Essays on Irish Theatre, Scholarship and Practice
Foreword by Thomas Kilroy xix
Foreword There is no place more desolate than an empty stage. The odd stage lamp abandoned in one corner. Perhaps, an old table and rickety chair to one side, left over from some earlier encounter, maybe an audition. And, every- where, dust. Like all deserted spaces, the empty stage cries out for human habitation, human action, human voices. This odd potency, this sense of imminence, of something about to happen, is one of the essential ingredi- ents of the theatrical imagination. Playwrights dif fer from other writers in several important respects. One such dif ference is in this spatial dimension in the process of making plays. Playwrights think of writing in terms of space. Thinking of space, of where the thing is going to happen, may come before a word is written. This suggests that space itself may be one of the spurs which gets going the imagination of a playwright. The nature of the space, its dimensions. Its physicality, its decoration or absence of it, is like an invitation to the actor to appear, to perform. In the Beckett manuscripts in the Trinity College Library there are drafts, notes towards the writing of stage works that are written in the form of geometrical diagrams, A to B to C to D, like theorems waiting to be solved. This mathematical exactitude is an extreme version of what I am talking about. But, when you think about it, such precision, such attention to space, is a crucial feature of all Beckett’s...
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