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Monday August 15th

Carolina Performing Arts sponsors Samuel Beckett plays

Rosaleen Linehan & Des Keogh in the Gate Theatre's production of Beckett's 'Endgame' directed by Alan Stanford. Photo: Anthony Woods
Buy Photos Rosaleen Linehan & Des Keogh in the Gate Theatre's production of Beckett's 'Endgame' directed by Alan Stanford. Photo: Anthony Woods

Irish accents and wordplay will begin a four-day run tonight.
Carolina Performing Arts is sponsoring the performance of two of Irish absurdist playwright Samuel Beckett’s pieces, “Watt” and “Endgame.”

Producing a play by Beckett is a different process and is a challenge for the audience to view, said Ellen James, marketing manager for the executive office for the arts.

Attend the plays

Time: “Watt” is tonight at 7:30 p.m. and Friday at 8 p.m.
“Endgame” is Thursday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at 8 p.m.
Location: Memorial Hall

The plays will be performed by the Gate Theatre of Dublin — which launched the careers of such actors as Orson Welles, of “Citizen Kane” fame, and Michael Gambon, most recently seen as Dumbledore in the “Harry Potter” series — in Historic Playmakers Theatre.

“A Gate production is very much about what’s being said and what isn’t being said,” James said.

The Gate Theatre is known all over the world as the premier Beckett presenters, James said.

“If you want to do Beckett, you are going to want the Gate Theater to do it,” she said.

“Watt” is an adaptation of an autobiographic novel written in 1943 and published in 1953.

“It’s one man, Barry McGovern, just on stage,” James said.

She said the event entered the schedule after Emil Kang, executive director for the arts, saw a Gate Theatre production of “Watt” in New York City.

“The idea was to show how skillfully this performance was done,” she said.

James said it was a priority to make Gate Theatre’s schedule fit with that of Carolina Performing Arts while the company toured the United States.

The play will be performed in rotating repertory until Saturday.

“Watt” is being performed tonight and Friday and “Endgame” will be performed Thursday and Saturday.

The Saturday performance of is already sold out.

Ray Dooley, professor of dramatic art, said Beckett was a seminal figure in 20th century theater.

“He examines the human condition in its essence without the cover of civilization,” he said.

Beckett was Irish but lived most of his life in France and mostly wrote in French. “Watt” and “Endgame” are inspired by his experiences in France during World War II, Dooley said.

Lois More Overbeck, managing editor of a two-volume collection of the playwright’s letters called “The Letters of Samuel Beckett,” said the playwright began writing “Watt” early in World War II.

Overbeck said she and her colleague Martha Dow Fehsenfeld got Beckett’s permission to edit Beckett’s letters in 1985.

The collection is composed of more than 15,000 letters written between 1941 and 1956.

Fehsenfeld will lead a pre-performance discussion tonight before Watt, moderated by Karen O’Brien, the David G. Frey Fellow
Assistant Professor of Dramatic Art at UNC.

Both “Watt” and “Endgame” are characterized by Beckett’s love of language, Dooley said.

“His plays are funny, full of what we call black humor,” he said.
“Beckett’s plays illuminate in a distilled way the existential predicament that we find ourselves in when feeling alone.”

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