A Play in One Act ; Followed by Act Without Words, A Mime for One Player

Book - 1958
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Publisher: New York : Grove Press, 1958.
Branch Call Number: 842 B396a
Characteristics: 91 p.


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Jun 04, 2019

"Every word is like an unnecessary stain on meaninglessness."-S.B.

Apr 11, 2019

After rewatching the plays from a great video project called "Beckett on Film", I dug out my old copy of the play and read it right through. I remember when I taught "Waiting for Godot", I was surprised that the class of college students had never heard of it. I had them read it cold, and they were very puzzled. "Are these guys like dysfunctional or maladjusted?" When they saw a video of the play, they gained a better idea at what Beckett is about. Beckett is the poet of despair who can make nihilism even lyrical in his minimal language, and at the same time very funny, especially if you like gallows humor. For instance, in his mostly empty large room, Hamm keeps his mother and father in separate garbage cans at the back of the stage. Occasionally he has Clov lift the lid and says things to the father, Nagg, like, "Accursed progenitor!" When Clov, who seems to be Hamm's son is on stage, Hamm orders Clove about the stage and directs him to push his wheelchair around the stage. Their dialogue typifies Beckett:
Hamm (violently): Use your head, can’t you! What has happened?
Clov: What for Christ’s sake does it matter?
They are antagonistic toward each other:
Clov: Do you believe in the hereafter?
Hamm: Mine was always that.
(Exit Clov.)
Got him that time!

The mother and father are the only characters not antagonistic to each other. They struggle to touch while stuck in their cans.
These plays were labelled the Theatre of the Absurd in their time, yet they offer aspects of the world that now more than ever do not seem to be going away.
The other play in this book is silent, entirely visual; it is short and puzzling.

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