This new production reunites the renowned Canadian Beckett director Jennifer Tarver with Dáirine Ní Mheadhra & John Hess (music direction), and showcases a dynamic Canadian cast comprised of actors Laura Condlln, Michal Grzejszczak, Tom Rooney, and Sofia Tomic, sharing the stage with soprano Shannon Mercer and trumpet player Michael Fedyshyn. Queen of Puddings brings their signature contemporary twist to this invigorating evening of music, theatre, and Irish madness.
I had the chance to pose a few questions to artistic director Dáirine Ní Mheadhra. Here is our exchange...
HM: Once you had decided on Beckett for this year's production, how did you narrow down the featured plays in Beckett: Feck it!?
DNM: We wanted to do shorter plays of Beckett, as any of the long ones would be a whole evening in themselves and we wanted to add music to the show so that wasn’t possible. Our choices were made from plays John Hess (my Co-Artistic Director) and I had seen over the years, along with talking to Jennifer Tarver [director].
HM: In the video you discuss your choice of music for this production. Was the fact that Beckett was 'obsessed' with classical music part of the reason in your choice of contemporary composers?
DNM: Classical music was a constant and important ingredient in Beckett’s life and he himself was a very good pianist. Music had always been for him the art form that came closest to pure spirit. In shaping his plays he drew on his knowledge of musical structures and terminology, repetition and repetition with variation, counterpoint, and changes of key, rhythm, tempo, and pitch.
HM: Could you please discuss the cast involved in this production and how you combine the actors with a soprano and a trumpet player?
DNM: Jennifer [Tarver] chose the actors and John and I chose the singer and trumpeter. The music in the show happens in juxtaposition to the plays, not together, so it was easy to incorporate the cast. Ultimately the show was conceived because I was very homesick for Ireland and Beckett’s Irish humour came into my head and that was followed with thinking how Irishness was manifest in Irish contemporary music and then I thought about putting the two things together, as we don’t tend to think of Beckett as Irish given that he has such an international reach.
HM: Lastly, has anything like this been done with Beckett's short plays here in Canada or even in Ireland, that you know of?
DNM: As far as I know, nothing like this has been done either here or in Ireland.
Beckett: Feck It! runs at the Berkeley Street Theatre Downstairs from February 17th to the 25th. Most performances are selling out! You can get ticketing info or order tickets online at www.canadianstage.com