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Act Without Words II/ A Piece of Monologue/ Play

Act Without Words II is a brief mime showing two players, A and B, who emerge from two large sacks. Beckett specified violent lighting and extended the notion by having the players prodded into action by a goad. A is slow, awkward and absent, whereas B is brisk, rapid, precise. The goad prods A, who gradually emerges to set about his banal routine. B embarks on a more complicated routine, checking his watch, moving briskly to relocate the sacks before retiring back to his own. What unites A and B is the equal absurdity of their lives, which comprise a vicious circle of never-ending, useless activity.
Director Enda Hughes (Eliminator, Flying Saucer Rock ‘n’ Roll) says: Beckett was so concerned with form that I think he would have employed the mechanics of film in the same inventive way that he employed lighting and the stage itself,
as presences, even characters in the drama. That’s what I wanted to try and do myself. (With: Pat Kinevane, Marcello Magni. 11 mins.)

In A Piece of Monologue, the speaker tells a fragment of a story about birth and death in which the narrative details almost match those visible to us on the
set. The gap between the narrative and the set dramatises the process of atrophy implied in the opening words, Birth was the death of him. The film is directed by Robin Lefevre, who says that Beckett burns images on your brain in the time
it takes to make a sandwich. (20 mins.)

In Play, three urns stand on the stage. From the urns, the heads of a man and two women protrude. Anthony Minghella’s film of Play tells of a love triangle, and the camera focuses on each character as they narrate a bitter history. Each head is provoked into speech by an inquisitorial camera. The heads speak not just in response to the camera’s focus, but in an attempt to escape its gaze. The words become a defence mechanism. My unfinished doctoral thesis was on Beckett, says Minghella. Play was the first theatre piece I ever directed, in a double bill with Happy Days. There was a time when I read Beckett almost on a daily basis. The sense of language and poetry in his writing has been the single biggest influence on me. (With: Alan Rickman, Juliet Stephenson, Kristin Scott-Thomas. 16 mins.)

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