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Absurdism

By salihabordj Mar 27, 2013 19756 Words
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This thesis has been approved by The Honors Tutorial College and the School of Theater

Dr. William F. Condee Director of Studies, Theater Tutorial Program Thesis Advisor

Dr. Angela Ahlgren Visiting Assistant Professor Thesis Advisor

Jeremy Webster Dean, Honors Tutorial College

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HAPPY DAYS: A MODERN WOMAN’S APPROACH TO ABSURDISM THROUGH FEMINIST THEATER THEORY

A Thesis Presented to The Honors Tutorial College Ohio University

In Partial Fulfilment Of the Requirements for Graduation From The Honors Tutorial College With the degree of Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theater

By: Rachel Collins

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Table Of Contents Introduction ……………………………………………………………..……………4 On Absurdism………………………………………………………………………...6 On Beckett…………………………………………………………………………...10 Happy Days Production History…………………………………………………….16 Feminist Theater………………………………………………………….…………18 Beckett and Gender (Happy Days)………………………………………………….23 Happy Days in Performance: A Feminist Perspective (Process)………………….34 Happy Days in Performance: Reflection…………………………………………...40 Conclusion……………………………………………………………………………48 Annotated Bibliography…………………………………………………………….52 Creative Supplementary Materials…………………………………………...……59 Happy Days Rehearsal Notes………………….…...………………………………..59 Happy Days Rehearsal Script……………………….………………………………74 Happy Days Program and Event Flier……………………………………………...92 Happy Days Production Photos……………………………………………………..94

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Introduction This thesis examines the character of Winnie in Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days through performance and the lens of feminist theory and critique. In the wake of the Second World War, a number of artists in Europe attempted to find meaning in what some considered a meaningless world. The war had ravaged Europe, and it was difficult to find hope across the continent. Many artists during this time were concerned with existentialist ideas. These new social constructs led dramatists to experiment with new forms, which dealt with these existentialist philosophies through a dramatic medium. These forms experimented with language, de-railed linear plotlines, and placed characters in bizarre situations. Martin Esslin, the producerjournalist turned scholar, coined the phrase “the Theatre of the Absurd” in his book of the same title. One of the major writers of this new form of drama was Samuel Beckett. Since Beckett’s plays began to be performed in the 1950’s, theater critics have typically viewed performances of Beckett’s works through the lens of existentialism, and his style prompted many to consider him an absurdist. Absurdist theories were able to frame the dramatic works for that time, but as the social constructs of Western culture, especially those concerning women, have changed, so has dramatic criticism of women. As half a century has passed since the initial writing of Beckett’s plays, it is important to consider them, especially those with strong female characters, through a modern feminist critique. Beckett’s writing took place during the second women’s movement. The Second World War had changed people’s views on morality, and society was forced to

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redefine its standards. Before the First World War, class structure in Europe was rigidly defined. People “knew their place” and the gap between the rich and the poor was almost un-crossable. The war created opportunities for the lower class to advance in social position, but once it was over, society attempted to return to its pre-War structure. This cycle happened again after the Second World War. During the war, oppressed peoples in Europe were allowed to do things that they hadn’t been able to previously, but once it was over they were expected to return to their place in society. In Europe these people, including racial and religious minorities, the working class, and women, were fed up with these constraints. Women in particular strove to gain more equality in the job market and other venues. Beckett was in the interesting position of writing in the midst of this social revolution. In many ways, he was very familiar with the old world and traditions, where women’s place in society was subservient to her husband. But he was also looking forward to what the future could bring. His work in many ways anticipated the second women’s movement. Beckett’s early dramatic works are filled with male characters. Each of these men is attempting to answer the most basic of life’s questions: Who are we and why are we here? However, it was not until 1961 with Happy Days that he gave the stage over completely to the voice of a woman. In Waiting for Godot, Endgame, and Krapp’s Last Tape, women were not given a strong voice on the stage’s playing space. With Happy Days and the character of Winnie, Beckett gave women a voice in his work. Traditionally, Happy Days has been viewed through an existentialist lens, much in the same way that Beckett’s other works are

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viewed. This study, however, attempts to re-frame Happy Days through a new set of scholarly examinations: the ideas of feminist theory and theatrical performance. Through scholarly research and performance of the piece, I looked at this important work from a new perspective. In the twenty-first century, an actress cannot approach the part with the same background as a woman playing the role in the early 1960’s. While it is important to look at plays within the historical context and tradition in which they were originally performed, this view limits the performer. If one was to only look at a piece of work historically and not interpret it using modern approaches, theater would, I believe, eventually become stale and no longer relevant to the world other than from a historical museum. Happy Days needs a new evaluation. It is time to examine it through the eyes of a modern-day woman, because that is the person who will be performing this role today. On Absurdism Absurdism was a deviation from traditional French theater but not conscience movement in itself. At the beginning of the twentieth century the avant-garde movement was regarded in the same vein as the symbolists of the late nineteenth century: their art was attempting to achieve the same results. Symbolists were reacting against the naturalist and realist forms of art and believed that the only way to represent the truth and meaning of life was to do it indirectly, instead of through exact imitation of reality. Much of the world was trying to recover after two large-scale wars. During the late 1940’s and the 1950’s, the French were interested in looking at the past for inspiration for their drama. Myths, legends, and symbols were primarily

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used as subject matter. Particular emphasis was placed on the structure of language, for “the ‘poetic avant-garde’ represent[ed] a different mood; it is more lyrical, and far less violent and grotesque” than the theater of the absurd (Esslin 25). Productions tackled the mystery of dreams and desire through traditional dramatic conventions. Paris, which has been the cradle of a number of new artistic movements, was the birthplace for new schools of thought, and the avant-garde of Paris drama “ is this part of the ‘anti-literary’ movement of our time, which has found its expression in abstract painting, with its rejection of ‘literary’ elements in pictures; or in the ‘new novel’ in France, with its reliance on the description of objects and its rejection of empathy and anthropomorphism” (Esslin 26). Theater artists realized that this was an important advancement for their art form as well, and began to experiment with these forms through dramatic constructs. Esslin choose the word “absurd” to describe these plays based on the word’s definition, which means “out of harmony with reason or propriety; incongruous, unreasonable, illogical” (Esslin 23). The work of the absurdist playwrights, including Samuel Beckett, Eugene Ionesco, Harold Pinter, Edward Albee, Tom Stoppard, and David Mamet, carry these attributes. Most of these dramatists claimed they are not trying to be “absurdist.” Even Esslin, who coined the phrase, states that “the writers in question [are] individuals[s] who regard themselves as lone outsiders, cut off and isolated in his private world” (22). This phrase has, however, been accepted widely to describe plays of this type, because the authors in question “can be seen as the

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reflection of what seems to be the attitude most genuinely representative of that era in style, execution, and philosophy” (Esslin 22-23). Esslin borrowed these notions of existentialism from the ideas of Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus. Camus’ essay “The Myth of Sisyphus” (1942) deals with existential issues, such as a lack of a God or omnipotent presence and fixed moral standards. Throughout the essay he stages an argument around suicide to examine what he considers the absurdity of life. In short, he believes that “the absurd enlightens [himself] on this point: there is no future” (Camus 58). He delves into the idea that life has no true purpose, and even when many humans discover how mundane life is, they still choose to continue living. Esslin quotes Camus: A world that can be explained by reasoning, however faulty, is a familiar world. But in a universe that is suddenly deprived of illusions and of light, man feels a stranger. His is an irremediable exile, because he is deprived of memories of a lost homeland as much as he lacks the hope of a promised land to come. This divorce between man and his life, the actor and his setting, truly constitutes the feeling of absurdity. (Camus qtd. in Esslin 18) With these ideas of man’s insignificant place in the world, humans, not God, determine their own existence. In the absence of the influence of a higher power, there is no longer any certainty in an afterlife, or in anything, as humans are fallible beings. This then creates a philosophy that is based more on the individual versus the collective. Sartre on the other hand explains a more hopeful interpretation of existentialism. While Camus stresses the human’s inability to break the cycle of absurdity, Sartre asserts that humans are absurd because their free will always puts

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them in complete control of their fate. In his book Existentialism and Human Emotions, Sartre asserts: Man is condemned to be free. Condemned, because he did not create himself, yet, in other respects is free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does. The existentialist does not believe in the power of passion. He will never agree that a sweeping passion is a ravaging torrent which fatally leads a man to certain acts and is therefore an excuse. He thinks that man is responsible for his passion (Sartre 23). A person is therefore in complete control of his or her own destiny. There is no God, so there is no set of doctrines or moral code to follow. The only thing that one has to rely upon is his or herself, and that reliance is what creates absurdity. Life has no meaning, because “before you come alive, life is nothing; it’s up to you to give it a meaning, and value is nothing else but the meaning that you choose” (Sartre 49). Therefore, life is meaningless unless one chooses to give it meaning. The philosophies of Camus and Sartre are critical to understanding the existential elements of the absurdist works. Another aspect of absurdism is that it attempts to create a world that accentuates the strange and bizarre. In short, it “strives to express its sense of the senselessness of the human condition and the inadequacy of the rational approach by the open abandonment of rational devices and discursive thought” (Esslin 24). It has a chaotic structure that creates the illusion of an irrational universe. The plots are unclear, as well as the relationship between the characters. There is ambiguity in space, time, and relationships between characters. Words and phrases are repeated so that language itself becomes inadequate and incomprehensible. Reality is skewed so that the viewer does not know the difference between fact and fiction. Plays tend to be

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cyclical in that they end in the same place they started. These never-ending cycles create an illusion of despair, and remind the audience how continually hopeless life can be. There is also a strong vaudevillian presence within absurdist drama: this creates an element of humour that otherwise might be absent, and also highlights that as desperate as life can be, there are still moments of laughter within misery. The plays are funny and tragic at the same time, and they utilize traditional clowning techniques as well as orchestrated pauses to convey their messages. Therefore, “the Theatre of the Absurd has renounced arguing about the absurdity of the human condition; it merely presents it in being” (Esslin 25). Although absurdism is a widely defined genre, Beckett is considered by many scholars to be one of the pioneers of the form. When considering other playwrights and plays as absurdist, many scholars to this day compare the writers and works to Beckett’s canon. Therefore Beckett, although he does not consider himself to be an absurdist writer, is one of the major contributors to this style of theater. His works are numerous and his unique style is what brought absurdism to the forefront of dramatic movements of the late twentieth century. On Beckett Samuel Beckett was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1906 to Protestant middle-class parents. After he pursued his education in Ireland he was offered a teaching fellowship in Paris, which he accepted. There he met James Joyce and a variety of other artists. Joyce, impressed by Beckett, stated that “he thought Beckett had promise--a rare

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gesture for him” (Alvarez 12). It was during the late 1940’s and into the early 1950’s that Beckett “began his lifelong association with Paris” and his fascination with the French language and linguistics in general. It was then that Beckett began writing; he published his first novel Murphy in 1938. After spending time in Ireland with his mother, Beckett returned to Paris when World War Two began. He volunteered for the Red Cross and was involved in the war in many ways, from helping with wounded soldiers, to joining radical political groups and trying to aide France’s war effort. He was forced to flee Paris when friends in a radical political group were arrested. Once the war ended, Beckett returned to Paris. It was during this post-war period that he wrote a number of dramatic works, including his most famous play, Waiting for Godot (Bair 381). After Godot Beckett wrote Endgame (1957) and Krapp’s Last Tape (1958). Shortly after the premier of Krapp he began writing Happy Days in October of 1960. Happy Days came at an interesting time in Beckett’s career: because of the success of Godot, Endgame, and Krapp, “celebrated playwrights, [and] other dramatists who studied his plays wanted to share their ideas, and in most cases, to pay him homage” (Bair 527). His new fame also caused rifts in Beckett’s personal life. He and his partner Suzanne Deschevaux-Dumesnil were planning on getting married, but wanted to keep the ceremony under wraps. They were making their relationship official because Beckett had realized current French law would not allow Suzanne to inherit the estate or his money if he were to die. They wanted to get married in England because “as an Irish citizen whose financial affairs were concentrated in

