Ethica: Four shorts by Samuel Beckett

Sugarglass Theatre perform four Beckett works · 28 May - 2 June 2012

Four shorts by Samuel Beckett
Play/Come and Go/Catastrophe/What Where
Samuel Beckett Theatre
28 May – 2 June 2012

Press Release: Returning from a tour to Bulgaria, Sugarglass Theatre with partners in Trinity College present four Beckett plays in one evening of theatre

Four of Beckett’s iconic plays, rarely performed in Ireland, will get an exciting new production in the Samuel Beckett Theatre in Trinity College Dublin, for a limited engagement. The four shorts are co-directed by Nicholas Johnson, Assistant Professor of Drama in Trinity College and theatre-maker, and Marc Atkinson, a graduating student of Johnson’s and extremely exciting young talent. The production was originally performed in March 2012 in the National Academy of Theatre and Film in Sofia at the invitation of the Irish embassy in Bulgaria. Ethica: four shorts by Samuel Beckett, elicits the theatricality and vibrancy inherent in the texts and is a perfect introduction to his work for theatre, as well as having something new to show the most avid of Beckett enthusiasts.

These four plays explore timeless questions of fidelity, justice and resistance in both the domestic and political spheres. Play (1964) strikes us with an image of three heads, the bodies in urns, seemingly destined to repeat the story of their love triangle into infinite time. Come and Go (1965) presents another ghostly triad, three women seated on a bench speaking of an enigmatic past they shared. Catastrophe (1979), dedicated to Václav Havel, the anti-communist playwright and later President of the Czech Republic, written at a time when Havel was imprisoned by the Czechoslovakian regime, is perhaps Beckett’s most overtly political work. What Where (1983), Beckett’s final work for theatre, creates a system of repetition that suggests a pattern of state violence. Grouped here, under the collective title Ethica, one can see an exploration of ethics in Beckett’s work, beginning with the domestic and emerging into the political sphere.

“These plays” says Johnson, “when placed beside each other in this order, with the transitions between them considered carefully, allow each piece to become like a movement in a symphony rather than a track in a compilation album. We begin with Play, with a very small and particular constraint on the characters, the urns in which they are trapped, and move to the increasingly large, pervasive constraints of institutionalised power in What Where”. For Atkinson, “Ethica is an opportunity for Irish audiences to reflect on systemic problems in a theatrical way. Theatre needs to embrace its theatricality. I believe you can say more and challenge people more deeply with poetic imagery and theatricality than you can by standing on stage, explicitly and directly addressing the audience.” About working with his former teacher, Atkinson says of Johnson that “It’s a brilliant opportunity. And the collaboration works very well. What Nick brings is a depth and breadth of ! expertise in Beckett scholarship and performance, while I bring a fresh set of eyes, a new way of looking at the work which he may not have seen before or in a long time.”

Nicholas Johnson, originally from El Paso, Texas, began a lifelong passion for Beckett’s work when he played “A Boy” in Waiting for Godot at the age of seven. Johnson received a Mitchell Scholarship in 2004 to study for a Masters in Trinity College Dublin, which he expanded into his PhD. The Mitchell Scholarship, named after Senator George Mitchell who brokered the Good Friday Agreement, is a highly competitive prize and seeks out future leaders in the hopes of keeping the relationship between Ireland and the United States modern and relevant. It allowed Johnson to come to Trinity and study where Beckett once did and become immersed in community that is rich with living memory of his subject. He is now a full time lecturer at TCD, where he co-founded the Samuel Beckett Summer School in 2011.

Marc Atkinson moved from Newcastle to Limerick at the age of 12 and became an active member of Limerick Youth Theatre, where he started to hone his craft. He went to Trinity to study Drama hoping to be an actor but found that the course exposed him to the many other possibilities in the art form, and he developed specialities in lighting and directing. Atkinson excelled in his subject, earned a rare Scholarship of the College, became Chair of DU Players and is fast emerging as a director to watch, with productions in both the 10 Days in Dublin and Dublin Fringe Festivals in the summer after completing his final year exams.

Ethica was first produced at the invitation of the Irish Embassy in Sofia as a cultural outreach project funded by the Trinity Assciation and trust. Following a successful tour to the National Academy of Theatre and Film in Sofia in March it will receive a full production for Dublin audiences in the heart of excellence in Beckett scholarship and production. The various parts in the four plays are played by an ensemble of actors: Peter Corboy, Siobhan Cullen, Ellen Flynn, Matthew Malone, Maeve O’Mahony and Ellen Patterson. Ethica: four shorts by Samuel Beckett is co-produced by Sugarglass Theatre, the TCD School of Drama, Film and Music, and the Provost’s Fund for Visual and Performing Arts.

Tickets are priced at €15, €12 concession and €9 for TCD Students and the per-ticket price in groups of 4 or more. They can be booked on www.sugarglasstheatre.com/tickets or by phone on +353 1 896 2461

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