Lovett to perform Beckett's First Love in Australia

Actor Conor Lovett discusses interpreting Beckett for the stage
Conor Lovett to perform Samuel Beckett's First Love in Brisbane and Melbourne
This comes hot off the Australian presses - from an article dated 14 September 2010. The Australian interviews Conor Lovett about a forthcoming performance of Samuel Beckett's short prose text First Love at the Brisbane Festival. The article traces Beckett's famous reluctance to comment on the meaning or interpretation of his work, and includes remarks on Lovett's approach to characterization and performance. The production is due to run in Melbourne shortly after, following Sean Mathias' successful recent production of Waiting for Godot:
Lovett describes First Love as a very funny story about a man who is kicked out of his home when his father dies and who then befriends a prostitute who takes him home with her. "The audience empathises with him, even though his choices seem quite odd," he says.

He describes it as "a good introduction to Beckett", partly because it is a more linear narrative than some of the other prose pieces, a story full of scatological humour, told in Beckett's characteristic style.

While the prose works may not be as well known as the plays, Lovett is convinced audiences are smart enough to get them, even if they haven't encountered them before.

"They are enormously satisfying to perform in that you feel as an actor that you cover many different emotional bases and, more interestingly for me, you know that you are mouthing words that have great integrity," he says.

The much-praised production of Waiting for Godot, starring Ian McKellen, that came to Australia earlier this year emphasised the humour and pathos of the text; and even a performance by Robert Menzies of the unrelenting novella The End, for Company B Belvoir, was described as bitterly funny.

The view of Beckett as a prophet of doom, a pessimist whose bleak texts seem depressing, has been something Gare St Lazare has been repudiating for many years, Lovett says. Contrary to that view, he and his company have always found the work "beautiful, very very funny, poignant and sometimes heartbreaking, but never ever apocalyptic or pessimistic".

"I have heard people describe the work as hopeless and others still describe it as hopeful," Lovett says. "I think it has left the concept of hope entirely out of the equation. It deals with what happens to be and not with what might be or might have been." [Read more]

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