Drawing: Lisa Dwan in Not I, Footfalls and Rockaby

lisa dwan

Irish actress Lisa Dwan has just completed a two week solo season of three short works by fellow Celt Samuel Beckett, following critically acclaimed sold-out performances at the Royal Court Theatre and the West End. Not I, Footfalls and Rockaby completed its sold out run today (30 August 2014) at the Southbank Centre’s Purcell Room in Central London as part of the Festival of Love.

Lisa plays the part of Mouth in Not I, a nine minute monologue where the audience sees only a woman’s disembodied mouth suspended eight feet above a black stage. To achieve this Lisa wears black makeup, a black blindfold, covers her hair with black tights, then straps her head to a blackboard with a hole in it – so that her mouth stays in the single beam of light. She first performed the piece in 2005.

It’s certainly one of the most challenging stage roles with total sensory deprivation. “I can’t see or hear anything. It’s like driving down the motorway the wrong way with no handbrake  – it’s terrifying… but it’s almost the most exhilarating role I’ve ever known,” Lisa said in an interview. The crucial thing is it’s done at speed – after a lifetime of virtual speechlessness, the character has ‘verbal diarrhoea’.

Completing the Becket trilogy is Footfalls, the moving story of May who moves back and forth like a metronome on a bare landing outside her dying mother’s room, and his most famous piece Rockaby with a woman recounting moments form her past sitting in her rocking chair. Metro called it “A mesmerising, heart-wrenching, terrifying triple.” The Standard simply said, “sensationally good” and The Telegraph said, “A stunning performance.”


Drawing: Mark Rylance, Miriam Margolyes, Simon McBurney and Tom Hickey in Endgame

End Game ‘Graph collecting in London in the dead of winter. What better than to stalk a Samuel Beckett play to match the cold, dark and bleak elements. The fourth revival in a decade of Beckett’s Endgame at the Duchess Theatre, considered along with Waiting for Godot to be among his most important works. One critic said it was like “watching a world edge into darkness.” Beeckett liked his plays to be as colourlesss as posssible. This one seems to be set in a grey area somehere near the end of the literary universe. The title is taken from the last part of a chess game, when there are very few pieces left. It involves four characters; Hamm, who is blind and unable to stand; Clov, a servant, unable to sit; Nagg, Hamm’s father with no legs and lives in a dustbin and Hamm’s mother, Nell, who also lives in a dustbin next to her husband and has no legs. Simon McBurney directed te production and played Clov, with Mark Rylance as Hamm. It also featured Tom Hickey as Nagg and Miriam Margolyes as Nell. The Duchess is on of the few West End Theatres to have veranda over the stage door, because it’s only a few metres away form the man entrance. However, on a particularly inclement November night in 2009, driving horizontal rain with extras rendered it useless – in fact it became a collection point for large quantities of H2O and acted as a a sieve. thankfully one drip landed on my caption text and not the artwork or sigs. God respects ‘graphers, me thinks.

Drawings: Ian McKellen and Simon Callow in Waiting for Godot at Theatre Royal Haymarket

Ian McKellen Estragon

Following on from yesterday’s Pickup Lines, I also produced sketches of the other main characters from Samuel Beckett’s absurdist tragicomedy Waiting for Godot in a similar ‘elemental’ style – like the play itself.

Sir Ian McKellen as Estragon and Simon Callow as Pozzo also signed their respective renderings at the Theatre Royal Haymarket in August 2009.

Simon Callow - Pozzo Simon Callow note

Drawing: John Hurt and Sir Michael Gambon in Krapp’s Last Tape

John Hurt001Michael Gambon001

KRAPP’S LAST TAPE is a one-act play for one actor by Samuel Beckett. I first saw it performed by John Hurt at the New Ambassadors Theatre in London in March, 2000. It’s genre is  described as ‘minimalist monodrama’. It’s Krapp’s 69th birthday and he hauls out his old tape recorder, listens to a recording he did 30 years earlier, before making a new one.

Sir Michael Gambon performed a revival at the Duchess Theatre in October 2010.