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Staging Beckett: a production history of Samuel Beckett’s drama in London (1955 – 2010)

McFrederick, M. (2017) Staging Beckett: a production history of Samuel Beckett’s drama in London (1955 – 2010). PhD thesis, University of Reading

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Abstract/Summary

This study presents the first performance history of Samuel Beckett’s drama in London theatres. The study focuses on a selection of professional productions of Beckett’s dramatic canon and assesses the impact these performances had on London and British theatre cultures between 1955 and 2010. Since the British premiere of Waiting for Godot, Beckett’s oeuvre has been staged across a variety of London theatres and contexts, ranging from the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith to the Theatre Royal Stratford East. The performance histories of Beckett’s plays represent a neglected facet of Beckett studies, but through research undertaken for the Staging Beckett Database – a searchable data model for Beckett performances staged in the UK and Ireland – a broad tradition of staging Beckett in the British Isles has been discovered. Through the support of these records, performance histories, theatre historiography and performance archives, the study shows how Beckett’s drama featured in key London theatres during prominent moments in British theatre history in a series of landmark and lesser known productions and seasons. By means of a chronological structure, this account examines the factors that contributed to Beckett’s role in metropolitan theatre cultures, discussing how his theatre was created and received and the legacies or significance of his drama on the city’s theatrical landscape. Beckett’s evolving stature and the multifunctional role he played in London theatre cultures is reflected in the four chapters that investigate the history. Chapters one and two reveal the key partnerships he established in theatres such as the English Stage Company at the Royal Court and the National Theatre, and the eclectic range of performances from the international productions during the World Theatre Seasons to the multiple presentations of his drama for young theatregoers at the newly started Young Vic. Chapter three examines the development of Beckett’s practice through some of his last productions staged or rehearsed at the Royal Court, Riverside Studios and the National Theatre. The final chapter discusses performances post-Beckett, when his drama proliferated across London, from West End productions with star actors to Festivals celebrating his entire canon.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Saunders, G. and McMullan, A.
Thesis/Report Department:Department of Film, Theatre & Television
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Arts and Communication Design > Film, Theatre & Television
ID Code:78067
Date on Title Page:2016

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