Over the years, a hard carapace of performance traditions has formed around the theatre texts of Samuel Beckett. As a result, it can be very difficult to break open what those pieces originally held, how they breathed on stage and lived for their audiences. Beckett’s own notebooks and correspondence – originally part of a dialogue with actors and directors, with specific times and real spaces – were separated out, and elevated into some kind of holy writ, the authorised way of doing things. It is worth remembering that their publication was, in some cases, diametrically opposed to Beckett’s own wishes – perhaps because he anticipated such a process.
If it is anything, theatre is the live encounter between maker and text, between performance and audience. With Beckett we could not be unaware of the weight of performance history the work carries, but we tried as best we could to put that aside, to approach the text in innocence, as if it had never been done before. What we quickly realised was that many of the elements standard in performances of Not I were not to be found in Beckett’s text at all. His stage directions, for instance, say that the protagonist’s mouth should be “faintly lit from close-up and below, rest of face in shadow”; there are no directions about pace.
One problem we did have: this piece is incredibly short and intense. We could not expect an audience to park their cars, their phones, their lives, walk in from the street and immerse themselves instantly in this strange world. We needed to find a decompression chamber that would allow them to hear and receive the piece. And so we came up with the notion of a sonic journey. We felt that if the actor’s performance is to be focused entirely on the mouth, perhaps we could ask you to focus on your ears, to become the auditors, an audience. Hence the preparatory adventure. We hoped you were surprised, entertained, beguiled, baffled and, to some extent, disorientated by it.
— Ger FitzGibbon, Director
Contributors & Collaborators
Regina Crowley (Actor)
Ger Fitzgibon (Director/Designer)
Mick O’Shea (Sound Design & Performance)
Louise Brown (Stage Management)
John Halpin (Poster Design)
The experience of witnessing Not I in so vivid a live performance is akin to having the breath sucked from one’s body.
—Marc O’Sullivan, Irish Examiner, May 2014
This production would not have been possible without the help of various individuals and organisations. We wish to thank in particular the Crawford Art Gallery and specifically curator Dawn Williams and the CAG Security Staff, and Cork School of Music for the use of various props and furniture. We are also very grateful to Kirsty Clydesdale of Curtis Brown as agents of Edward Beckett and the Beckett Estate. Most especially we are grateful to you, the friends and supporters of Gaitkrash Theatre Company.