Her Voice | Samuel Beckett Theatre | Oct 10-11 | Inspired by Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days
The lifework of Makoto Sato and Keiko Takeya
Happy Days was written by Beckett and first performed in 1961. It is the tale of Winnie, a woman buried up to her waist, and later up to her neck, while carrying out a variety of routine tasks. The work contrasts the banal actions with the bizarre location where it transpires. The other character is Winnie’s husband Willie, who lurks in the background largely ignoring his wife’s banter. Her Voice is inspired by the Beckett play but is without one major element!
This play supposes that Beckett’s text was an internal monologue and not something spoken out loud. The seed for this work came from Keiko Takeya reading the text for Happy Days. She became fascinated by the complexity of the stage directions. This inspired her to set about creating a new version of the play, where the language was stripped away, revealing the movement and choreography that Beckett intended to be the backdrop for his text. Keiko first learnt the original text and stage directions before removing the language and leaving the skeleton behind.
The play sticks largely to the same structure as the original. For those familiar with the text, you can piece together what is being said at any point from the actions of the actor. While the play is wordless, it is not silent. There are a variety of musical pieces used to soundtrack the work, with piano, orchestral and electronic music all used at different times. There are also a number of grunts, groans and screams from the actors themselves.
While the first act of the play sticks very closely to the original if without the text, the second act is completely reworked and abridged. In truth, it would have been almost impossible to hold the attention of the audience for a sustained period using solely facial expressions, so this was possibly a wise choice. The work will obviously not appeal to a wide audience. For one, it would make little sense to anyone not familiar with Happy Days itself. It is a play for those who want to delve deeper into Beckett’s work and this piece does allow you to view it from a different perspective. In some quarters, Beckett is considered the master of the pause. The moment of calm where the actor faces the audience without barriers. This work simply takes it a step beyond!
Cast and Creative Team
Directed by Makoto Sato
Performed by Keiko Takeya and Togo Igawa
Choreography: Keiko Takeya
Set Design: Makoto Sato
Lighting Design: Takanori Nakata
Sound Design: Takeshi Shima