I am Eleanor, and I am the creator of Beckett Beyond Issue 11 – Words vs Music: A Beckettian Concert. Initially, I wanted to create my zine about Beckett’s radio plays. However, as I began researching, I became intrigued more specifically in Beckett’s relationship with music, both in terms of how music was used within his radio plays and the numerous anecdotal references to him “conducting” his actors, treating his play texts like musical scores. I have a background in Classical music so was inspired to create something that could explore a more literal connection between words and music in Beckett’s work. The zine format allowed me to think more creatively about how I could present but also carry out my research. In class, we discussed the possibility of including QR codes in the zine. This inspired me to experiment with music and audio myself as a method of interrogating Beckett’s own methodologies, printing QR codes in my final zine to allow my readers to listen to my short compositions.
The Samuel Beckett Symphony Orchestra
My first idea was to compose using Beckett’s text, creating a system for transposing his words into notes, exploring the musicality of Happy Days. It was an exciting process as I had no idea what the end result would sound like. I also worked with Not I, re-working and performing the text myself as a means of interrogating the approach Beckett took when first rehearsing the play with Billie Whitelaw. It was fascinating for me to try and perform text in this mechanical style. I decided to include audio of my rehearsals with a metronome in the final zine alongside the finished piece, in keeping with Beckett’s aesthetic of failure.
Eleanor testing Beckett’s Play in virtual reality with V-SENSE's artistic director Néill O’Dwyer
As I came to create my final zine, I was looking for a way to tie everything together. In the end, it was only as I started placing my project on the A5 pages that I realized how like a concert program it looked. Thus, the idea for a Beckettian concert was born. Overall, the interdisciplinary approach of my project really helped me to lift Beckett’s words off the page and gave me a new appreciation for him as a truly intermedial artist. I hope my zine will allow my readers/listeners to approach Beckett’s work in a new light and perhaps inspire scholars and practitioners alike in the future. Who knows, maybe one day a Beckettian symphony will be performed live!