In English and in French.
The play runs 85 minutes without intermission
In talking with Brenda Bruce, who created the role of Winnie for the Royal Court production in 1962, Beckett said the following:
I thought that the most dreadful thing that could happen to anybody would be not to be allowed to sleep you're sinking into the ground alive and the sun is shining endlessly day and night and there is not a tree There'd be no shade, nothing, and that bell wakes you up all the time and all you've got is a little parcel of things to see you through life. And I thought who would cope with that and go down singing, only a woman.
Out of this initial idea, Beckett crafted an extremely funny, often touching, and occasionally inspiring account of survival in the face of increasing physical powerlessness. Although her situation and responses to it are highly specific, Winnie covers enough ground in her effort to keep going to suggest the general human condition facing all of us as we grow old. Like Winnie, we find ourselves losing more and more of our mobility, our memory, our companions, our control.
In our production, Winnie speaks in Irish-accented English (like Beckett), and she uses French when addressing her husband Willie. It is as if she moves through the extraordinary specificity of language and gesture demanded by Beckett to find a deeper layer of consciousness prior to language, even as she depends on words to fend off the inevitable. "Words fail, there are times when even they fail," she says, "Les mot vous lâchent, il est des moment où même eux vous lâchent." In both languages, for all of us. And yet Beckett gives us language so precise, so inextricably linked to the body and the speaker, that we can face the inevitable with a strange kind of delight, in English and in French.
Courtney Walsh studied acting at Yale, performed in Los Angeles on stage, television and film, and then became a lawyer for abused children. Since returning to acting in 2006, she has appeared in Bay Area venues from San Francisco to San Jose (including eight seasons with Stanford Repertory Theater), and in Berlin, Amsterdam, Wales, Greece, and France. She will reprise her role as Winnie in Paris in December. Courtney is a drama lecturer for Stanford Continuing Studies, a mother of four, and competitive equestrienne. courtneywalsh.net
Rush Rehm is a Professor of Theater and Performance Studies and Classics at Stanford, and the Artistic Director of Stanford Repertory Theater (SRT, a professional company), Rehm also has worked as an actor and director at various US regional theaters, and in Australia, Greece, England, and France.
Thanks to Stanford Continuing Studies, the Department of Theater and Performance Studies, and to Lynne Soffer and Jeanne Trombetta for help with dialects and accents.
TLF-Theatre Lycée Français de San Francisco (View)
1201 ortega street
San Francisco, CA 94122