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Lisa Dwan’s Acclaimed Beckett Trilogy in Ireland for the First Time

Article by From The Front Row © 3 July 2014.
Posted in Guest Blogs ().

Irish audiences will finally have a chance to experience the trilogy of Samuel Beckett plays, performed by Irish actress Lisa Dwan and directed by Beckett’s long-time collaborator Walter Asmus, which played sell-out runs at the Royal Court Theatre and West End this year.

In May 2013, Lisa Dwan’s performance of Beckett’s landmark piece Not I was staged at the Royal Court, 40 years after the theatre held its UK premiere in 1973. The entire run sold out, with extra dates added due to demand and both critics and audiences captivated by Beckett’s unique piece and Lisa’s performance of it.

In January 2014, Lisa Dwan returned to the Royal Court to reprise Not I alongside two more classics Footfalls and Rockaby, directed by Beckett’s long-time collaborator, Walter Asmus. Again, the run sold out, before transferring to the Duchess Theatre in the West End, where it played to full houses and further critical acclaim.

The trilogy now heads to Ireland, opening at Galway Arts Festival, and travelling to the Mac in Belfast. In addition, the tour will also play London’s Southbank Centre, Brooklyn Academy of Arts, New York, Cambridge Arts Theatre, Birmingham Repertory Theatre and The Lowry, Salford.

Not I is an intense monologue, set in a pitch-black space lit by a single beam of light. A disembodied female mouth floats eight feet above the stage and delivers a stream of consciousness, spoken, as Beckett directed, at the speed of thought. Lisa Dwan was tutored in the role by Billie Whitelaw, who originally performed the part at its 1973 UK premiere and was personally coached for the part by Beckett himself.

Rockaby is probably the most famous of Beckett’s last works. It explores loneliness and features a prematurely old woman dressed in an evening gown, sitting on a wooden rocking chair that appears to rock of its own accord. Rockaby was first performed inNew York in 1981 starring Billie Whitelaw and then at the National Theatre in 1982.

Footfalls features the distant voice of ‘Mother’ and May who paces back and forth like a metronome, on a bare strip of floor. Footfalls was first performed by Billie Whitelaw, for whom the piece had been written, at the Royal Court as part of the Samuel Beckett Festival in 1976, directed by Beckett himself.

Tour Dates

Galway Arts Festival 22-26 July
South Bank Centre 19-21 August; 26-30 August
The MAC, Belfast 2-6 September
Cambridge Arts Theatre 9-13 September
Birmingham Repertory Theatre, The STUDIO 16-20 September
The Lowry, Salford
23-27 September
Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York 7-13 October

Lisa Dwan
Hailing originally from Coosan, Athlone in Co Westmeath, Dwan has been performing Beckett since 2005, first performing Not I at Battersea Arts Centre directed by Natalie Abrahami before being directed by Billie Whitelaw at the SouthBank Centre in 2009. She has also worked in theatre, film and television both internationally and at home in Ireland. Film credits include: Not I, The Engagement, Walt Disney’s Oliver Twist with Richard Dreyfus and Elijah Wood and John Boorman’s Tailor of Panama and Bhopal – A Prayer for Rain. She adapted, produced and performed the critically acclaimed one woman play Beside the Sea at the Southbank Centre and on tour and starred in Goran Bregović’s new music drama, Margot, Diary Of An Unhappy Queen at the Barbican. She most recently performed in Ramin Gray’s production of Illusions by Ivan Viripaev at the Bush Theatre and a Soldiers Tale at the Hay Festival.

Walter Asmus
He was Beckett’s long-time friend and collaborator, assisting him on many of his productions at the Schiller Theatre in Berlin and for TV in Stuttgart. His production of Waiting for Godot, toured extensively internationally, including a one-night-only tour of the 32 counties of Ireland in 2008.

“When Not I opened at the Royal Court in May, it was an unforgettable and special experience for all who saw it. On announcing that Lisa Dwan would return, this time to perform a trilogy of Beckett’s work, it sold out quickly once again. It is heartening to see there is such a demand for this work.”
Vicky Featherstone, Artistic Director of the Royal Court Theatre

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