‘Rough for Theatre I’ by Samuel Beckett | Beckett on Film | 2001

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Written in French in the 1950s, Rough for Theatre I features a blind man (‘A’) and a physically disabled man (‘B’) who meet by chance and consider the possibility of joining forces to unite sight and mobility in the interests of survival. Each once had a woman and now has no one to help him. B is the pragmatist while A keeps asking questions. B is reticent, never seeming to have noticed these things. B becomes cranky, going as far as to strike A, but being crippled he also needs him. The play ends in uneasiness and latent violence.

‘… It seems to me sometimes the earth must have got stuck, one sunless day, in the heart of winter, in the grey of evening …’

–’A’, Rough for Theatre I

Running time: 20 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.


Director

Dublin-born Kieron J Walsh’s first film was his graduation film Goodbye Piccadilly, which was awarded three Fuji film scholarships. He then won a British Council scholarship to study film at the Royal College of Art, where he won numerous international prizes for his graduation film Bossanova Blues, including the Golden Square award for Best Graduation Film and a gold plaque at the Chicago Film Festival. Kieron has directed films for Working Title and the BBC and a half-hour drama written by Roddy Doyle for RTÉ. He also directed three episodes of the popular A Young Person’s Guide to Becoming a Rock Star. His first feature film was the highly acclaimed When Brendan Met Trudy, written by Roddy Doyle.

‘I was quite daunted at the prospect of filming one of the plays, but when I read Rough for Theatre I, I immediately saw the cinematic possibilities. It reminded me a little of Laurel and Hardy, so I shot it on location – “Street corner: day” – in black and white.’

– Kieron Walsh

Cast

David Kelly (‘A’) was trained at the renowned Abbey Theatre School, Dublin. He regularly performed in plays by Sean O’Casey, John Millington Synge, Tom Murphy, W B Yeats and Brian Friel. In 1954 he performed in the world’s première of Brendan Behan’s The Quare Fella. More recent theatre work includes the American tour of Synge’s Playboy of the Western World, which won him a nomination in Washington for the Helen Hayes Award. His film work includes Mike Newell’s Into the West and Jack Gold’s Philadelphia Here I Come; his performance in the highly acclaimed Waking Ned won him a Golden Satellite Award for Best Actor and a Best Supporting Actor nomination in the Screen Actors’ Guild Awards.

Milo O’Shea (‘B’) began his career as a boy actor in his native Dublin and later became a regular leading actor and revue artist at the Gate Theatre. His London debut was opposite Dame Sybil Thorndike in Treasure Hunt, directed by Sir John Gielgud. His highly successful Broadway career saw him perform in Dear World, A Touch of Poet and Staircase, which earned him his first nomination for a Tony Award. His second nomination was for his performance in Mass Appeal, which also earned him a Drama League Award and the Outer Critics’ Circle Award. Milo’s numerous films include UlyssesRomeo and JulietBarbarellaThe Butcher Boyand The Verdict.