Staging Beckett: Constructing Performance Histories, University of Reading, 4-5 April 2014
Staging Beckett is a three year research collaboration between the universities of Chester, Reading, and the Victoria & Albert Museum, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. The project started in September 2012, and is exploring the impact of productions of Beckett's plays on British and Irish theatre practice and cultures while also looking at how Beckett has been staged internationally. It is compiling a database of professional productions of Beckett's plays in the UK and Ireland.
The project's first conference (4-5 April 2014) will focus on the history, documentation and analysis of Beckett's theatre in performance: while Beckett's directing practice has been much discussed, and critical attention has been paid to selected premiere productions (the French, British, Irish or US premieres of Godot, for example), or 'deviant' productions such as the 1984 American Repertory Theatre production of Endgame, there is a great deal of work to be done in researching the diversity of productions of Beckett's theatre in the UK, Ireland and internationally. Questions we are asking include:
How did approaches to staging Beckett's theatre change from the 1950s to the twenty-first century?
Have there been distinct approaches to staging Beckett at particular moments and in particular theatre cultures?
How have productions of Beckett's plays commented on or reflected wider political / economic contexts?
What kinds of dialogues can we trace between productions of Beckett's plays and local, national or international theatre histories?
Can we trace cross-influences in approaches to staging Beckett across productions?
What can particular case studies of individual or comparative productions contribute to constructing performance histories of Beckett's theatre?
How can future performance practice of Beckett's theatre be informed or inspired by previous productions?
We are also interested in methodological issues around Beckett, performance and the archive, and around Beckett, performance and the digital.
We are keen to hear from academics and practitioners (whether UK, Irish or international) interested in the legacies of particular performances, the documentation and analysis of Beckett in performance, and in the dialogues between productions of Beckett's theatre and wider theatre practices and cultural / political contexts. Issues to consider might be, but are not limited to, the following:
How particular directors / performers have approached staging Beckett
How particular economic, funding, and / or political contexts have influenced productions of Beckett's plays
Beckett and stage design / scenography
Technical innovation in productions of Beckett
'Deviant' productions (ie that have flouted Beckett's stage directions)
Productions that were planned and didn't happen (refused permission, for example)
Beckett and particular local, national or international theatre cultures
The 'festivalisation' of Beckett
International touring productions to the UK and Ireland
UK and Irish productions that have toured (such as Dublin Gate Beckett Festival)
Digital archives of Beckett in performance / Beckett performance on the web
Please send proposals of c. 150 words to Anna McMullan (firstname.lastname@example.org) by Friday 13th December 2013.
Future Staging Beckett conferences are: Staging Beckett in the Regions (University of Chester, September 2014), and Beckett and Theatre and Performance Cultures (University of Reading, April 2015).
Staging Beckett team: Matthew McFrederick (Reading) Anna McMullan (Reading), Trish McTighe (Reading) David Pattie (Chester), Graham Saunders (Reading) David Tucker (Chester).