In this uniquely personal account of Samuel Beckett's theatre, Katharine Worth draws on a wealth of remarkable material - her own work producing and directing productions of Beckett's plays, often with leading actors such as Patrick Magee, but also with students; the experience of watching other productions; her successful adaptation of Beckett's novella, Company, for the stage; and conversations and correspondence with Beckett himself. The book focuses on
the power that Beckett's theatre has to fascinate us with the ordinary small experiences of life as well as its great mysteries. The strange life-journeys taken on his stage are seen to be the universal journey; the endless story-telling about it a process we all engage in. The critical discussion highlights
the unique fusion on Beckett's stage of cosmic scenery and humorous individualism. It takes in at one end influential forerunners such as Maeterlinck, Yeats, and Dickens and at the other the lively contemporary performances, sometimes controversial, that testify to the enduring human appeal and magnetism of Beckett's plays and stage fiction.
`The book's tone and content are pitched perfectly, offering plenty for seasoned Beckett scholars, yet also being accessible for newcomers to Beckett. Indeed, Worth's elegant prose style and dry wit make this book such a pleasure to read that one frequently forgets that it is intended primarily as a critical work ... Worth clearly understands Beckett's drama and her tastefully selected anecdotes from her many years of friendship with Beckett also reveal
that she understood much about Beckett the man ... This book certainly provides excellent company for anyone interested in Beckett's drama.'
Julian A.Garforth, MLR, 96.2, 2001
`the book is a refreshing corrective to us all as [Katharine Worth] continues to remind us that the function of art is to move humans to emotional truths ... Worth consistently brings fresh insights ... Such a book, almost a theatrical memoir itself, is the distillation of a lifetime ....'
Text and Presentation: Journal of the Comparative Drama Conference
`Worth ... brings to this study not only her considerable edudition as scholar and critic but what is now virtually a career of studying Beckett's plays and their performances. The book is rich and rewarding in its frequent reference to many productions and to the insights of the author's extended conversations with Beckett about intepretation and performance ... A lively and readable book.'
J. Lee, Choice, Jul/Aug. 00.
`Even if we persist in seeing in Beckett's plays an imagination of human desolation at its most unrelieved, Worth's book may force us to think again about what it is we enjoy, what we gain from that experience.'
Nicholas Grene, Irish University Review
`Impressive ... if there can be such a thing as a page-turner in dramatic criticism devoted to the work of a single author, Samuel Beckett's Theatre: Life Journeys surely comes close to the mark ... it would be hard to meet her match for finding the small and significant detail that opens up a play to wide dramatic resonance ... This is Beckett criticism at its best, and it is Beckett criticism that will last.'
Enoch Brater, The Beckett Circle/Le Cercle de Beckett
Note to the Reader
Our Life Journeys in Beckett's Theatre: An Introduction
Heaven, Hell, and the Space Between
Lifelines: Humour and Homely Sayings
Taking the Life Journey and Telling It
Be Again, Memory!
Shared Words: The Camaraderie of Quotation