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England, he had to be married there to insure the legality of the ceremony and Suzanne’s right to inherit his estate” (Bair 530). However, since Beckett and Suzanne had been living in Paris, he had to reside in England for two weeks before the ceremony was legal, according to English law. During these few weeks, Beckett hid himself from the public eye in the Bristol Hotel and worked on his Happy Days manuscript. Like his early plays, Happy Days is an examination of life in an absurd situation. A woman, Winnie, is buried alive in an ant hill in a scorched landscape, while her husband Willie prattles around behind the landscape. Winnie is first buried up to her bosom and then to her neck in a large hill (presumably an abandoned ant hill, as one single emmet wanders the mound). She spends her days chatting about seemingly mundane nonsense, all with the hope that Willie might just be listening to her. While Winnie endures blistering heat, increased immobility, and a strident bell that keeps her from falling asleep, “she remains to the bitterest end, implacably optimistic and talkative” (Alvarez 108). Her unfailing hope in the future is both depressing and hopeful. It is her optimism that causes so many audience members to be moved by Winnie. In one Beckett biography, Diedre Bair asserts that as a result of Beckett’s increasing fame, Suzanne found it more difficult than usual to deal with her new husband. According to Bair: She resented his fame and felt that he should have made a more public acknowledgement of her important role in bringing it about. She wanted to be known as the helpmate who had made his success possible. He wanted nothing at all known about himself, least of all details which he considered of no more

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than domestic import. He felt he had demonstrated his gratitude to her by marrying her when both considered the ceremony a mockery. (533) Bair believes the couple grew apart as the years passed: “They had nothing in common anymore, but neither thought of parting. Beckett began to envision their relationship as one in ineluctable bondage, and from then on, veiled references to their situation began to appear in his writing” (Bair 534). It is conceivable that much of the Happy Days plot was derived from his personal life, because it was written during the events surrounding his secret wedding. Other biographers, including James Knowleson, assert that Beckett and Suzanne had a loving relationship. While they were having problems in their small apartment, they felt if they moved to a bigger space they would have more time to live independently of each other. Therefore, Knowlson notes “the [bigger apartment] allowed them to live parts of their lives independently-without one disturbing the other, if he or she did not want to be disturbed” (423). Knowlson also mentions in this biography that Beckett had a mistress named Barbara during this part of his life, but that Beckett still felt (even though he waited almost a quarter of a century to marry her) that he was committed to Suzanne. In this account the marriage was troubled, but the couple was working through their problems. Because of their fiercely independent personalities, both wanted and desired independent space: their union worked best when there was a good combination of time together and time apart. It is this examination of Beckett’s married life that is pertinent to Happy Days, as Beckett’s view on the institution of marriage and lifelong commitment is explored throughout the text.

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As Beckett is from Ireland and his English dialect is influenced by that country, Happy Days has Irish undertones in plot and form. While Beckett spent a majority of his life in France, his strongest ties were to his Irish roots. He was fascinated by the old ways or the old words that the Irish used, such as emmet (an ant). The way Beckett manipulates language is particularly Irish. Beckett’s use of the language is distinctive, utilizing traditional Irish techniques of “repetitive . . . words or sentences; . . . transformations, division, contraction, shortening and lengthening of words; and the minimization of the number of different words per sentence, but also exaggeration through redundance” (Van Slooten 48). Beckett also was very attached to music in the Irish tradition. He wrote to utilize “vocal techniques and sound effects [including] the sound of vowels and consonants and the alternately winded, syncopated, and pounding rhythms” to shape his texts” (Van Slooten 48). What is most interesting about this concept is the life and mobility that the Irish language gives to a piece like Happy Days, where the central character is trapped in a hill. The dialect itself requires a wide range of emotion and tonality in its expression, so that “stage directions such as ‘sad’, ‘suppliant’, ‘very excited’, ‘irritated’, ‘laughing’, ‘explosive’, ‘melancholy’, and the individual diction for different characters indicate how much importance [Beckett] attached to these matters and show how his words should be voiced” (Van Slooten 58). Because of the nature of the language in Happy Days, it is important to evaluate it through the Irish musicality to find the momentum of a play that contains little to no stage movement otherwise.

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This “Irishness” can be seen in a London performance of Happy Days at the Old Vic Theater in 1975 (later transferred to the Lyttleton Theater in 1976). In this production, Dame Peggy Ashcroft played Winnie, Harry Lomax played Willie, and Peter Hall directed. Despite Ashcroft’s positive reputation, this particular production received a number of mixed reviews. One reviewer, Rosemary Pountney, believed that Ashcroft’s biggest weakness was her lack of vocal range. She believed that while Ashcroft had a great vocal capacity, Pountney loathed the Irish accent that Ashcroft attempted: Her greatest strength as an actress, the marvellous flexibility of her voice, was flattened and deadened in an attempt to convey an Irish accent—not a strong Irish accent, but, much more difficult for a non-Irish woman, the suggestion of one. A ‘non-accent’ accent resulted, with Dame Peggy’s superb voice not merely out of tune but restricted in its range, as though straitjacketed. Thus Winnie’s fluctuations of mood...were dulled and Act 1 seemed to lack impact (Pountney). Although Ashcroft did not do the dialect justice, Pountney addresses that Beckett had written a musical quality to his dialogue, which in many cases is what “scores” the actress through the piece. The repetitions in the script work as guidelines and create the score of the production. Pountney was impressed by understanding of the Irish nature of the piece, but not so much their enactment of it. It is important to note that Happy Days was originally written in English, whereas most of Beckett’s works were previously written in French. Beckett stated that his reasons for writing in French were because it gave him a strict structure around the language. Because French was not his native language he was forced to be selective when he chose words, he chose words selectively, and did not inadvertently

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embellish the language (Van Slooten 48). Although he translated all of his plays himself from French to English, there is still an element of sparseness to the language. Since Happy Days was originally in English, the style of the writing is different. Although there are pauses in the dialogue, the sentence structure flows differently than the sparse language of Godot or Endgame. Therefore, Beckett’s use of the English language in my production is paramount to understanding it through performance. Happy Days Production History Happy Days was performed for the first time on September 17, 1961 in New York at the Cherry Lane Theater. The production starred Ruth White as Winnie and John C. Becher as Willie; Alan Schneider directed the production. Schneider and Beckett had a long career as collaborators. Schneider directed a number of Beckett’s plays, including the American premier of Waiting for Godot, and Film¸ among many others. Because of prior commitments Beckett was unable to come to New York to supervise direction of this production. The two men therefore corresponded in letters to relay information, and according to Bair “Beckett's letters could easily become a textbook for Happy Days should [anyone] ever decide to publish them” (536). As with any Beckett performance, the directions given to the actors were thoroughly specific, as Bair describes: They are long and painstaking, filled with minute directions for action and how it should correspond to speech; detailed descriptions of lighting, even to the physical properties, brand name and positing of each individual bulb; and a series of drawings in pen and ink done by Beckett to show exactly how he wanted Winnie and her mound to appear, and what the position of Willie should be at all times in relation to her. (536)

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At many times throughout the process, Schneider was worried that he was not doing Beckett or his script justice, since the directions were so specific. He remained worried until the show opened to an eager audience. The reviews of the play were mixed, as they had been for many Beckett plays before, but the reviewers who liked the production were not shy in their praises. In The New York Times, Howard Taubman praised the performance, especially White’s, stating that she: conveys a profound sense of the dark, empty spaces of Winnie's life. She uses her voice to achieve a remarkable range of nuance. Her eyes, her lips, the very lines in her face suggest mood and feeling. She fusses bravely with the black shopping bag that seems to contain all her worldly possessions. Her attempt to be invincible turns into a pitiable failure. At the end, with the silly, feathered little hat atop the head projecting out of the mound, she seems like a puny, weary Earth Mother of a mean, despairing world. (Taubman) The performance was praised for its ability to not only inspire viewers to look at life’s deep existential and sometimes disheartening questions, but also to reveal compassion, which is rare in Beckett’s works (Taubman). Ruth White’s performance was so revered that she received a 1962 Obie Award for Distinguished Performance. While the first few performances were received well, they were still looked at from a primarily masculine perspective. The majority of theater reviewers were male, and so the comments on the productions came from a male perspective. At this time however, a different group of artists was exploring theater from a feminist perspective. They experimented with dramatic forms to highlight the female experience, which they believed to be lacking in society. It was during the late 1950’s and early 1960’s that feminist theater began to be produced.

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Feminist Theater For many centuries the theatrical arts were dominated by men. Notable feminist scholar Sue-Ellen Case states that when the second-wave feminist movement began in the early 1960’s, “the singular term ‘feminism’ was often employed to describe a variety of political and critical realms. This term was interchangeable with the term ‘the women’s movement’” (62). The feminist movement was divided into a number of philosophies. In the theatrical world, there are two major approaches that scholars have identified as self-conscious approaches to feminist work: that of the radical or cultural feminists and that of the materialist feminists, otherwise known as socialist or Marxist feminists. Both of these groups influenced how the experiences of women were presented on stage. The most common form of feminism in the United States and democratic European countries was what Case identifies as radical feminism. This particular form of feminism “is based on the belief that the patriarchy is the primary cause of the oppression of women...the patriarchy represents all systems of male dominance and is regarded as the root of most social problems” (Case 64). Radical feminist performers and theater practitioners have concerns with the style of realism, because of “the nature of realism as a conservative force that reproduces and reinforces dominant cultural relations” in which man is superior to woman (Dolan 84). They believe that most male playwrights write about the male experience from a male perspective, even if writing female characters, and that the male experience is directly linked to patriarchal society. According to Jill Dolan:

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By rejecting both realism and the genderized posturings of the of the maledominated experimental theater groups, the new feminist theater meant to create woman identified productions. This work, created by women for women, focused on woman’s experience with one another and their connections to each other through gender and sex. Identifying with each other as women was meant as an antidote to their oppression under patriarchy (85). Radical feminists believe that realism is inherently patriarchal, so they want to create a new form of realism for the female spectator so she “can find a coherent identity in the mirror image they hold up” (Dolan 99). It was the continual oppression of the feminine gender that most radical feminists wanted to examine. One of the most significant oppressions that women felt was that of sexual oppression from a maleoriented society. For centuries, “male culture made women’s bodies into objects of male desire, converting them into sites of beauty and sexuality for men to gaze upon” (Case 66). Many women as a result were afraid to discuss intimate details about their biology or their sex lives and desires. Radical feminists wanted to challenge social norms and allow for women’s issues to rise to the surface, to reclaim women’s place in history. They wanted to portray women’s collective struggles against the “patriarchal backdrop on which women have been victimized,” to highlight the centuries of male dominance in the theater (Dolan 88). In radical feminist theater, Brechtian and Artaudian techniques were often utilized. The Verfremdungseffekt, otherwise known as the distancing effect, is a technique Bertolt Brecht used in his epic theater to ensure that the audience would not become emotionally attached to the characters and could serve as an external political observer. In contrast, Antonin Artaud believed that the theater should contain an aspect of cruelty. He did not intend cruelty to mean causing physical pain for an actor

