Further details below and via links)

 

Thursday - 30 May 2024

 

Keynote and welcome – venue and time tbc
Dr Hannah Simpson, Lecturer in Drama and Performance, University of Edinburgh

7:30pm 

Sentient – Everyman Theatre
*world première*
Liz Roche Company
Tickets on sale soon – check https://www.everymanplayhouse.com/whats-on

9pm 

La Dernière Bande (Krapp's Last Tape)– Stanley Theatre
Denis Lavant
Directed by Jacques Osinski
£10 - https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/863103855867

 

 

Friday - 31 May 2024

2pm 

All That Fall – Toxteth Reservoir
Actors: Orla Charlton, Anna Nygh, Frank McCusker, Vincent Higgins, Stanley Townsend, Frankie McCafferty
Musicians: Darragh Morgan (violin), Nicky Sweeney (violin), Fiona Winning (viola), Tim Gill (cello)
Directed by Adrian Dunbar
£10 - https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/863088339457

4pm

Pas Moi / Not I – Toxteth Reservoir
Clara Simpson
Produced by Once Off Productions
£10 - https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/862983556047

6pm

Beckett and the Wake – venue tbc
Illustrated talk by Irish photographer John Minihan on his encounters with Beckett.

7:30pm

Sentient – Everyman Theatre

9pm 

La Dernière Bande (Krapp's Last Tape)– Stanley Theatre
£10 - https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/863103855867

 

 Saturday – 1 June 2024
1pm 
 

La Dernière Bande (Krapp's Last Tape)– Stanley Theatre
£10 - https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/863103855867

4pm

Pas Moi / Not I – Toxteth Reservoir
£10 - https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/862983556047

6pm 

All That Fall – Toxteth Reservoir
£10 - https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/863088339457

7:30pm  

Sentient – Everyman Theatre

 

 Sunday – 2 June 2024
12 noon 

Rough for Radio II Panel Discussion – Tung Auditorium
FREE - https://thetungauditorium.com/events/beckett-unbound-2024-rough-for-radio-ii-and-panel-discussion

4pm

All That Fall – Toxteth Reservoir
£10 - https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/863088339457

6pm

Pas Moi / Not I – Toxteth Reservoir
£10 - https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/862983556047

8pm 

Beckett Unbound 2024: Evening Concert – Tung Auditorium
Morgan Hayes 2006 Lucky's Speech for violin solo
Melanie Daiken, 1994, trans. G. Knox, 2024 when the cross for viola solo
Barry Guy, 2021 SHE! for cello solo
Barry Guy, 2021 Quindecim for baroque violin and double bass
Kevin Volans, 2023 QUAD for string quintet *world première*
Simon Roth, 2024 Mouth for percussion solo *world première*
FREE - https://thetungauditorium.com/events/beckett-unbound-2024-concert-programme

Theatre

A mouth with red lips against a black backgroundNot I

Actor Clara Simpson has over 20 years of experience interpreting Samuel Beckett in Ireland and France. With Pas Moi / Not I, she takes Beckett’s notorious monologue and performs it in both French and English back-to-back, reflecting Beckett’s bilingual journey as well as her own. The experience “provokes deep questions of the journeying from mother tongue to adopted tongue, and back again” (Feargal Whelan) and "offers an electric evening of theatre" (Stanley Gontarski).

Performer: Clara Simpson
Stage Manager: Michael Cummins
Producers: Once Off Productions
Photo: Matthew Andrews

A steam train entering a tunnelAll That Fall

The sonic experiments, discoveries and evolutions of All That Fall (1956) led directly to the establishment of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Hungarian / British dramatist Martin Esslin commented that “Beckett and All That Fall thus directly contributed to one of the most important technical advances in the art of radio and the technique, and indeed technology, of radio in Britain.”

The 2022 Beckett: Confined performance of Geistertrio featured live extracts from Beethoven’s Ghost Trio (Op. 70) – with All That Fall’s inclusion of Schubert’s String Quartet No. 14 (D.810) we hear the only other direction by the playwright for the use of a specific composition, framing director Adrian Dunbar’s re-imagining of a radio play whose dark-driven conclusion is hardly credible after the preceding slapstick and pantomime of the foley.

Director: Adrian Dunbar
Actors: Orla Charlton, Anna Nygh, Frank McCusker, Vincent Higgins, Stanley Townsend, Frankie McCafferty
Musicians: Darragh Morgan (violin), Nicky Sweeney (violin), Fiona Winning (viola), Tim Gill (cello)
Sound Design: Simon Roth
Technical Director: Michael Cummins

La Dernière Bande (Krapp's Last Tape)

A man sitting at a desk with a tape recorder and cardboard boxes on it

Japanese scholar Miki Iwata writes of Krapp’s Last Tape that “it is well known that the events of the play are set one 'late evening in the future', because reel-to-reel audio tape recorder technology was still quite new in 1950s and the only way to make use of them to express a man's layers of memory was to shift the play's time axis…Beckett in this work seems quite conscious of the possibilities that this technology produces.

