Dúnlaith Bird
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‘last state last version’
Adaptation and performance in Gare St Lazare Ireland’s How It Is
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Gare Saint Lazare Ireland’s adaptation of How It Is (Part I) flips the theatre in every sense: the audience remains on stage for the duration of the performance along with the technical crew, while the performers lay claim to the auditorium, the stage and the light box. From the opening soundscape of near-white noise to the weaving of recorded or live voices and the shadowy doublings of the cast, the premiere production eschews all the traps of a ‘direct’ adaptation, instead attempting to make mud in the mind. From this densely rich, disconcerting, at times disturbing sump of voices and visions, the occasional flash of sublimity emerges. This chapter will examine the Gare Saint Lazare Ireland productions of How It Is Part I and Part II (premiering September 2019) as groundbreaking examples of both inter- and multimedial adaptations of Beckett’s work. Detailed analysis of the production, directorial and technical choices will be used to question the specific challenges of adapting Beckett’s prose for the stage, the status of the original text and the concept of adaptability; a willingness to seek out alternative techniques, technology and music to dig into the complex layering of the text. It will also consider the theatrical uses of uncertainty, hesitancy and apparent improvisation in the stage adaptation to reinforce the notion that, as in the original text of How It Is, there is no ‘last state’, no ‘finished version’, no ‘resting place’ that can or should be achieved.

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Beckett’s afterlives

Adaptation, remediation, appropriation


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