With Endgame opening tomorrow night at Ros Packer Theatre, STC Artistic Director Andrew Upton talks about the grim conclusion to our happy tales and what TBS writers can learn from Beckett.
For those who have purchased tickets to Endgame, perhaps because they enjoyed Waiting for Godot, what do you think is the main contrast between the two pieces by Beckett that they may not expect?
Endgame has a grimly determined narrative purpose so even though it is charged with black humour it is not as whimsical or light or free.
The key term used, “Nothing is funnier than unhappiness”, is somewhat comforting — why do you think this is?
Beckett perhaps more than any writer begins with the simple fact that we are going to die. This grim conclusion to our happy tale (not always happy, of course) can colour and distort the glory of each moment that you live and that distortion of the glory is balanced best by a good laugh.
The Big Smoke is a site for all writers, from cabbie to QC. What do you think TBS writers can learn from the works of Samuel Beckett?
Beckett is a great writer because there is not a moment that isn’t critiqued and considered before being posited. The downside of this would be a terrible type of machinery but the creative force, the intellectual rigour and the emotional depth that he brings, is so organic and authentic that what is present in his writing is a very particular truth. Aside from that there is a mastery of form and structure that is at once musical in its scope and slapstick in its precision.
As a director, do you feel there are any aspects of the play requiring a translative process to become more palatable for Australian audiences?
No. The works are so richly refined that they do (God forbid) achieve a kind of universal resonance. And the resonances are so finely tuned internally that to tamper with them would be more destructive than constructive.
What is the main message you hope audiences will walk away with after seeing Endgame?
That a great writer has seized the very central power of theatre which is its immediacy and transience. Its live-ness. To talk so lucidly about the moment.