In Rough for Theatre II, written in French in the 1950s, two men, ‘A’ and ‘B’, try to assess the life of ‘C’, who is standing motionless, with his back to the audience, ready to jump out of the window. A and B review his life with mass documentation as though he were not present. The documents are mainly quotations from C’s acquaintances. A and B consider the flotsam and jetsam of C’s life including his confessed ‘morbid sensitivity to the opinions of others’. Distracted by the electric light and the love-birds they find in a cage, they do not appear to be giving their task due concentration. They finally decide to let him jump, only to discover he is already dead.
‘Ah if I were only twenty years younger I’d put an end to my sufferings!’
–’C’, Rough for Theatre II
Running time: 28 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.
Award-winning director Katie Mitchell has worked with many of the UK’s most renowned theatre companies. She directed the Royal Shakespeare Company productions of Uncle Vanya; Stars in the Morning Sky; Henry IV, and Phoenician Women, which earned her the 1996 Evening Standard Award for Best Director. For the Royal National Theatre she directed Rutherford and Son and The Machine Wreckers. She also directed Live like Pigs and The Country at the Royal Court Theatre. In 1996 she directed Endgame at the Donmar Warehouse, for which she received the Time Out Best Director Award.
‘Beckett has that rare ability to capture our fleeting perceptions of the ridiculous and the despairing in a very taut form,’ says Mitchell. ‘We need a mirror to reflect our darker selves back to us and he is one of the few people who can do that. Film is an extraordinary medium which potentially allows you an increased palette with which to communicate this.’
Jim Norton (‘A’) has worked extensively in television, theatre and film in Europe, the US and Australia. His many theatre credits include the highly acclaimed Royal Court’s production of The Weir, by Conor McPherson (which won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Play) as well as Royal National Theatre productions ofHamlet, St Joan, and Playboy of the Western World. He has also performed at all the major theatres in Ireland. His film credits include Wild Horses, Hidden Agendaand Into the West. His numerous television performances include Rumpole of the Bailey, Father Ted, LA Law and Frasier.
Award-winning actor Timothy Spall (‘B’) has a vast credits list in theatre, television and film. The films in which he has appeared include: Love’s Labour’s Lost and Hamlet, both directed by Kenneth Brannagh; Mike Leigh’s Topsy-Turvy,Life is Sweet and Secret and Lies; Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Sheltering Sky; and Clint Eastwood’s White Hunter Black Heart. For television he has performed in Shooting the Past, for which he earned a BAFTA nomination for Best Actor, and Our Mutual Friend, which won him a Broadcasting Press Guild award for Best Actor.
Hugh B O’Brien (‘C’) has worked in theatre both as an actor and as a director of a local theatre. He has also worked in film, television and radio. His credits include: Ordinary Decent Criminals; The Run of the Country; Korca and the Channel 4 television series Father Ted. His stage credits include Molly Sweeney, The Salvage Shop, and Beckett’s Play and Endgame, among many others.