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or audience, but cruelty in the way of making violent or disturbing actions on stage so the audience member is forced to deal with uncomfortable topics. Brechtian techniques are used in feminist theater to alienate the audience and Artaudian to make them feel uncomfortable as they are faced with the breaking of cultural norms. Radical feminist performances, however, differ from those traditions in that radical feminist performances generally consist of a ritualistic element, which created the illusion of timelessness. This differs from Brecht’s usual usage of historical events to surround his plotlines. These performances also highlighted the biology of women and the power they held as a result, whereas Brecht largely concentrated on the politics and Artaud on the cruel intentions. While this was the intention, often “the body is curiously lost in [performance], perhaps because truly considering the body in space means dealing with the representational apparatus, which the feminine aesthetic is inadequate to handle” (Dolan 97). This struggle between rejecting and embracing realism is used as a means to advance feminist ideologies through performance. Dolan and Case discuss one other type of feminist performance: that of the materialist feminist. The major idea materialist feminism expounds is that all oppression comes from societal construction, and that capitalism is the major determinant in this construction. This can be seen through a historical labor production as Dolan explains: Production is the central human action played out in the market place and, for women, in the domestic sphere. The organisation of the forces of production and the role of wages create the situation of the worker. In the market place, the woman worker has generally been paid lower wages than the man and retained in a subordinate position without upward mobility. In the domestic sphere, unpaid housework and unpaid

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reproductive and child-rearing labour have been instrumental in shaping the condition of women. The nuclear family is perceived as a unit of private property, in which the wife-mother is exploited by the male as well as by the larger organisation of capitalism (Dolan 83). Therefore, the materialist feminists believe that there should not be a distinction between genders, but that all genders should be treated with equal weight. Instead of viewing women as a gender, they are treated as a class, much like middle class, upper class, or working class. In short, the woman lives in a system that provides free labor to her husband or her employer. She provides free labor for her husband “by producing future workers as babies and by preparing the labourer for each day’s work” (Case 84). As a result, this form of feminism has been most prominent in European countries, as the class structure is more defined in those countries than in North America. The only way that a woman can liberate herself from this structure, according to this form of feminism, is to enter the workforce. According to Simone de Beauvoir1 in her revolutionary text The Second Sex (1949), when a woman receives employment she is liberated from her husband and can be her own member of the social structure. She then “ceases to be a parasite [and] the system based on her dependence crumbles; between her and the universe there is no longer any need for a masculine mediator” (Beauvoir 679). In patriarchal society, men have the liberty of having their occupation not determined by their gender. Women who try to deviate from this norm are subject to oppression, as “the woman who does not conform devaluates herself sexually and hence socially, since sexual values are an integral feature of [a patriarchal] society” (Beauvoir 682). Materialist feminists believe that by changing the economic structure,

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the social structure will soon follow. If women are given equal opportunities in the workplace and are treated as men, they will not be sexualized and demoralized as before. Therefore, in performance, materialist feminists do not see it necessary to portray women as accurately as they would in life, because that is not the aim. The aim is to see women as a class, not as a performer of gender. Materialist feminists believed that the theater could be used to advance their gender in society, but they felt that the radical feminists were slightly misguided. They felt that if women were still working under the constraints of a male society, they were weakening women until she could only exist as a representation on stage. Therefore, the materialist feminists wanted to discover “how to inscribe a representational space for women that will point out the gender enculturation promoted through the representational frame and that will belie the oppressions of the dominant ideology it perpetuates” (Dolan 101). The materialist feminists deviated from the idea that “patriarchy is everywhere and always the same and that all women are ‘sisters’” and instead used their theater to underscore “the role of class and history in creating the oppression of women” (Case 82). The most successful way to make their points, they believe, is by highlighting the arbitrary nature of gender and its performance in society, and to assert that all real differences between individuals are the results of class inequalities, which in turn manifest in gender inequality. They wish “to reveal the complicity of the representational apparatus in maintaining sexual difference,” and prove that it is not as important to maintain these differences on stage as it had been in works of realism (Dolan 101).

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It is through the performance ideologies of radical and materialist feminism that most feminist theater of the late twentieth century can be categorized. Also, many subsequent forms of feminist theater have been widely influenced by these theories, either directly or because the performers choose explicitly to deviate from the feminist theater norm in order to make their own points on gender in society. However, even today, much of feminist theater employs techniques of distancing, alienation, highlighting differences between sexes. They are less concerned with making sure gender is represented accurately on stage in accord with realism, or talking about issues that are traditionally considered feminine, such as women’s sexuality, body, and life experiences due to gender. Beckett and Gender (Happy Days) Beckett is often criticized as being sexist. This claim comes mainly from the way the Beckett Estate, which is in control of all of Beckett’s works, deals with gender when giving out performance rights to companies. Beckett has made it very clear that only men are allowed to perform the roles for men, and women are allowed to perform the roles for women. His estate has filed a number of lawsuits on companies trying to change the gender roles in his works and has been successful in most instances (Jeffreys). Though some have gotten angry at the iron grip that the Beckett Estate seems to have on Beckett’s works, there is a logic to the demand that each gender represented in a play must be played by an actor of that gender. Beckett intentionally wrote a part for a man so a man could play it, in the same way that he wrote a part for a woman to play. He wrote very clear male and female voices. The female voice

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especially that of Winnie, is inherently unique. She does not speak about herself or her troubles in the way that Vladimir and Estragon do in Godot. She does not speak about prostates or having an erection, she speaks about lipstick and quotes Shakespeare. Therefore, it is imperative to explore gender and choice of language in Beckett’s works, because he was so deliberate with gender in his productions. In many ways, Beckett has represented his women stereotypically. Throughout his writing career, however, Beckett began to challenge his original notions and began to portray women more diversely. At the beginning of his career, when he was focusing on prose, most of Beckett’s women were overbearing and clearly antagonistic to men. For example, in his first novel Murphy, the main female character, Celia, is a prostitute that Murphy lives with. Celia makes many demands of Murphy, and is portrayed as an overbearing woman throughout. On the other hand, Beckett did move away from some established theatrical gender roles. In traditional gender roles, young women were often sexualized and are portrayed as “beautiful, chaste, and usually static” (Bryden 18). Some say that Beckett does not conform to this gender stereotype because most of his women are loud, overbearing, in grotesque circumstances, and older. For example, in Happy Days, Winnie is continually overbearing toward Willie, especially when giving him specific directions on how she wants things done. He cannot even go where he wants without Winnie screeching, “Do as I say, Willie, don’t lie sprawling there in this hellish sun, go back into your hole” (Beckett 25). Winnie has lost much of her vitality, and in a way is so far removed from it she is no longer bound to the stereotypes of youth. Instead, Winnie is

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confined to stereotypes of age, as many older women are portrayed as meddling, controlling, and loving, just as Winnie is. Another gender stereotype would be the care that Winnie takes in preserving her appearance. Throughout the beginning of the play, Winnie is focused on making sure she keeps up her physical appearance. The act of obsessive grooming and the placement of value in physical appearance tend to be regarded as feminine traits. At the beginning of the play Winnie is following her morning routine. She brushes her teeth, checks herself in the mirror, and begins to apply lipstick. She is also concerned about the appearance of her hair. Winnie is in the middle of a thought when she anxiously cries out, “My hair! Did I brush and comb my hair? I may have done, normally do” (Beckett 22). In a number of productions of Happy Days, the design takes into account the idea that in Act II Winnie is unable to move her arms any longer. Therefore she is unable to tend to her personal appearance. In the 2007 production of Happy Days at the Royal National Theatre in London starring Fiona Shaw, the actress had blackened teeth, mussed hair, and a dirtied face at the onset of Act II. This showed that Winnie was unable to take care of herself, and this choice is even supported in the text when Winnie mentions, “Willie, look at me. Feast your old eyes, Willie. Does anything remain? Any remains? No? I haven’t been able to look after it, you know” (Beckett 62). Willie, as a man, does not tend to his appearance in the same vein at all, and to that effect does not help Winnie keep up her looks when she is no longer able. Winnie must give him orders on how to take care of his

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appearance. Therefore, Beckett places the female in the stereotypical role of taking care of her appearance, while the male is placed in the role where he does not. Winnie is also obsessed with her declining looks. It is clear that she spends much of her time trying to impress Willie and feels that because she has lost her looks, she has lost what makes her desirable to men. She states, “Was I lovable once, Willie? Was I ever lovable? Do not misunderstand my question, I am not asking you if you loved me, we all know about that, I am asking if you found me loveable at one stage” (Beckett 31). Winnie believes that her lovability is directly attached to the past, and therefore her youth. It is generally considered typical of women, rather than men, to be obsessed with their own youth and beauty. Women are typically cast off as undesirable when they reach a certain age, whereas men have a much longer time frame before society deems them too old to be physically attractive. Winnie also remembers her beauty from before she was in the mound, stating: and now? The face. The nose. I can see it… the tip…the nostrils…breath of life… that curve you so admired… if I stick it out…the tip…suspicion of brow…eyebrow…imagination possibly…. Cheek…no…no… even if I puff them out… no…no…damask. (Beckett 52) She truly believes that her looks are the only reason that Willie could have ever loved her, and now that they are gone, she has no means of attraction. It is stereotypically characteristic of a woman to have these thoughts, and the preoccupation fits the gender stereotype. Winnie is also a stereotypical woman in the way she remembers her past lovers. For example, she is very sentimental about the memories of her first ball and her first kiss. It was with “a Mr. Johnson, or Johnston, or perhaps I should say

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Johnstone. Very bushy moustache, very tawny. Almost ginger! Within a toolshed, though whose I cannot conceive” (Beckett 16). According to most gender stereotypes, it is typical of women to be obsessive over past relationships. Winnie’s memory is no exception. She also remembers another lover before Willie named Charlie. It is a fleeting memory, where she contemplates the situation, stating, “Ah yes… then…now…beechen green…this…Charlie… kisses…this…all that… deep trouble for the mind” (Beckett 51). Clearly, Winnie is saddened in her memories but clings to them because she has little left that she can value as a result of her situation in the mound. Holding onto her past lovers represents Winnie’s desire to hold onto her rites of passage, including her first sexual experiences. Beckett explores a number of other stereotypes, including the purse Winnie carries. A purse is traditionally considered a feminine object to carry and generally is filled with trinkets that women are prone to using or carrying around. For example, the bag that Winnie uses is filled with such objects as a compact mirror, a handkerchief, a bottle of medicine, lipstick, a brush and comb, and a nail file. Although it can be argued that Winnie is bound to her purse because of her lack of mobility and things to occupy her time, it can also be seen as a comment on the female gender and their stereotypical dependence on the purse or bag that they carry. Winnie has great faith in her bag, and is protective of and dependent on it, stating: There is of course the bag. The bag. Could I enumerate its contents? No. Could I, if some kind person were to come along and ask, What all have you got in that big black bag, Winnie? Give an exhaustive answer? No. The depths in particular, who knows what treasures. What comforts. (Beckett 32)

