Actor Puts on Show Remembering Samuel Beckett

Bud Thorpe, one of the last actors still alive to have performed under the direction of  playwright Samuel Beckett, will speak out about how the Nobel Prize laureate shaped both his work and his life in the world premiere of his show “One of the Damned Few.”

The performance will take place January 16 and 17 at 7 p.m. and January 18 at 2 p.m. in Nick Chapel of Yale’s Trumbull College, 241 Elm St. It is sponsored by the World Performance Project at Yale (WPP), the Department of Theater Studies at Yale and Trumbull College.

“One of the Damned Few” is free and open to the public, but reservations must be made in advance. For more information, log onto http://wpp.research.yale.edu/ or call (203) 432-0668. Arrive at the York Street gate of Trumbull College no later than 6:45 p.m. for the Friday and Saturday performances and 1:45 p.m. for the matinee on Sunday.

Designed as an educational outreach program for college and university students, the one-act play was created with the permission of the Samuel Beckett Estate and the encouragement of James Knowlson, Beckett’s “sole authorized biographer” (in “Damned to Fame,” 1996) and the founder of the Beckett Archive, now the Beckett International Foundation, at the University of Reading.

Thorpe presents the words, work, and world of Beckett, considered one of the most important playwrights of the 20th century. He offers firsthand accounts of Beckett in rehearsal, and describes the playwright’s sense of fun, his zest, his encouragement of students, his receptiveness and musicality, and his evolving revisions of his own plays “Endgame” and “Waiting for Godot.” He also provides a glimpse of Beckett’s own portrayal of the character Nell in an “Endgame” rehearsal.

“One of the Damned Few” is enhanced by numerous photographs, half of which have never before been seen publicly. Permission to use most of these images has been granted by photographers in England, Italy, Germany, Australia, France, and the U.S. exclusively for this presentation.

“One of the Damned Few” runs just over an hour with no intermission.

Thorpe teaches “integrated arts classes,” combining history and theatrical scenic design, at the Theatre Arts Production Company (TAPco.), also known as a New York City public school in the Bronx, where he is director of theater and has taught for the past 10 years.

Beckett himself cast Thorpe as Clov in “Endgame” in Berlin in 1978 in a San Quentin Drama Workshop production, and their artistic collaboration continued into the late 1980s. Notably, the playwright directed Thorpe as Vladimir in a 1984 world tour of three of his plays. Thorpe can be seen in the role of Clov in “Endgame” and Vladimir in “Waiting for Godot” in the landmark PBS video series “Beckett Directs Beckett.”

The co-creator and director of “One of the Damned Few,” Toni Dorfman, has worked with Thorpe for two decades. While they have collaborated most often on Beckett’s plays, they also partnered on the New York premiere of Robert Clyman’s “The Hill-Matheson Affair,” and on the New York revival of Eugene O’Neill’s “The Straw.” She and Thorpe collaborated in 2000 on a Yale student production of “Waiting for Godot,” which was revived almost immediately in the New Haven International Festival of Arts and Ideas, playing to sold-out houses. That production was Dorfman’s Yale directorial debut. She is the director of undergraduate studies in theater at Yale, where she teaches acting, directing, and playwriting, and where she co-founded the annual Yale Playwrights Festival in 2003.

About the World Performance Project

The interdisciplinary WPP promotes programs in performance studies at Yale, drawing from the arts, humanities, and human sciences (including theater, drama, dance, visual arts, speech, linguistics, anthropology and sociology). “Performance studies” encompasses cultural performances of all kinds, from theatrical presentations to rites of passage, and expands its frontiers anywhere significant performances are likely to take place, from Yorubaland to Disneyland.

WPP presents performances, workshops, and lectures by artists and scholars working in dance, theater, music, performance art and cultural performance, and collaborates with departments and programs throughout the University that seek to enhance their curriculum through live performance.

Affiliated with the Yale College Theater Studies Program and the Whitney Humanities Center, WPP is supported through funding provided by the Distinguished Achievement Award granted to Joseph Roach, the Sterling Professor of Theater, by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

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Media Contact

Dorie Baker: dorie.baker@yale.edu, 203-432-1345