Exposing the sometime bleakness of the recorded life, in Krapp’s Beckett lays bare the emotion that is imprinted on the magnetic layers of the tape, a medium which for us now has been transposed to the realm of the hyper-digital. Here in its UK début, director Jacques Osinski’s and actor Denis Lavant’s setting was heralded as “breathtaking” when it opened at the Avignon Festival in 2019.

Please note that these performances will be in French.

Director: Jacques Osinski
Actor: Denis Lavant
Light: Catherine Verheyde
Set: Christophe Ouvrard
Costume: Hélène Kritikos
Dramturgy: Marie Potonet
Administration: Evelyne Jacquier
Photo: Pierre Grosbois

Rough for Radio II

An old sepia-coloured photo of Walton Prison

Sunday 2 June 2024, 12:00 noon - FREE but registration essential: https://thetungauditorium.com/events/beckett-unbound-2024-rough-for-radio-ii-and-panel-discussion.

Rough for Radio II is a Beckett radio play written in French as Pochade radiophonique and first published in 1975. Beckett translated the work into English shortly before its BBC Radio 3 broadcast on his birthday (13th April 1976), in which Martin Esslin directed Harold Pinter, Billie Whitelaw and Patrick Magee.

Our festival version will be recorded in situ by inmates of HM Prison Liverpool (formerly Walton Gaol), directed by Vincent Higgins in collaboration with Simon Ruding (TiPP). The recorded work will be presented to a live audience with subsequent panel discussion in the Tung Auditorium.

Director: Vincent Higgins
Producer: Simon Ruding (TiPP)
Actors: Orla Charlton with inmates of HMP Liverpool
Audio Recording: Nick Roth

Photography

Beckett and the Wake

Three people standing around a dead body lying in a bed

Irish photographer John Minihan photographed the great playwright Samuel Beckett many times in Paris and London, capturing moments that have become iconic images of twentieth-century culture. His friendship with Beckett began through a conversation about Minihan’s acclaimed photographic series, The Wake of Katy Tyrell, which he shot in 1977, while visiting his hometown of Athy in County Kildare.

Impossible to interview and famously camera-shy, Beckett was nevertheless a remarkable photographic subject, with his wise, eagle-like face which reflected his greatness and profundity as a writer. In this illustrated talk, John Minihan will speak about his encounters with one of the greatest writers of the 20th century.

Dance

Two dancers facing away from each other against a dark background

Sentient

Sentient, a Beckett: Unbound 2024 Festival commission from choreographer Liz Roche, is a collaboration with performer / composers Nathalie Forget and Nick Roth. A major new full-length work for six dancers, saxophone and ondes Martenot, the piece responds to an innocuous-seeming passage in Samuel Beckett’s Molloy where the author explores his wonder, and ‘unknowing’, for the bees – “I often thought of my bees...and I thought above all of their dance, for my bees danced…in a different way.” (Les Éditions de Minuit, 1951)

Fascinated by German-Austrian ethologist Karl von Frisch’s Nobel-prize winning description of the precise way in which bees communicate orientational information through movement, Beckett was one of the first writers to include this groundbreaking discovery into a work of fiction. Angela Moorjani in ‘Beckett and Animals’ (Cambridge, 2013) notes that “the decoding of the honeybee genome in 2006, the year of the Beckett centenary, continues to leave neurobiologists awed by the unexplained cognitive abilities of these highly social hymenopterans. The rapture has not subsided.”

In a space somewhere between social urgency and urgent sociality, Sentient offers a new interpretation of what it is as a human being to be only one part of our natural world in its vast communicative complexities. The work travels through different atmospheres; exploring vibration, language, and group communication, with the performers collectively in adaptation to these changing environments.

Partners

Sentient by Liz Roche, is commissioned by Unreal Cities for Beckett: Unbound, Liverpool/Paris 2024, in association with the Institute of Irish Studies at the University of Liverpool and the Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris. Produced by Liz Roche Company.

Funders

Funded by The Arts Council/ An Chomhairle Ealaíon and supported by Culture Ireland. Sentient is further supported through partnerships with The Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick and TROIS C-L - Centre de Création Chorégraphique Luxembourgeois.

