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Beckett, Sade, The Avengers: Patrick Magee and character acting in the 1960s

Carville, C. (2022) Beckett, Sade, The Avengers: Patrick Magee and character acting in the 1960s. Studies in Theatre and Performance, 42 (2). pp. 182-195. ISSN 2040-0616

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/14682761.2020.1757318


Patrick Magee was Samuel Beckett’s close collaborator and friend who, through his monologues on BBC radio in the early 1960s, shaped the parameters of a generic Beckettian character, one that can still be detected in the production, reception and understanding of Beckett’s work today. Yet it has not been sufficiently understood that Magee’s performances emerge from a wide and shifting field of biographical, aesthetic, professional and economic forces, given his centrality not only to Beckett’s reception, but to many other areas of performance, from classic West End theatre to horror film, counter-cultural provocation to iconic Sixties television series. Magee’s distinctive realization of Beckett’s anonymous, isolated, seemingly ancient voices took place in the context of his sustained experiment with the nature and function of character across several media, and in this essay I think through the nature and consequences of this mobility. To do so I focus on his career from 1958 to 1964, that is to say, from the small part he played in the first airing of Beckett’s play All that Fall on the BBC Third Programme, to the Royal Shakespeare Company summer season at the Aldwych in London, which featured Magee as leading man in all four plays staged, including Beckett’s Endgame and Peter Weiss’s Marat/Sade.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Literature and Languages > English Literature
ID Code:83183


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