‘Act Without Words I’ by Samuel Beckett | Beckett on Film | 2001


Written in French in 1956, Act Without Words I is a mime, as the title suggests. A man sits in a desert and struggles to reach a flask of water and other objects, which remain stubbornly out of reach. Yet despite his continual disappointment, he does not give up. There is no escape from the playing area – he is ‘immediately flung back’ when he attempts to enter the wings.

Running time: 16 minutes

The Beckett on Film project includes all 19 plays of Samuel Beckett, considered the most significant Irish playwright of the 20th century. Many of these outstanding filmed productions have received critical acclaim at prestigious international film festivals around the world including New York, Toronto and Venice.


Karel Reisz was born in Czechoslovakia in 1926 and educated in Britain. He was the first programme director of the National Film Theatre in the early 1950s. He has directed many films including: Night Must Fall (1963) with Albert Finney;Isadora (1967) with Vanessa Redgrave, Jason Robards and James Fox; The Gambler (1973-4) with James Caan; The French Lieutenant’s Woman (1980) with Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons; Sweet Dreams (1985-6) with Jessica Lang and Ed Harris; and Everybody Wins (1990) with Nick Nolte and Debra Winger. He has also directed many productions on stages across the US, Great Britain and Ireland.

‘As always with Beckett, in the agony there is pity, understanding and humanity. By using repetition, Beckett was trying to make sense of his own experience of the world. Right or wrong doesn’t come into it.’

– Karel Reisz


Sean Foley is co-founder and artistic director of the comedy double act Right Size. He has devised and performed in all their productions, touring nationally and internationally. He won an Olivier Award for Do you come here often? Other productions for Right Size include the Lyric’s Stop Calling Me Vernon. For radio he has performed on Radio 4’s productions of The Remains of Foley and McColl and The Goldfish Bowl. His film credits include Jimmy Spud, directed by Udyan Prasad.