Today is the centenary of the birth of Samuel Beckett, as I’m sure you’ve been bludgeoned with all day. I came to appreciate his work when I played Hamm in “Endgame”, about fifteen years (!) ago. Before then, I’d always bought into the absurdist/existential flapdoodle everybody spouted about him; doing that show opened my eyes to his great sense of humor. Absolutely pitch-black humor, yes, but pretty funny nonetheless.
Also, I was struck by the impossibility of paraphrasing his writing. Most playwrights are easily paraphrased, Shakespeare included. A lazy actor can get the gist of the author’s intention across without always delivering the lines exactly as written. With Beckett, the language is already so spare and so precise that there’s nothing else to be said, nothing else that can be said, than what he wrote. Anything other would ring false to the ear.
“Moments for nothing, now as always, time was never and time is over, reckoning closed and story ended.”
I was way too young for the role, and I was very much swimming out of my depth. Still, I think it was probably the best work I ever did onstage.
Certainly it was the best role.
(Pause. He covers his face with handkerchief, lowers his arms to armrests, remains motionless.)