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Winnie is so attached to her bag she believes that the objects themselves carry not only meaning, but life. In the second act Winnie contemplates, “It’s things, Willie. In the bag, outside the bag. Ah yes, things have their life, that is what I always say, things have a life” (Beckett 54). This materialistic view has been attributed to women in many instances. Someone who marries a person for their money or resources is more likely to be a woman than a man (even though it is a stereotype for both genders), as women are seen as a lower class, and to escape their place in the class structure they marry into their wealth as they are not as privileged to earn it themselves. There is, however, one stereotypically masculine object in the bag: the revolver. In many cases, the revolver is a symbol of power and dominance over others. In the past, men typically carried firearms on their person and were given guns to use in war, an arena that has only recently been occupied in a standard capacity by women. The shape of the gun itself can also be considered phallic. The gun, considered as a phallic object, can also be seen as a castration of Willie. Winnie has essential ownership over his manhood. This can be supported by one of Willie’s few lines, in which Winnie asks him what a “hog’s setae” is, to which he replies, “Castrated male swine. Reared for slaughter” (Beckett 47). Willie clearly sees himself as someone who is no longer in control of his masculinity and has fallen so far that his status is reduced to that of a pig. He is also so far gone that he is ready to be killed. He is on his deathbed, waiting to go to the slaughterhouse. This viewpoint is very alarming, and does shed a slightly negative light on women. Winnie, in many ways,

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can be seen as a monster for having power over the gun and therefore Willie’s masculinity. It is again remarkable to note that Winnie, not Willie, is the owner of the gun as it suggests that Winnie is in possession of the masculine object, and thereby the power. It is in her bag, and though she seems repulsed by the idea of a gun, she is also somewhat fascinated and consoled by its presence. When considering the gun, Winnie states, “oh I suppose it’s a comfort to know you’re there, but I’m tired of you. I’ll leave you out, that’s what I’ll do. There, that is your home from this day out” (Beckett 33). It is also unclear whether or not Willie is attempting to reclaim the gun from Winnie or not. At the play’s end, when Willie comes out “dressed to kill” and comes to Winnie on the mound where the gun is resting near her, Beckett makes sure that Willie’s last lunge towards the mound is ambiguous (Beckett 61). One is unsure whether or not he is trying to reach for Winnie, or for her gun. Regardless of his motive, one thing is certain: he does not attain the gun; it remains in Winnie’s possession. It is fair to assume that if the play’s narrative would have continued, Willie would never have gotten the gun from Winnie. Therefore, though Winnie is considered stereotypical with the use of her purse to carry trinkets and her attachment to her purse, she also is the wielder of a surprisingly masculine object, and the male character is unable to have it for himself. Another notable point is that commonly arises in Beckett plays is the lack of mobility women usually have, which suggests that women have little room for advancement in this world. Scholar Mary Bryden points out that “in these plays, stasis

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has more in common with aspiration than with condemnation,” meaning that those who are not moving have aspirations that are static, not that they themselves are condemned to some sort of hell (90). Nell in Endgame lives in a trash can. The women in Play (1963) are trapped in urns. While this lack of mobility can be seen in male characters as well (Nagg in Endgame, the male in Play), the effect is different. Other men are given mobility in Beckett’s works, when women are less likely to be given movement. Hamm is able to move, as is Krapp, Vladimir, Estragon, Lucky, Pozzo, and most notably Willie. Willie is given the option of mobility, whereas Winnie is not. Winnie is actually happy with her lack of movement, stating, “What a curse, mobility!” (Beckett 46). She is aware that at one time she used to be mobile, but blissfully unaware at how much easier her life was when she was mobile. She was able to hold a parasol above her head with ease instead of with pain and discomfort. She was not the object of spectacle when others passed by. She was independent in many ways because she was not bound to the earth. She even dreams of leaving her situation, and dreams that “if I were not held--in this way--I would simply float up into the blue. And that perhaps someday the earth will yield and let me go, the pull is so great, yes, crack all round and let me out” (Beckett 33). Winnie recalls these things many times and acknowledges that mobility would be best for her. But she remains complacent about her situation and still finds happiness in her utterly dependent state with Willie, because her aspirations cause her to stay immobile. Her mobility is in direct relation to her ambitions. Since her dreams are not going anywhere, neither is Winnie.

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In other ways Beckett does break standard gender stereotypes when portraying his women. In a patriarchal society the wife is supposed to be the servant to the husband. While Winnie is holding up her parasol and her arm tires, she asks his permission to put it down, stating, “bid me to put this thing down, Willie, I will obey you instantly, as I have always done, honoured, and obeyed” (Beckett 36). It seems that Winnie is a woman who is completely dependent on her husband, and in many ways she is because of her situation in the mound. However, Willie is the one who serves Winnie. Willie is the one who brings her items when she demands them, answers to her voice when she calls out to him, and essentially does whatever she demands. Winnie, in effect, has not taken the role of the stereotypical married woman. She mentions that she serves her husband and is bound to do so. Therefore she does not leave because of her duty and her vow of marriage and her situation in the hill. Willie, in the same vein, is not trapped in the hill as Winnie is. He is able to leave the harsh environment whenever he would like and essentially let fate take Winnie. He doesn’t leave, however. He takes the abusive phrases from his wife and he stays with her until presumably the end of her days. In much the same way, sex in Beckett plays is just as forgotten and elusive to men as it is to women. Characters in Beckett plays remember that sex, at one time, existed. But now it is so far in the past that it is almost forgotten. Winnie’s only memories of sex seem to be poor, as she states “sadness after intimate sexual intercourse one is familiar with of course. You would concur with Aristotle there, Willie, I fancy” (Beckett 57). Ironically, the Aristotle quotation actually refers to men,

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stating “the exhaustion consequent on the loss of even a very little of the semen is conspicuous because the body is deprived of the ultimate gain drawn from the nutriment … [so] as a general rule the result of intercourse is exhaustion and weakness rather than relief” (Alexander). It is extremely interesting that Winnie, as a woman, references such a masculine viewpoint on sexuality. However, she does seem to agree with this overtly masculine philosophy. Through her condition in the hill, Winnie’s sexuality is gradually covered up. Cooker, or Shower, as Winnie is hard at remembering, has made numerous comments about her sexuality in regards to the mound. Cooker and/or Shower is a man and his wife, that occasionally pass Winnie and Willie, and make rude comments about the state that Winnie finds herself in. Beckett was well versed in German, and used these English names as a play on words. In German, the word “schauen” means to look, and “gucken” to watch: naming his onlookers Shower and Cooker was highly suggestive. The mysterious onlooker is curious as to whether her body is still good looking, stating, “can’t have been a bad bosom…in its day. Seen worse shoulders…in my time. Does she feel her legs? . . . has she anything on underneath?” (Beckett 58). She is infuriated by the comments, yelling, “let go of me for Christ sake and drop! Drop dead!” (Beckett 58). But her condition in the mound makes it impossible to defend herself. While man and woman are both foreign to sex, it is the woman who is trapped and made a fool of, and has no way to defend herself because of the condition the playwright has placed her in. Dolan makes a point to discuss this in her work, commenting on the role that sexuality plays in performance. She believes that “if power adheres in sexuality, and cultural feminists

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assume power leads to violence against women, it becomes politically and artistically necessary to attempt to disengage representation from desire,” meaning that in feminist theater practices, women have to be presented as women, not the object of male sexual desire (Dolan 61). In Beckett’s production, Winnie is literally trapped and gaped at, proving Dolan’s point that in most of the modern canon, the representation of woman on stage is synonymous with desire. One of the scenes in Happy Days that concentrates most on sex is that in which Winnie discusses Mildred, commonly referenced as Milly, and the mouse. The story is quite frightening and underlines the idea that sex for women and for Winnie in particular has been terrifying and un-gratifying. In the second act, Winnie describes Mildred, a little girl who could have been Winnie as a young woman. She has been given a wax doll named Dolly. Milly sneaks out of her room to the nursery to undress Dolly, as she seemingly has been “forbidden to do so,” then suddenly out of nowhere a mouse appears and crawls up Milly’s leg (Beckett 55). She screams, and the entire household comes running to see what the matter is. It is at that moment that Winnie stops her story, and is too overcome to finish. It is clear from the language, that the story is one of Milly’s, or perhaps Winnie’s, first memories of sexuality and perhaps her own sexuality. Clearly the experience frightened her in regard to her sexual nature, because she abruptly stops her story by warning Willie that he “may close [his] eyes, then [he] must close [his] eyes- and keep them closed” (Beckett 59). While Winnie’s sexuality has shifted and her sex drive has been affected by her entrapment in the

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mound, it is clear that even from a young age she was not accepting of her sexuality, or able to properly deal with it because she felt violated. Throughout Beckett’s work, gender stereotypes are present. However, these stereotypes are accompanied by a number of gender deviations from the stereotypical norm. Therefore, when considering the work of Beckett, it is valid to assert that although Beckett conforms to gender stereotyping, he is not bound by them. Even though his work is informed by a world on the verge of the second-wave feminist movement, he is beginning to break gender stereotypes that are inherent in his earlier works of prose and even drama. Therefore, Happy Days is an appropriate and interesting play to look at from an absurdist feminist perspective. Happy Days in Performance: A Feminist Perspective (Process) When mounting a production there are a number of individuals involved, and they all have a certain role to play. Actors, directors, producers, and the production design team all work together to create a final performance. In the fall, I spent most of my time researching the production and writing the preliminary part of my thesis. In the production, I held two roles: that of producer and lead actress. As a producer, it was my responsibility to be in charge of the logistical elements of the production. I was responsible for coordinating the space rental, finding rehearsal spaces, making the program and fliers, and essentially all of the production aspects of the performance. Some of my duties I gave to my director and stage manager to handle, which in a typical performance would not happen; however, since I was also taking on the role as the lead actress, I had to divide my time. In that role I was expected to memorize all of

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my lines, have character ideas, personalize emotional responses and relationships, and have a set of actions to achieve my objectives. This role proved to be the most time consuming, as the Beckett script was repetitive and convoluted, making it difficult to memorize. Winnie is essentially the only character who speaks (meaning there are no other actors to rely on for help with lines and following the through line of the script, or the journey of the character throughout the play), and the nature of absurdist work makes it difficult to discover objectives and relationships. One of my first duties as producer was to assemble a production team. First, I chose a performance faculty advisor. I asked Professor Shelley Delaney because of her work with one-woman performances and her knowledge of the craft of acting. After making this choice, I was informed that Professor Delaney would not be able to help direct me in the production. I knew that as an actor I would not be able to assess my progress without the help of a director. Therefore, I asked Arielle Giselle Rogers to direct me. She graduated from Ohio University’s School of Theater with a BFA in Acting in 2011, and she is very experienced in directing and performing in onewoman shows, especially feminist works (she is the founding member of F-Word, a feminist theater performance group on Ohio University’s campus). I also needed a stage manager; someone to handle the day to day operations of rehearsal. For that I choose Jacob St. Aubin, a junior BFA stage management major because he is an impeccable organizer and very talented. I then needed a set designer to help with the construction of the hill that Winnie is buried in. I chose Ryan Myers, a senior BFA production design and technology major who specializes in set design, based on his

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previous design and portfolio work. For costumes I turned to Megan Knowles, a senior BFA production design and technology major who specializes in costumes, because I had worked with her before and she has a very impressive portfolio. For the sound design I asked Aaron Butler, a graduate student in the School of Music, because of his work in other School of Theater productions in which he utilized minimalist soundscapes and experimental music. For the lighting design I asked Keri Donovan, a BFA production design and technology major who specializes in lighting design to create the effect of the fire and generally light the show. Finally, I solicited help from one other faculty member, Laura Parrotti, who was my vocal coach throughout the process. Professor Parrotti has been a vocal coach on a number of professional productions, as well as the main voice coach for the School of Theater students. Her advice on how to handle the Beckett text from a vocal standpoint was instrumental to the process. Rehearsals for Happy Days began January 9, 2012. The cast consisted of me (Rachel Collins) as Winnie and Sean O’Brien as Willie. Rehearsals were coordinated through a joint effort between Jacob and me, but he facilitated the rehearsal reports, space rental, and coordination of meetings with the production team. The first week of rehearsals consisted of table work, which was run by Arielle. Table work is generally the term used for the first week of rehearsal, in which the actors go through the script beat by beat and look at the academic and theoretical aspects behind the script that would inform the performance. Sean and I read through the script while Arielle gave notes. Then the three of us would discuss the scholarly background of the play,

