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Being with Beckett

11 May 2011

3:04 PM

11 May 2011

3:04 PM

I’ll never cease to be amazed by the wealth of material freely available on Youtube. I chanced upon the above clip, a nine-minute excerpt from a documentary where a number of Samuel Beckett’s
friends and colleagues are interviewed.

The first, lengthy part of the clip begins with Jean Martin, who played Lucky in the original French production of Waiting for Godot. Martin, who is no longer with us, shares his
astonishment and enthusiasm for the role, while giving insight into some elements of his performance.

Production designer Jocelyn Herbert is next, discussing nights out with Beckett, friends and colleagues. A number of their favourite haunts are mentioned, accompanied by images of the locations
filmed at the time the documentary was made: the Rosebud bar, Iles Marquises, Les Closerie des Lilas, and the Falstaff. Herbert recalls being joined by Eugene Ionesco on one such night, when the
group planned to see a play together; Beckett, who did not go to the theatre very often, instead ‘went out for a walk and then came back’.

Billie Whitelaw shares her experiences working with Beckett as a director, on plays such as Not I and Happy Days in London. On Not I, she recalls meeting in the rehearsal
space each morning and launching ‘straight in without a word’. She recalls it was like ‘working with not only a writer and a director, but working with a painter, and a sculptor, and a musician,
and a conductor’. Whitelaw gives an impression of Beckett as a meticulous and conscientious figure.

One of the most notable moments of the clip comes from an interview with Jack Raby, one of the crew responsible for stage lighting on Happy Days. Raby cites, with amusement, an anecdote
where, during a quiet lunchbreak, Beckett began rehearsing Willie’s movements on the mount for his own clarification. Raby was quick with his camera, and his covert photography is included with the

A longer version of this article can be found at A Piece of

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