One in this series which presents film and made-for-television adaptations of plays, live broadcasts, and documentaries about bringing plays to the stage. This program, hosted by Jeremy Irons, is the first installment in a project to film all of Irish playwright Samuel Beckett's stage work. It features documentary discussion of Beckett and his works, plus snippets of longer works and full versions of seven of his short plays that have been filmed for the project. Irons opens with a brief biography of Beckett. The first play, shown in its entirety, "Catastrophe," (directed by David Mamet and featuring Sir John Gielgud in his final screen performance) is about "theater as a metaphor for life" and the "parable of oppression and resistance." Afterward, Irons discusses the unique characters that Beckett created. Next, several notable directors that worked on the "Beckett on Film" project talk about the man: Anthony Minghella discusses how Beckett "annihilates fiction"; Conor McPherson talks about how he creates the "bare skeleton of the (stage) experience"; Atom Egoyan talks about the man's "economy of form"; and Damien O'Donnell talks about how Beckett is "deliberately obscure" in his writing. The next film adaptation is "Ohio Impromptu," starring Jeremy Irons in the film's only two roles -- a man who reads a book and his identical double who listens to him read it. Next, in "Come and Go," three women -- old friends seemingly -- sit in silence, only talking when one of the women leaves the room, and then to gossip. In "Not I," (directed by Neil Jordan) a mouth -- Julianne Moore's mouth to be exact -- performs a monologue. Next, avant-garde artist Damien Hirst directs "Breath," an eight-line play/45-second film with no characters, no dialogue, and no action. Then, Minghella talks about how he turned "Play" into a cinematic experience. Then "Play" is shown: a tongue-twister of a play that ends with "the boldest stage direction ever -- 'Repeat entire play.'" Next, Irons discusses Beckett's only piece of film work, "Film," starring Buster Keaton. The next adaptation is "Act Without Words II," a silent comedy that takes place on a strip of running film. The program ends with Beckett's final written work, "What Where," as a man and his recorded amplified voice controls the play's other two characters in this "purgatorial loop."

Cataloging of this program was made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.


  • DATE: September 15, 2002 Sunday 9:00 PM
  • RUNNING TIME: 1:26:46
  • COLOR/B&W: Color
  • CATALOG ID: T:76483
  • GENRE: Arts documentaries
  • SUBJECT HEADING: Biography
  • SERIES RUN: PBS - TV series, 2000-


    • Jack Venza … Executive Producer
    • Joan Egan … Executive Producer
    • Joe Mulholland … Executive Producer
    • Rod Stoneman … Executive Producer
    • Michael Colgan … Producer
    • Alan Moloney … Producer
    • Susan Mullen … Associate Producer
    • Steven Tabakin … Production (Misc.), Series Producer
    • Samuel Beckett … Writer
    • Jeremy Irons … Host
    • Atom Egoyan
    • Buster Keaton
    • Conor McPherson
    • Anthony Minghella
    • Damien O'Donnell
    • For "Catastrophe"
    • David Mamet … Director
    • Harold Pinter … Cast
    • Rebecca Pidgeon … Cast
    • John Gielgud … Cast
    • For "Ohio Impromptu"
    • Charles Sturridge … Director
    • Jeremy Irons … Cast
    • For "Play"
    • Anthony Minghella … Director
    • Alan Rickman … Cast
    • Kristin Scott Thomas … Cast
    • Juleit Stevenson … Cast
    • For "Breath"
    • Damien Hirst … Director
    • Keith Allen … Cast
    • For "Come and Go"
    • John Crowley … Director
    • Paola Dionisottti … Cast
    • Anna Massey … Cast
    • Sian Phillips … Cast
    • For "Act Without Words 2"
    • Enda Hughes … Director
    • Marcello Magni … Cast
    • Pat Kinevane … Cast
    • For "What Where"
    • Damien O'Donnell … Director
    • Sean McGinley … Cast
    • Gary Lewis … Cast