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characters, motivation, and my take on the thesis, etc., with the group and began to come up with character ideas and how to shape the piece. The main aspect we discussed through these workings was the idea that Winnie is a woman who is just trying to be heard. She is using every trick she has to get the man she loves attention, to no avail. We made many choices based on this discussion: Winnie’s tactics to be heard change throughout the piece; when she is not heard there are psychological effects. We also discussed why Willie chooses not to answer Winnie. We came up with the conclusion that Willie has spent his whole life feeling castrated by Winnie and has lost everything that makes him powerful. Therefore he ignores his wife in the hopes that she will one day decide to not talk. Jacob also participated in these table discussions, giving his input as he felt necessary in regards to the motivations of the characters. After the first week we began working on our feet with the scripts in hand, to better explore the feminist theater ideas. We set up a rehearsal space in Putnam Hall with dance mats on a table and chairs as a rehearsal hill to work with. Rehearsal props were used as well so that I could learn my lines and action in conjunction with Winnie’s objects in the bag. At those first few rehearsals scenes were taken beat by beat to further deepen the table work. A beat is one of the smallest divisions of a scene: it is essentially a small section of a scene that can be self-contained within the scene. Through these rehearsals, we were able to figure out how the props came into play in the script. We were able to work with giving each prop meaning. We gave particular attention to the gun and the music box. When we worked with the music

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box, we made sure that it was specified as having great meaning to Winnie. It was a comfort and a rock, and after specifying the meaning of the music box the moment when Willie bursts into song and Winnie overflows with joy was much richer. We also spent rehearsal time specifying the relationship with the gun. We discussed many relationships for the gun but decided that power and sexuality were the most important themes to explore. Manipulating the gun as a sexual object gave it power but also diminished it as well. This choice fed into the representation of Willie as castrated: Winnie had essentially taken the power (his manhood) away from him and had the choice to do with it what she wanted. She doesn’t do anything drastic with it, but by giving the prop such weight, we changed the nature of how the performance was given weight. Professor Delaney and I met a few times during the quarter. We stayed connected via email, she sat in on a number of rehearsals, and we also had outside meetings to discuss my progress and to hear her feedback on the performance. She took detailed notes for me and for Arielle and gave us supplementary reading materials, including a number of articles, to consider. As a faculty advisor she provided insight into the process that Arielle and I sometimes missed, and her experience with directing and performance helped the project advance quickly. Production meetings began early on as well. I met with each member of the production team during the fall before the show to talk about the play, the feminist perspective I was exploring, and how that would translate in the design. Aspects of the theory that translated into the design were the color of the mound (brown and red as

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opposed to another type of scorched color, because red is a more feminine color), the costume design with the bra intentionally showing to highlight the femininity, and the sound design to highlight the radical feminist techniques of alienation and cruelty. Once winter quarter began we scheduled a number of production meetings. Arielle, Jacob, and I met with the designers and checked in on their process. The designers sat in on a number of rehearsals, and continual communication via email and we utilized Dropbox to make sure that the design (especially the construction of the hill) was on task. Three weeks before the show opened, act runs and full runs of the play began. Once the act runs and full runs began to take place, Arielle began to give directorial notes for me and for Sean to take and make adjustments. In the final month we made finishing touches to the project. I began voice work with Laura Parrotti at this time. We had a number of weekly meetings in which she would coach me through certain sections of the script and give me vocal ideas (including coloring the words and changing pitch and intonation), which helped me with my pacing and energy, and kept the Beckett text engaging and fun. We moved into the performance space of Union Arts on February 19, choosing this venue for the basement location: it was creepy and dark setting the desolate mood of the production. The production team set up their lighting and sound equipment and the scenic designer moved the hill into the space, finished making additions, and painted the hill. The costume designer brought in costumes and props and I provided the makeup. We rented chairs from the university through Jacob’s facilitation. During

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the final week I created a flyer to hang around campus and a program to pass out to the audience members. We ran the show every night, and on Sunday February 26, we opened. Each performance went very well. There were fifty seats in the audience, and although we never sold out we had a fairly full house each performance. The show ran February 26, 27, and 28 to a very receptive and engaging series of audiences. The audiences were very impressed at the specificity in choices that surrounded the design elements, including the soundscape, the specificity of my actions around the props, and the racy nature of the costumes. I received a number of compliments from friends, family, and faculty members of both the School of Theater and the Honors Tutorial College.

Happy Days in Performance: Reflection The modern day performance of Happy Days was jointly influenced by feminist critiques and the treatment of gender stereotypes inherent in the script; I took theories found in a number of credible journals and books and applied them to the gender representations throughout the script. My use of radical feminist theories was included in my usage of highlighting the inherent sexuality in the script. As a young woman playing Winnie I wanted to highlight the female experience, especially that of sexuality, through performance. When Beckett was envisioning Happy Days he was exploring the idea of hell in an existential world. His vision of hell was very bleak, but he had a very interesting idea about it. He thought that of all people on earth, the only ones that could cope with hell were women. Beckett is quoted as stating that he “thought that the most dreadful

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thing that could happen to anybody, would be not to be allowed to sleep so that just as you’re dropping off there’d be a ‘Dong’ and you’d have to keep awake; you’re sinking into the ground alive and it’s full of ants; and the sun is shining endlessly day and night and there is not a tree … there’s no shade, nothing, and that bell wakes you up all the time and all you’ve got is a little parcel of things to see you through life. And I thought who would cope with that and go down singing, only a woman” (qtd in Knowlson). This is a very interesting concept to explore as a female performing feminist theater. Beckett literally believed that only a woman could cope with the most hellish situations. This quotation informed much of my performance and led me to explore ideas regarding why women who are in the worst possible situations choose to see the good in their struggle. Although everyone around them can see that they are stuck and they would be better off free, the woman sees admitting defeat as a sign of weakness and makes the conscious choice to carry on. Women will choose to stay in bad marriages or dead-end careers rather than show the world that they can free themselves from whatever metaphorical “ant-hill” is trapping them. Therefore, Beckett’s portrayal of gender in the text benefited immensely from an examination through a feminist scholarly perspective. Throughout the performance, we used a number of techniques that were borrowed from radical feminist theater practices. One particular element that the radical feminists explore is the deviation from realism. Beckett, by nature, is a deviation from realism. Winnie is trapped physically in a mound with no explanation of how she got there. The dialogue is not linear, so the plot does not follow a linear

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pattern like in a realism piece. In the script, Winnie only talks to three different individuals: herself, Willie, and God. In this production we included one other character for Winnie to share her stories with: the audience. The inclusion of the audience as a character for Winnie to speak to was a choice that was made to further highlight that this production is not to be considered in a realistic light, and therefore has an entirely new set of expectations. Another aspect of radical feminism is to explore female sexuality, as the radical feminists believed that much of realistic theater did not explore the female experience. This particular production highlighted sex and femininity through a number of aspects. One aspect of this was the costume choice. Winnie talks about her breasts throughout the play, and it is clear in the text that she is a very sexual human. Therefore we made a conscious costume choice to make Winnie wear a low cut sundress with a clearly visible provocative bra. A number of acting choices also supported this aspect of radical feminism. Winnie does talk about her sexual past and uses her sexuality to try to get attention. Therefore, when Winnie would reference these aspects, we made bold choices to highlight this idea. When Winnie discusses her past affair with “Mr. Johnson,” she touches herself in a sexual manner: she caresses her face, arms, and breasts, and eventually succumbs to her sexual desires. This choice was made to further exploit the concepts of age and sexuality in the piece. The most notable choice along these lines was in reference to the gun, as we interpreted the gun as a phallic image. The gun also contained all the power: it contained the power for Winnie to either kill herself or Willie. I, however, wanted to

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explore the gun through the lens of a masculine versus feminine dichotomy, especially as a phallic symbol. The gun had particular importance: a character’s desire for power versus a lack of desire for power was explored through each character’s relationship with the gun. Therefore, we made the choice that Winnie had to again use her sexuality to get what she wanted from the gun. She would tease the gun with her mouth, kiss it, and run it through her fingers. These choices were made to make the audience uncomfortable, but also to explore how women use their sexuality to manipulate situations, because they believe that that is the only way for their voice to be heard. The soundscape of our production served as a combined realization of Brechtian and Artaudian elements to deviate from realism. Aaron Butler, our sound designer, created an improvisatory jarring soundscape. Using a combination of flower pots and organ drones, he created a dissonant soundscape that ran under the entire performance. The flower pot sounds were created by taking mallets and quickly striking the pots to create different chords, and the organ drones were created by playing an organ in minor chords. This use of a musical soundscape distanced the audience from the action, while the use of non-traditional instruments was odd and in effect made the audience feel uncomfortable. The system was created in a way that Aaron could manipulate the soundscape live during each performance, using it to comment on the action. Therefore, each performance was different. The soundscape served as a reminder that the audience member was actually in a theater space and seeing a production by creating an environment that was inherently unrealistic,

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utilizing Verfremdungseffekt. On the other hand, the dissonant drones were used to create a sense of cruelty for the audience to experience, an exploration of Artaud’s theater of cruelty because the nature of dissonant sound as an unsettling object makes the audience member feel uncomfortable, and they are thereby affected by the theories of cruelty. Winnie as a character is one that I as an actor found particularly challenging technically and emotionally. Obviously, the aspect of the essentially one-woman show is daunting for any actress, but also the absurdist language and elements within the play are particularly challenging for a performer. Winnie’s unfailing happiness throughout the circumstances she is placed in is also something that I found not only intriguing when reading the play but also challenging to act. Over and over Winnie faces the impending doom of the rising hill, boredom, and Willie’s indifference to her words and actions. Through all of this, she somehow manages not only to find peace, but happiness. This extraordinary concept is what originally drew me to the script, and the continual challenges that it presented were what excited and scared me. I believe it is necessary for a modern performer, particularly a young woman, to perform this role in the theater because it alters the perspective of the script. Undoubtedly, my age at twenty-two years is not the age that Winnie is stated in the script as being (early to mid-fifties). A woman who is older brings a whole array of life experiences to a role that I as a young woman am incapable of imagining, simply because I have not lived as long. However, one thing that I as a young woman have the advantage of is my youth. My looks are most likely to be better now than they ever

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have been, and will most likely decline as I reach old age. I therefore had the advantage to exploit sections of the script to highlight the fact that I am young looking and have not lost my vitality as Winnie has. The dichotomy between the text, commenting on my worn eyes, and actual features, when I had not altered my looks, changed the way an audience would usually see this production. Winnie is somewhat obsessed with her looks and declining sexuality, and it was interesting to highlight sexuality in a manner different than what is generally performed, intending the audience to find discomfort in the disjuncture between my age and Winnie’s. As a woman who has spent the formative years of my life at the end of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first, I have a distinctive perspective of life and how gender plays a role in life. My entire life span has occurred after a number of major strides in the women’s movements have taken place. Therefore, I find myself in a very interesting position: I exist in what many consider a postfeminist world. In the western world, women are given most of the same rights as men, even if there are still strides that need to be made in the social arena. My view on the world is much different than that of a woman who has fought for her rights. In many ways, a woman in my generation can feel entitled to certain privileges, such as a high-powered career, independence from men, and no pressure to start a family. Even though these are considered to be options for all women, today much emphasis is placed on “having it all,” i.e. a career and family. As a woman, one is expected to do both, not choose. Therefore, by having a woman who has grown up in a society that pressures women to be not only the family woman but the successful career woman