Cast & team:

Performers: Sarah Cerneaux, Emily Terndrup, Mufutau Yusuf, Conor Thomas Doherty, Grace Cuny, Inez Berdychowska, Nick Roth, Nathalie Forget

Choreographer: Liz Roche
Composers: Nick Roth and Nathalie Forget
Voices: Jenny Roche and Adrian Dunbar
Set and Costume Design: Katie Davenport
Lighting Design: Sinead McKenna
Production Manager: Síofra Nic Liam
Stage Manager: Lisa Krugel
Producer: Gwen Van Spyk for Liz Roche Company
Producing Associate: Emer McMahon
Photographer and videographer: José Miguel Jiménez

Film

C’est Moi Dans la Poubelle

A black and white film still of a wall with light shining on it through a window

When Ezra Pound was released, after twelve years, from the mental hospital he'd been committed to, he returned to Italy and lapsed into a long silence of deep regret and shame. This was not a vow of silence, just a depressed wordlessness - he felt he'd ruined everything, not least his own Cantos ('a botch - stupidity and ignorance all through'). He went to see Endgame in Paris, uttering only the title of the play. Beckett subsequently came to visit him in Venice, and C’est Moi Dans la Poubelle is our film rendition of this meeting, according to Beckett's account, with treatment by James Lever and directed by Michael O’Neill (Armchair & Rocket).

Director: Michael O’Neill
Written by: James Lever
Producers: Armchair & Rocket
Actors: Lalor Roddy and Vincent Higgins
Photo: Unreal Cities

Evening Concert

A B&W montage of photos of various musicians.

Sunday 2 June 2024, 8:00pm- FREE but registration essential: https://thetungauditorium.com/events/beckett-unbound-2024-concert-programme.

The festival’s music curation responds to the theatre and dance programme via six contemporary works, featuring three world-première commissions and two UK / France premières.

Composer Kevin Volans’ Quad for string quintet begins as a transliteration of the movement sequences embedded in the geometry of Beckett’s eponymous ‘ballet for four people’. There are several modifications to the original structure to compensate for the shift from visual to audible imagery, with the second part a freer interpretation of the contrast between the two parts of its progenitor. The new work is a festival commission and will receive its world première and second performance at Beckett: Unbound.

Composer Barry Guy’s Quindecim for baroque violin and double bass is a response to Swiss architect and artist Max Bill’s “Fifteen Variations on a Single Theme” exploring the artist’s idea that “once the basic theme has been chosen - whether it be simple or complex - an infinite number of different developments can be evolved according to individual inclination and temperament”. The work incorporates four Beckett texts (Thither, 10 Mirlitonnades, The Downs, One Dead of Night) into its highly intricate ‘molten architecture’.

Barry Guy’s work for solo cello and electronics ‘SHE!’ is one of two pieces in the music programme that respond to Not I / pas moi, with the composer “struck by the musicality and rhythmic impetus of the monologue which quickly suggested an approach.” Composed for cellist Kate Ellis, the piece was commissioned by Music for Galway with funds from the Arts Council / An Comhairle Ealaíon and received its premiere in Brigid’s Garden in 2015.

Another festival world première, ‘Mouth’, composed and performed by percussionist Simon Roth, also responds to Not I / pas moi, exploring the sonic semantics of Billie Whitelaw’s famous 1973 rendition of the work (described by Beckett himself as “miraculous”) and her hearing in Mouth’s outpourings her own 'inner scream'. Whitelaw said of the piece that “I found so much of my self in Not I. Somewhere in there were my entrails under a microscope.”

Composer Melanie Daiken studied in Paris under Olivier Messiaen and became Deputy Head of Composition at the Royal Academy of Music in London in the 1980’s. Her father, the radical Irish journalist Leslie Daiken, befriended Beckett after studying French under him in Trinity College Dublin.

After an introduction from her father, Melanie and Sam became friends in Paris, and she used to bring him piano music from the Paris Conservatoire. She described her piece ‘When the Cross’, composed for violinist Peter Sheppard Skærved in 1994, as a chaconne. Skærved comments “it's really a full scale operatic drama for one player and one of the substantial single-movement works for solo violin.” For the Beckett: Unbound Festival violist Garth Knox performs the world première of his transcription of the work for solo viola.

Lucky’s Speech, by composer Morgan Hayes, was composed for violinist Darragh Morgan, for the launch of his recital CD Opera on the NMC label in June 2006. The title refers to a pivotal moment in Samuel Beckett’s play Waiting for Godot, when the hitherto silent character Lucky suddenly pours forth a torrential stream, reflected musically  by an almost breathless musical activity punctuated by pizzicato commentaries.

Maya Homburger – baroque violin
Darragh Morgan – violin
Nicky Sweeney – violin
Fiona Winning – viola
Garth Knox – viola
Kate Ellis – cello
Barry Guy – double bass
Simon Roth – percussion

Discussions

Hannah SimpsonCentral to the festival programme is a special series of talks, panel discussions and debates. The keynote talk for Beckett: Unbound will be given by Dr. Hannah Simpson, who is Lecturer in Drama and Performance at the University of Edinburgh and whose recent monographs include ‘Samuel Beckett and the Theatre of the Witness’ and ‘Samuel Beckett and Disability Performance’.

 

 

 

 

The Festival is funded by The Institute of Irish Studies, University of Liverpool, University of Notre Dame and Culture Ireland, and with thanks to University of Liverpool Alumni and Friends fund for their generous support of the Beckett Student Ambassador Scheme at the festival. We are grateful to acknowledge additional funding received from The TS Eliot Foundation.

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