Happy Days by Samuel Beckett
(Princeton, NJ) Princeton University senior Becca Foresman, one of the mainstays of the Princeton theatrical community over the past four years, stars in a senior creative thesis production of Samuel Beckett's classic Happy Days, opening Friday, October 23 at 8:00 p.m. in the Marie and Edward Matthews '53 Acting Studio at the Lewis Center at 185 Nassau Street. Directed by Program faculty member Tim Vasen, Happy Day features Foresman as Winnie, an eternal optimist who, though buried up to her waist in sand and rubble, faces her harsh existence with an enduring cheerfulness and endless chatter. Handbag at her side and husband Willie (Zack Wieder '10) nearby, she never allows a day to pass without looking her best and hoping for better.
Foresman, a French major and Certificate student in the Program in Theater as well as in Creative Writing, spent the summer conducting research on Beckett in Dublin and Paris, examining the performative implications of Beckett's bilingualism. (Born in Ireland, Beckett spent most of his adult life in France, composing sometimes first in English and other times first in French.) She also took four weeks of clowning classes at L'École Philippe Gaulier, exploring the raw, vulnerable absurdity and intricate comedic timing demanded by Beckett's work. She had the opportunity to interview actors about their experience of performing Beckett's plays and, while in Ireland, to eavesdrop on a variety of Irish accents in preparation for her dialect work as an Irish Winnie.
When asked about her work on the play, Foresman commented, "Happy Days is particularly compelling and provocative because, while grappling with the disheartening absurdity of our existence, Beckett resists one-dimensional gravitas: he illuminates the humor of our situation. His brutal poeticism is punctuated, humanized, and rendered more intricate by a continual chuckle. I live by the idea that we must laugh to go on. Nevertheless, rehearsing the part of Winnie is a plunge into bare existence for an actor. Faced with dense pages of text fractured by ellipses, dashes, scripted pauses, and rapid shifts in logic, I nonetheless approach Beckett's work with the same trust as I do Shakespeare's classic verse: everything begins and ends with the words on the page. In following Beckett's seemingly rigid choreography of speech and movement, I find that he has handed me a roadmap: it is my task to follow the trail, but also mine to navigate the immense range of expression and nuanced interpretation of his words, to excavate the treasure trove of unanswerable yet endlessly explorable questions he has buried in his text."
Performances of Happy Days are Friday and Saturday October 23- 24 and Wednesday through Friday, October 28 - 30. All performances are at 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $10 for the public and $8 for students. For advance tickets, please call University Ticketing 609.258.9220.
The Lewis Center for the Arts is part of a major initiative announced by President Shirley M. Tilghman in 2006 to fully embrace the arts as an essential part of the educational experience for all who study and teach at Princeton University. The Lewis Center for the Arts will have a significant impact on the University and the larger community it serves. The public is welcomed to a full range of lectures, exhibitions, concerts and performances at the Center. Many of the Center’s events are free or charge a nominal admission fee.