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perform a role that was written for not only a woman in the 1960’s, but an older woman in the 1960’s, the experiences of the performer were inherently different than those of earlier performances. Throughout the performance, I was most proud of the accomplishment of doing a one woman Beckett play. A one-woman show is a challenge in itself; carrying the interest of the audience and just the technicality of performing without any other actors on stage. In addition, the performance challenges of a Beckett script made the play exponentially more thought provoking. Beckett utilizes repetition in his language. This makes it very challenging to memorize, because when one memorizes, they tend to use the previous line to help them remember the next line. If the previous section is the same in multiple places but different text follows, it makes it very hard to memorize. I was very proud that I accomplished the technical feat of memorization for this particular performance. Another aspect that I was proud of in the performance of the work was the vocal and physical energy needed to perform Beckett. Since Beckett uses vaudevillian theatre practices as inspiration, it is helpful to be a very specific mover and speaker when performing his works. Since Winnie does not move the entire show, it was especially important to have a diverse vocal range. As an actor that is something that I struggle with, as Midwestern vocal patterns have little vocal variety as far as diction and tone. In retrospect, I wish I had waited a few years before performing this role due to this challenge. This show has taught me a number of things about working on a play from a feminist perspective. I knew a great deal about feminist ideologies, but before this

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production, I had no idea how to articulate them through performance. The highlighting of gendered objects (props used in the show that are associated with a specific gender, such as the gun as a phallic image) and highlighting the struggles of women through performance was very helpful. In addition, looking at the struggles that women face rather than the ones that men deal with was informative. I had never thought before that most plays are performed from the male perspective, meaning that male issues are the ones that are discussed. Once I was made aware of that idea, I noticed that in many dramatic works male issues are discussed, but when female issues are explored, it makes the audience uncomfortable. I found that fascinating, and I plan to explore the discussion of female issues that are rarely explored to hopefully create a change in how people see women’s issues on stage. In time, I hope that people are just as comfortable seeing female issues dramatized as they are seeing male issues on stage. Seeing the performance through the eyes of womanhood will inform any feminist works I produce in the future. My initial goal was to comment on age and sexuality in the piece, which is why I intentionally performed it as a young woman rather than an older one. However, it was clear that this piece could have flourished more if I were a more seasoned actor. I have a fair amount of training, but an actress that has been working for 25 years would have probably attended graduate school at this time, and had a number of professional jobs as experience. As I am just finishing up my training, and I have not had much time to put my skills to practice in a real sense, I felt lost at times throughout production, and I was not sure if the show would be up to performance

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standard. Therefore, if I were to perform this play again, I would wait a number of years until I was age appropriate for the role. Then, I feel there would be a much greater understanding and depth that could be brought to the production from an acting perspective. This production primarily used elements of radical feminist theater practices. While we explored some elements of materialist feminist theater practices through the rehearsal process, including highlighting similarities between the female and male sex, we found this to be not as successful as highlighting the differences between the sexes. Any time we attempted to explore an object that we considered to be gender neutral, such as the newspaper, we were able to find an inherently masculine or feminine quality to that object, making it difficult to highlight similarities between the sexes. Beckett wrote Winnie as such a female character that, even though the play is not confined to the limitations of realism, the performance of gender was always present. There may have been slight elements of materialist feminist theater ideology, but the radical approach was utilized more fully. This new addition to theatrical performance will hopefully pave the way for other female performers to examine the works of male playwrights, and the voices that they give their women, and to bring their views into a contemporary light. Conclusion Traditionally, when scholars look at a Beckett work, they view it through the lens of existential philosophy. This is a valid interpretation, as hopelessness, lack of an all-powerful deity, and the absurdity of existence all strike major thematic chords

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throughout the works. However, this viewpoint can be limiting. It does not take into account a modern interpretation of the text. Existential philosophies dominated midtwentieth century intellectual discussions, so viewing the theatrical work through just that lens is restrictive. It turns the work into a museum piece, suspended in time. It is important as modern artists to look at texts through the lens of the time in which it was written, but to also see it through the eyes of the present day. Though many women were given opportunities that were never available to them during the First and Second World Wars, these opportunities were taken away from them as soon as the men returned from the wars. When Beckett wrote Happy Days in 1961, he was writing a strong female voice at a time when women were claiming rights they had gained and since lost. He was writing about a woman who was in her fifties, anchored in an old world. A woman playing Winnie when the play was first written may remember the day when women were granted the right to vote. Many of the groundbreaking civil rights laws were not even passed until years after Happy Days was first performed. As a modern woman looking at this role, it is impossible to see it only through that lens. A woman today, even if she is playing the role ageappropriately, would not have been alive when women received the right to vote. My experience as a young woman also changes the performance of this character. Most of my life has been spent in what many consider a post-feminist era. I was not alive when almost all of the major women’s rights laws were passed, and I have no memory of actually fighting for these rights myself. I feel the repercussions and the effects of being part of a gender group that has been discriminated against, but I have never been

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an active participant in the struggle. Therefore, my performance of this role in 2012 is vastly different than a woman performing the role in 1961. The notable difference in a modern interpretation of this role is the consideration of the female voice as written by a male writer. Since 1961, a number of feminist theater practices were created. These theater practices have informed women’s performance, and they changed how I viewed the piece as well. Exploring a female voice that was actually written by a male playwright is an important facet. When a male is writing in the feminine voice, or a female is writing in the masculine voice, the text is opened up for interpretation of gender perspective. This concept is also a relatively new one, and would not have been as common a scholarly point of discussion in 1961 as it is in 2012. Therefore, exploring themes of femininity, the female desire to be heard, and other women’s issues is a vastly different process in a modern context than it would have been in the middle of the twentieth century. The major strides that women made when fighting towards gender equality, in a broad sense, stem from the desire to simply be heard. Women were voiceless in Western society, so they fought for the right to vote. Women were not getting paid the same wages as men and were not offered the same career opportunities, so they fought to be accepted in those male-dominated fields. In much the same way, Winnie fights to be heard. She tries, continually, to get the attention of the one person she cares most about in the world, and he could not even speak to her or listen to her when she asks. As a result, she uses the only weapon she feels that as a woman she has to gain a voice: her sexuality. Also, as a woman, Winnie feels that she has to put on a happy

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face and endure every struggle that comes her way. She cannot admit defeat so she lets her troubles bury her and sings all the while. Therefore, Winnie uses her sexuality to be heard, but also accepts her fate of being buried in the mound rather than accept failure. This thesis explored a feminist perspective of Happy Days¸ focusing specifically on the desperate desire for women to be heard in a patriarchal society, and the continual need to struggle to obtain happiness in a hopeless landscape. This end was achieved through a variety of means, and the performance set the play in a modern landscape, instead of a mid-twentieth century perspective. This created a new dramatic venue for Beckett’s ideas and brought the play to a new understanding. Women in Beckett’s works may be portrayed in a stereotypical light, but Beckett gives his women, particularly Winnie, a dynamic voice that cannot be bound by the performance of gender.

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Annotated Bibliography: Alvarez, A. Samuel Beckett. Trans. Frank Kermode. New York: Viking Press Inc., 1973. Print. This book is comprehensive biography of Samuel Beckett, with focus on his major works, including novels, plays, and shorter works. Aristotle. Poetics. Trans. Gerald F. Else. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press , 2008. Print. Aristotle’s famous essay in which he outlines what he believes to be the perfect structure for drama. He uses examples from a number of Greek Tragedies to make his point. In it, he discusses the importance of plot, structure, and character development in the creation of a play. This essay is the one of the cornerstones of text in theatrical evaluation, and most modern dramatic critique directly is influenced by this document as theater practitioners either mold to Aristotle’s form or intentionally try to break it. Aston, Elaine. Feminist Theater Practice: A Handbook. New York: Routledge, 1999. Print. This book aims to break down feminist performance in the form of an acting handbook specifically for feminist theater. Instead of breaking down acting techniques in traditional methods, this book aims to look for what is inherently feminist when it regards acting and performance. The book is divided into sections, which include: feminist directions, finding a body/voice, enter

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gender, cultural sniping, past/present tense, activating the feminist script, creating texts, re-figuring lives, and performing yourselves. Bair, Deirdre. Samuel Beckett: A Biography. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc., 1978. Print. This is one of the most detailed and controversial biographies of Samuel Beckett. It begins with the birth of Beckett, and continues until his death. The book is over 600 pages long, which makes it one of the most inclusive Beckett biographies in existence. Baker, Phil. Beckett and the Mythology of Psychoanalysis. New York: St. Martin's Press, Inc. , 1997. Print. This book is a collection of essays, but most prominently the essay about the “Talking Cure” should be of help. It examines how characters in Beckett plays feel the need to talk incessantly to cope with their problems, much like Winnie. Beckett, Samuel. Happy Days. New York: Grove Press , 1961. Print. The performance text. Bryden, Mary. Women in Samuel Beckett's Prose and Drama: Her Own Other. Lanham: Barnes and Noble Books, 1993. Print. This is a comprehensive study of women in Beckett’s works, starting with his early prose and ending with his dramas. It breaks apart his short stories and his plays in detail, citing the specific moments where Beckett references women and how he does so. It covers the changing views on women, beginning with

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tyrannical overbearing women to more dynamic women that are similar to their male counterparts. Case, Sue-Ellen. Feminism and Theater. New York: Palgrave MacMillian, 2008. Print. This book looks to find alternatives to the traditional masculine staging of theatrical works. It looks at the historical context of misogyny in the theater and the male dominated practice, and then touches on notable strides women made in the field. It includes major female pioneers in the field in acting and production, as well as touches on feminist ideologies in performance and female racial minority performance. Camus, Albert. The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays. Trans. Justin O'Brien. New York: Vintage Books, 1983. Print. This book contains Camus’ famous essay describing his existential philosophy through the argument of a suicide. This book is one of the cornerstones to existential philosophy, and one of the major influences on the absurdist dramatic form. De Beauvoir, Simone. The Second Sex. Ed. and trans. H.M. Parshley. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1953. Print. This book is a feminist existential examination. The book begins with a historical context for women and femininity in regards to existential philosophy, and explains history from French antiquity to the modern day.

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Then, the idea of woman and femininity is deconstructed, and new notions of progress are suggested from previously held notions. Dolan, Jill. The Feminist Spectator as Critic. Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press , 1988. Print. This book is one of the cornerstone documents for feminist theater and the presentation of the female in performance. The idea of feminist as spectator is introduced through the dominating male tradition of theatrical participants. Feminist writers are examined, and the question of whether or not feminist writings can be included in popular canon is discussed. Feminist ideologies and the desire of the female form and body are also explored, as well as major feminist schools of thought through performance. Esslin, Martin. The Theatre of the Absurd. New York: Vintage Books, 2001. Print. This book is the original sourcebook on absurdist drama. It is considered to be Esslin’s groundbreaking book that describes a number of mid-twentieth century playwrights and makes the argument that they are absurdist, or use their plays to advance the existential ideology. The book covers the background of a number of influential playwrights in the era, including Samuel Beckett, and also discusses common traits between the plays, including structure, content, and message. Farfan, Penny. Women, Modernism and Performance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004. Print.

