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Filming Beckett's Television Plays : A Director's Experience (Hardcover)

Author: Homan, Sidney

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This work complements Sidney Homan's earlier prize-winning study, Beckett's Theatres: Interpretations for Performance, which combined metadramatic and performance criticism emerging from a tour of Florida's ten state prisons with a production of Waiting for Godot. The present volume grew out of the author's own sense that his work in the theater was distorting his understanding of Beckett's plays for television, that here the aesthetics of the medium were inseparable from the options for interpretation each play offered. If in the theater the rehearsal process is a way of "discovering" the play, of suggesting alternative readings, would the same hold true if the critic encountered works like Eh Joe, Ghost Trio, or Quad by going through the actual process of filming and then editing them?
The resulting book charts the director's voyage into this important medium in Beckett's canon, from the moment he developed his "director's concept" for each work, informed as it was by scholarly and critical studies of the playwright, to the process of understanding Beckett's intentions as manifest not only in the scripts but also in his very specific directions for the camera and the actor's movements. The process then became public as rehearsals were held, followed by preproduction meetings with the technical staff, and the actual filming, followed in turn by postproduction work and then the responses of audiences.
Encompassing performance criticism as it emerges from the gamut of activities involved in a production, from conception to filming to audience response, this study underscores the human factor, the intrusion of real-life into Beckett's stark, aesthetically tight dramatic worlds. In Quad, for example, the distinct personalities of the four actors, or "dancers" as the script calls them, somehow managed to resist the precise, dehumanized pacings specified by the playwright. The actor's physical strain in showing no outward emotion, let alone movement, as the off-camera voice berates him, was manifest involuntarily in his face as the camera in Eh Joe makes its nine four-inch moves toward a final close-up. Feeling too confined by Beckett's direction for the camera, the director tried variations on three of the works, substituting, for example, cuts for the slower dissolves in . . . but the clouds . . ., only to realize just why Beckett is always "right" no matter how much he may seem to limit the director or actor.
Even as it recounts the circumstances leading up to the production, the preface of Filming Beckett's Television Plays puts this work within the context of contemporary performance-theory criticism. The copious notes provide a detailed review of the existing scholarship and critical commentary on Beckett's work for television.


Publisher Bucknell Univ Pr
Mfg Part# 9780838752340
SKU 202233306
Format Hardcover
ISBN10 0838752349
Release Date 10/1/1992
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