Written in English and considered Beckett’s most cheerful piece, Happy Days features a woman buried up to her waist in a mound of sand. Winnie’s husband, Willie, appears only occasionally from his tunnel behind the mound. Winnie’s opening words, ‘Another heavenly day’, set the tone for a long monologue which lasts until she can no longer busy herself with the contents of her enormous handbag. She follows the routine of the day – praying, brushing her teeth, reminiscing about the past and endlessly trying to recall ‘unforgettable lines’ that she has once read. By the end of the second act she is buried up to her neck, but she carries on chattering cheerfully.
‘Ah well, what matter, that’s what I always say, it will have been a happy day after all, another happy day.’
–Winnie, Happy Days
Running time: 1 hour 19 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.
After working in TV in Chicago and New York, Patricia Rozema returned to her native Canada to work as an associate producer at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s nightly news program, The Journal. She began her film career in 1985 with a short entitled Passion: A Letter in 16mm, which won her second prize at the Chicago International Film Festival. Her debut feature film, I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing, which she wrote, co-produced, directed and edited, was selected for the Director’s Fortnight in Cannes and won the coveted Prix de la Jeunesse. She went on to write and direct the award-winning White Room and When Night is Falling. More recently she has adapted a short film, The Hunger, produced by Tony and Ridley Scott, written and directed the Emmy-Award-winning Six Gestures, and adapted Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park.
‘I wanted to make Happy Days because, well, it’s so happy. The sizzling boy/girl interplay between that cheerful socialite and her strong silent type, their crazy antics – not to mention that startling flip-flop ending – it all adds up to a must-see movie. And as theatre and now movie personality Samuel Beckett confided at a LA hot spot recently “It gave people the chance to really like me.”‘
Rosaleen Linehan (Winnie) has performed many classic roles in theatres all over the world. She has performed in plays by Shaw, Wilde, O’Casey and Goldsmith. Her role in Brian Friel’s Dancing at Lughnasa took her to Broadway, where she was nominated for a Tony Award. In 1997, Happy Days at the Lincoln Theatre was listed by Time magazine as one of the 10 best productions of the year in the US theatre. Films in which she has appeared include Stephen Frears’ The Hi-Lo Country and Gerry Stembridge’s About Adam. She has recently been awarded an honorary doctorate of law from the National University of Ireland for services to Irish theatre.
Richard Johnson (Willie) trained as an actor at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, making his professional debut in Sir John Gielgud’s theatre company at the age of 16. He later became a founder member and associate artist of the Royal Shakespeare Company. He was also a National Theatre of Great Britain player for several years. He was under contract to MGM from 1959 to 1965 and was a member of the Council of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts from 1976 to 1978. His theatre roles include Antony in Antony and Cleopatra, Pericles in Pericles, Orlando in As You Like It, and he appeared in Broadway in The Complaisant Lover by Graham Greene. His best-remembered films include The Haunting, Khartoum, Operation Crossbow and Hennessy (for which he wrote the original story). His most recent feature films are Milk and Tom Raider.