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This book examines the “modern woman” in performance, starting with Hedda Gabler and Nora in A Doll’s House, and then examines modern women playing older characters such as Shakespearian females. This is a major shift in performance ideology having women perform strong woman roles, versus women performing weak women or men performing female roles in the theater. Gontarski, S.E., and Anthony Uhlmann, eds. Beckett after Beckett. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1996. Print This book is a collection of essays about Beckett and performances of his work since his death. As Beckett was very meticulous with his stage direction when he helped to direct his works, it is quite interesting to see what theater artists have done with the work since he has died and can no longer put his hands into every aspect of the performance. Harris, Geraldine. Staging Feminities: Performance and Performativity. New York: St. Martin's Press Inc., 1999. Print. This book examines how the female gender is performed through ideas of biology, gender stereotyping, and then intentionally breaking that gender stereotype. The book introduction covers the discussed gender theories in the book, as well as post-modern feminism. The rest of the book discusses different kinds of feminist performance, including masquerading, drag, mimicry, and political activism through the performance of the feminine.

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Jeffreys, comp. "The Garrick Theater, 1994 Footfalls, dir. Deborah Warner." NYU Classes. New York University, n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2012. .edu/classes/jeffreys/beckett/naughtybeckett/footfalls.htm>Website that contains a lawsuit against a production of a Beckett production sued by the Beckett estate. Explains how the Beckett Estate shut down the production or not complying with Beckett's explicit stage directions. Kalb, Jonathan. Beckett in Performance. Cambridge: Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge, 1989. Print. This is essentially an acting handbook for Beckett actors. A number of Beckett’s plays are deconstructed from an actor’s point of view rather than a scholar’s. There are also included a number of photographs as well as interviews with notable actors who performed in these famous roles, which will give a greater understanding of the actual performance of the piece rather than the academic information behind it. Knowlson, James. Damned to Fame. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996 . Print. A comprehensive biography by a close friend of Beckett’s: James Knowlson. The book follows Beckett’s life from his birth to his death, with specific focus on his years of artistic expression. His chapter on Happy Days and his life during that time is most pertinent for this paper in particular. Oppenheim, Lois, and Marius Buning, eds. Beckett On and On... Madison: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1996. Print. This book is contains a collection of essays that discuss Beckett on a number

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of levels, but primarily on gender. A number of Beckett works are examined through the lens of sex, masculinity, gender roles, and Irish speech patterns, which are all imperative to the cohesiveness of this study. There is also an essay on the post-modern world in regard to Beckett, which gives a gender neutral viewpoint on post-modernism and Beckett. The Van Slooten essay used comes from this anthology. Pountney, Rosemary. "Review: Happy days at the National Theatre." Rev. of Happy Days. Old Vic Theater, London. English. Florida State University , 1976. Web. 27 Oct. 2011. . This website hosts Rosemary Poutney’s review of the London performance of Happy Days in 1975. Sartre, Jean-Paul. Existentialism and Human Emotions . New York : Philosophical Library , 1957. Print. This book is Sartre’s manifesto on existential philosophies. Taubman, Howard. "Beckett's Happy Days." Rev. of Happy Days. Cherry Lane Theatre. The New York Times on the Web. The New York Times , 18 Sept. 1961. Web. 27 Oct. 2011. . This website hosts The New York Times’ review of the original production of Happy Days in 1961.

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Creative Supplementary Materials: The following sections are the creative materials that supplement the academic portion of this thesis. These supplementary materials demonstrate the creative process that occurred to mount the production itself. The following sections include production notes that were taken by myself during the rehearsal process, the rehearsal script, the program and flier, production photos, and a DVD copy of the final dress rehearsal.

Happy Days Rehearsal Notes: During any production, there are a number of steps that are taken to ensure that the final performance meets the highest standard attainable. Throughout the process, there are a number of run throughs of the script, and the director takes and gives notes to the actors. The following section of the thesis is dedicated to the notes that were taken by me for my character during the rehearsal process. Each set of notes taken are to help the actor process the information, and make the proper changes that are necessary. The following notes were taken primarily during the month of February, when most of the full run throughs of the show took place. The original notes were hand written in two separate notebooks, and have been retyped here to be included in the thesis materials. They are included in their original form, with misspellings and abbreviations to demonstrate how an actor’s notebook can look. Most of the notes come from the director, Arielle Giselle Rogers, while some come from my thesis advisor, Shelley Delaney, and others come from Laura Parrotti, who helped with my

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vocal training for the show. The purpose of including these notes is to further illuminate the work that went into the practical part of the production, more specifically the acting work that went into the process.

Rehearsal Notes Shelley Delaney (January)          Try to get Drew Richards Pick a date when you are an actor only, not actor/producer Women didn’t feel like they were being heard, voiceless in society Desperate to be heard o No one listens to you because you are a woman Women use their sexuality to be heard Look for the female voice (Laura Parrotti). Specify behavior around the gun. Look at the stakes of what it means to have a gun on stage. One can shoot oneself or Willie at any moment. Specify that decision. Really look at the stakes If there is a gun on stage, it has all the power. Issue with the pauses: right now they are taking all equal weight and time o There should be a different quality to the pauses, including:  Waiting for a response from Willie  Something that lands hard, and how long it takes Winnie to process that  Length of pauses when totally unsure of the next moment.  When one thought leads to another  Clarify, specify, elaborate.  When there is a change of subject  Stumble onto the change  Willfully change the subject because current topic too difficult. Playing with language. o Toy with meaninglessness of the language. When looking at the face, take an inventory of what’s left, don’t try to make it funny. The earth is there of course, it is eating you alive USE THE OPPERATIVE WORDS “Now is the time” should have quotes around it Slow down on sections with monosyllabic words Throw aways, like speed, are earned. o Slow down for simplicity, clarity, and weight.

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Directorial Idea: o Terror and shame around Milly. She needs to be absent of personal connections to keep her distance. Screams are either sitting on an impulse or stay disconnected to the action.

Rehearsal Notes Arielle Giselle Rogers (1/30/2012)           Intention will help with memory. Put lipstick on fully Email Shelley Observe pauses That day, what day: things have a live but I don’t. Things will be there but I won’t. Jealously for words and objects in that they are eternal. Practice of forgetting as a coping mechanism. Torture with parasol. What good is he to her = he wants to have sex with her. Winnie is mad at Willie/ Men in general, even though she wants Wille’s attention. Using sex in a different way to be heard. SEND JACOB SCHEDULES

Rehearsal Notes Arielle Giselle Rogers (2/1/2012)                 Breathe more! Hail Holy Light I used to pray (good) Facial tics on face- eliminate/ simplify. Pauses- arms, breasts, etc. Sustained moments, energy also must be sustained. Long pause before face, long pause so I can see face while sleeping. Beat work: o Can look at shirt and count o Look at words being said More cadence Da-misk = correct pronunciation. What are $1 words? What are $2 words? What are $100 words? Etc. THINGS HAVE A LIFE, NOT ME. Knife to gouge. BUILD. Sadness after sex- continue the thought. Let go of me = sudden violence. o The earth!! Amplified venting and anger. Makes you so mad! Explosion. I used to say, really remember. And now?

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  

He’s been gone MONTHS! Not oh hay hello! It’s a tirade, hidden under the other actions. Sexuality escaped, still there. Use as leverage in the end. The song: why THIS song?

Rehearsal Notes Arielle Giselle Rogers (2/2/2012)                        Look up- remember. Happy, is up, down is sad. Toodshed to pods. (Close eyes). May I see? Question. DROP THE CARD. How hitting Willie with parasol? Hog’s Setae is not a long pause. Golden moment lasting too long. Really toast. What is the personalization of that toast. May is never fade? PAUSES. Review emmet section. Pg 9 lines Skipped top of 12. He has been gone forever!!! Look at page 16 Moments of anger and suspicion. YOU CANNOT BELIEVE HE IS NOT RESPONDING. When you see him, he is coming to kill you! Give a hand- did Willie get you stuck because of him? End of that- “don’t look at me like that” (PANIC). What in the past 30 years brought us to this point Last moment needs to cost more Earth is PRESSING on you Look at the ending and seriously think about it.

Rehearsal Notes Arielle Giselle Rogers (2/6/2012)         Act 2. Wake up transition weird. Sound should startle you awake. Specify who Winnie is- beginning to know talking to you Align shoulders better. Look into bag. Give the bag space. Recognize pauses (sleep forever, wish I had it) Blind next (enunciate). Woe woe is me- actress it’s real!!! Can’t complain- MUSN’T COMPLAIN. Amp up. Vocal energy! The stage is HOT o Struggle to thing! Between lines.

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                                    

o Bring RANGE. Full expression of range. BLOW IT OUT. Poke him with the parasol. Head up on Old style. Don’t pop lips till lipstick done. Oh something lasting woe is a parenthetical. To performance. Ensign crimson (good). Though whose I cannot conceive (parenthetical) Language- rafters. BRAG! Sex! Taste poetry (flesh melts, etc.) All (page 4). Does it all?? Is a question. Smile- old style (smile off). Hair bit- too short pauses and beginning then too long. To golden (WORK THE TOAST!) PAUSES! Words fail (look at like it’s a cliché.) Hands too casual and delicate. Hands are dancers. Beautiful presentation always. Doubt, here, abouts (two fingers) You are going willie (test him) Life has taught me that… too. Lean back (remember that there is earth behind you) Have I put on flesh, I trust not. Charm the audience. ENERGYYY!!! Look at Willie on LIVE EMMET What kind of laugh (scan) Last time we laughed together (that will inform how you take that moment in) Severest woe- and now? o What do I do now? You are a hostess at a party. Trying to keep people happy. Discover paradise enow. QUOTE IT. Relish in the fact you’re smart Operative words are VERBS. One quick dip = oh so naughty. Down among the last rounds (slow down.) Personal relationships with the gun, something humanly specific. Gravity speech- much more beautiful and vulnerable. SOUL. HELD. BELEIFS. Like sharing a religion or some sort of credo, and someone smacking that down. Pop umbrella out at audience. Winnie is Rebecca. Pg 10 reason says- make reason a character. Give wright to the oath.

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                          

Aliveness in voice. Music box, time longer. Don’t squander words, berate yourself and BUILD that moment. So once hands need to have a reason for hands up. Hands that can DO SOMETHING! Specify voice for Shower, Cooker, Wife. Play with language at bottom of 11. Play with so much meaning lost “Feast on you” “But you can’t” The pause between the lines HAS to be there. o You can blame him there. Bell for sleep- hog’s setae. Things that didn’t resolve Hog’s setae. Hail Holy Light. May one? (ask permission) (VOCAL ENERGY) Use eyes to reference wilderness. Then, not. Conflicting ideas. Set that up vocally. Losing arms/ breasts- cost? What are the stakes? DESPERATLY calling Willie at the end of 13. The FACE is a discovery. The tongue, you admired. Up the anty, sexual. Discover the memory of Dolly. Really picture the doll when describing it. Weight of the words “wantonly cruel” Shower and Cooker. Free voice around DROP DEAD! Don’t be afraid to yell at them! Know each person who catches Milly. Violent with words. Break down the ending! Really play the hostess. Specific actions. Once more Willie (I know you are going to kill me but have the decency) Smile at curtain at Willie. When does voice crack, when does she linger on words. Using elements of Vocalization.

Rehearsal Notes Arielle Giselle Rogers (2/8/2012)          Checking teeth- don’t upstage face Discover reading of hairbrush Marvelous gift- Willie sleepy Blind next- upward inflection Wouldn’t miss it- use prop glasses No pain- amend (think of pain going through) Prayers perhaps- migraines do go!!! Don’t expect parasol Medicine- build that consideration

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Throw was decent Something lasting woe (specificity) Put on drawers- finish routine Wait longer on response Another happy day! My first ball! Emphasize ball Almost ginger = no pause Lean back on sex in toolshed. Build. Provided one takes pains flow Do you know its porn? Think about marshmellow Weigh sow v. hog Floats up blue – gossamer Taking hat off same as n word Some happy days = sex, others devotion. Know actions at the end! Keep working on toast Words fail- positive choice Hit end consonants (did you hear that?) Make positive choice- tease on page 6. Leave alone handkerchief. Doubt. Abouts? Mayhaps? Gesturing to lay down. In any case Triful Do something CHANGE!!!! Nails = naked When saying shower cooker story, must have been a man- and wife. Just upper body moves. Isolate better. Crick in neck. Don’t internalize the different woman. HAVE ATIONS! What is a hog? Unfinished business. Happy day at the end of the act has EXCLIMATION POINTS Weigh sing to pray Wait for pauses at the end of the act.

Rehearsal Notes Arielle Giselle Rogers (2/9/2012)       Run it once without taking the pauses Why does Winnie quote things? Look at page 7 Look at full idea of long sentences and look at punctuation at the end. Don’t look down. Was I loveable? Too causal.

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The gun- specify it, feel the weight. The tiniest thing effects Winnie Look at the parasol moments Moment to moment- looking at me through what claws. Realizing the power to DO SOMETHIN! Huge moment to happen, bring the inflection up on what claws! Shower- cooker- simplify. Rewrite and cross out things that don’t tell the direct storyline, and find out the things that will piss off Willie the most! HAPPY DAY! All have exclamation points! Strong intention or feeling needs to be there behind the throw away lines. Arms, breasts, Willie. Order of importance. Has a build. Let go of me! USE EXCLIMATIONS! LOOK AT THE ENDING. All says it all, all one can do, all different speeds. Directions. Look at the toolshed bit.

Voice Work Notes Laura Parrotti (2/10/2012)                      Fade out on lines, internalize. Not good. Guest was gone- faded. Use consonants more. Another HEAVENLY day. Marvelous gift. Not different. More frustrated? Throw away? Hog- hit the end consonants. What is the alternative/ other things like it” to differentiate. Struggle, maybe press more. Laban terms with voice. More of a struggle. Let in more to thoughts and feelings When something really triggers you, need to HEAR that. What can I do? Take voice up for false, more chest resonators when drops in. Something of this is BEING HEARD. No voice expressions. Real need. INTENSITY. Reveal the deeper things. Take mantras far to find their rhythms. Falsetto!!! Low. GOOD LORD! GOOD GOD! Make it big. Invest more in the language. Texture, pitch, loud, soft, stretch. Don’t lose intention. HOO-OOO!! Bigger. Not spontaneous enough. More in the now. To be spontaneous on breath means different breath.

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Stretching, 6 sided box. Breath has to be awake. In the script she is desperate.

Tutorial Notes Shelley Delaney (2/13/2012)       Copy absurdism in performance Anchored in real and unreal Expanding notion to entrapment Too real to be good Allow self to get out of pedestrian reality. Include the audience. o In what way are we here? o Greater audience than Willie o Winnie plays to a full house sometimes Porn- but then titalating. Vocal energy more o Volume. Work hard to get Willie to receive it Pick up cues with Willie Activate the space around you more. Use more of the body, clowning, fuller movements. Strong sense of specificity of the space. Gestures need to be simultaneous with the text Poems- stringer sense of different. Memorized in the 7th grade. Who speaks in the old style? o Rhetoric? Preachers? Etc. Highs higher and the lows lower. Entertain him, yourself, and the audience. Leaving the gun out is a much more immensely profound decision. Testing myself in the deepest possible way. Whatever it was you used to do to get attention in life, you still do. Process flame. Out to audience now down. Internal build of act 2 not as clear. Last human kind. Tidbits from Reynolds News- connect to earlier. What lengths to feel things?!

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Rehearsal Notes Arielle Giselle Rogers (2/13/2012)      Looking for me, caring for me (sexy) Bring in the sexy Ergo you ARE there Say rhymes with pray. All can say, all one can- build.

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My Willie (doing center). Float up- look up. Atmosphere. The face- hits in face. Tongue- admired. Sexy Earth, sky. PAINT. With the eyes. Stream of conscience. Not yet, not quite, not mine 3 things. How do you tell- ignore- scold? The wombs- different vocal choices. Get excited about Dolly. Don’t let it build. Discover day well advanced. Calling shower and cooker- they are separate ideas. Tell the story faster. Dim then gone- stupid. Narrating- tell the story to room of two year olds. But I MUST say more. I can’t anymore. Unexpected PLEASURE. How did I worship you Winnie get said. Win- get that off of Sean better.

Rehearsal Notes Arielle Giselle Rogers 2/15/2012               Poke above mound Sex rafters- simplify hands. Bring back physicality. Over porn- loving it in head, distain outward. 3 realms over repetition. Trifl. Not tri-full. Was I loveable? Dig at him more with We all know about that. Sucked up Amused by umbrella. Specify music box Don’t look down. Thoughts out. Shower and cooker? Put faces on them not just qualities. Help Willie in act 2 needs to drop in. Run- thru, assess the moments after.

Rehearsal Notes Arielle Giselle Rogers (2/16/2012)     Taking out the revolver and kiss it before the medicine. Hand visor thing, stop. To ask, porn. Have more fun with, can you hear me now?

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Long sentence, look at Gaze with compressed lips. Lean back hurts, earth too tight. Earth is tight… emmet! Still too soon for song- musical #! Specify gun- still needs higher stakes. Pull Have fun with the umbrella. Up on up. Full out play. BID me to put this down Take time on vow. Earth old extinguisher Don’t smash mirror Do something speech needs to build. Shower- would dig out with his hands. Willie- higher stakes about body Searching for the ten dollar word Clarify what is being said. Operative words- last monologue. Chest voice. Worst betrayal = better actions Put lipstick on with left hand Pole Reason gets a voice Clear dim gone- have feeling Shower/cooker second thought last time Willie is weary of hole because I am weary of mine Know when to give and pull back audience. Gun better, but still needs to be more specific.

Rehearsal Notes Arielle Giselle Rogers (2/18/2012)             Have the full energy of the line before you reach the punctuation Handkerchief- shove it all the way down. Don’t hold the gun directly on your eyeline Faster to realize Willie and the lipstick That is what I find so comforting Flesh melts, switching at find wonderful Gaze before- needs to be the same every time. Hamlet Skull- when quoting lines Speed up the dialog. Say trifle like truffle. Something something- searching Well I admit it is a teaser… make it more colorful

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You think the weight –needs energy throughout the line Make a show out of grabbing the gun You again needs to be a bigger accuse Float up speech- defend the argument Been caught on strange Do something speech- taking too many moments Shower/cooker- too many moments Strange speech- suicide note poem Sing? No. ask self and Willie. Second act- sit on the bottom of your voice more My Willie, needs to be lower and have chest power. Sunshade- lake-reeds- go to sleep!!! Call shower to the stand. Second shower delivery needs to be quicker. Let go and drop dead: always yell that. More comical screams. Reylonds News- spit that at him Are you coming to live on this side? Sing the last 8 count, then start song Final smile, needs to spread slowly and be empty. Empty eyes, empty brow.

Rehearsal Notes Arielle Giselle Rogers (2/21/2012)                    Heavenly day- heaven is in the sky. Second what- not working Woe woe – try something new Tease with within a toolshed. Orgasm with the rafters Say to self- operate My hair- upward inflection- hysteria One moment- them or it Tone- make it positive I beseech you- don’t stab! Toast- new choice- to a child. Compressed lips needs to be exaggerated. More playful with- can you hear me? Doubt, here- flourish. Emmet. Pat ground Curiosity- I say!- excitement TRIFLE!! Moody madness is the something something- Shakespeare! Paradise enow (SUPER ENUNCIATE!)

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No scary Winnie Gun upright, shoot into mouth Glasses come off as soon as they can Don’t rest parasol on body Reason says “cannot” good. Visible flesh Face out of music box Discover like a thrush Strange moment- curiosity What claws- 3 moments, not 7 Big brown grips- not as important What I dream- lighter? Vulnerable? Sing/pray- really TELL self that Looking- admire Call to Willie Act 2 My Willie is vocally right, now just et intention there Even if I puff them out- really ask. Search for Damask Sleep after reeds Inside the bag, outside the bag Bell hurts, don’t look. Narrative voice. Tell things to tiny babies. Optimistic, throw away the ends. Second Shower/Cooker Intro Strange scream Eyes wide, then look I worship you Winnie- mock him Have another go- MOCK! Love song, emphasize Last moment, FIGURE IT OUT Look at the script!

Rehearsal Notes Arielle Giselle Rogers (2/22/2012)         Don’t lose ensign crimson Charlie is dead! Fold handkerchief, precise, can’t see Orgasm on the line Flesh melts- softer Die- go away, tinge of Guilt from Willie My hair- HYSTERIA!!! Lean backs need a flourish

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Don’t smash the emmet! Play/clown with the object Laugh Hit irreverent What all is in that bag? Funny voice Take off the hat, young beautiful, etc. Hold umbrella out more. All 5 garbled. Earth covers breasts- moment Open box- get to open quicker, wind box 2 Strange speech- out DO SOMETHING (don’t anticipate) Hit diddies Open eyes! Groggy, close. Open My Willie!- drowning Don’t anticipate face Let go, really be real Call to Willie, patience Cling to the repetitions Allude Reynolds News Let Win startle you o He never says your name Fill self with the music before you sing Let the smile spread.

Rehearsal Notes Arielle Giselle Rogers (2/23/2012)                Winnie needs an up do Age lines Blind next, needs to be to the audience The handkerchief needs to be a ritual Dropped into voice more. Hair tie NOT ON WRIST Better orgasm Lion eyes, lemon mouth My hair! On the line Hat- put on, put off- my word! Golden you called it that day, comma, when the last guest… Don’t smash the bug! Exhaustive answer? Don’t anticipate sucked up I used to perspire freely

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Glass is the mirror My Willie! One moment Voice- shower Drop dead- annihilate Changing- be mean! Don’t look at me like that! Sing song slowly to live in the moment

Final Notes Arielle Giselle Rogers (2/25/2012)                 Check the props No hair tie One clean head turn Charlie Hunter- not obituary Speak before them or it Remove um’s Give time to golden Compress means flatten, lion/lemon Put on flesh- slowly Specify in hands Rest arm on hoist What claws- casual Shower/cooker- let audience have an opinion Present case about shower and cooker Screams need to be comical. Thinking of line, separate moments. GOOD LUCK ON OPENING!

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Happy Days Rehearsal Script: The following images are copies of the script that I used during rehearsal. My notes, highlights and other information are on the script. The original script could not be included in the thesis materials, as the paper that was used is not of the same calibre as the thesis paper, and the margins were incorrect. Therefore, the following pages include images of the script that have been resized to fit to a page.

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Happy Days Program and Event Flier: Below are images from the Happy Days program, which was passed out to audience members who attended the performance. The last image is the flier that was hung around the theater building on campus, advertising the show. Both the program and the event flier were created by myself.

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Happy Days
By Samuel Beckett An Honors Tutorial College Thesis Production

Feburary 26th, 27th and 28th Union Arts 8 pm

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Happy Days Production Photos: The following are production images, taken at the final dress rehearsal on Feburary 25, 2012.

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