Krapp's Last Tape
Author: Samuel Beckett
Director & Performer: Gjorgji Jolevski
Festivals & tours:
June 2021 - International Monodrama Festival-Bitola
About the play
Krapp’s Last Tape by Beckett is a dramatic piece written in English in 1958, inspired by the voice of Irish actor Patrick Magee, who will then have the privilege of playing the lead role in October of that year on the stage of the Royal Court "in London.
Donald Davis, Martin Held, Albert Finney, Pierre Schabert, Rick Clutchy, Ljuba Tadic, John Hart, Harold Pinter, Robert Wilson, Brian Denehi, Michael Gambon, are just a few of the plethora of great actors who have played the role of Krapp for seven decades.
The text with its precise stage instructions, and minimalist mise-en-scène, is a real challenge for the actor. It is in this narrow maneuvering space that the subtle nuances in presenting acting mastery can be discovered.
This text has not been staged on a professional stage in Macedonia so far, and Beckett's play appears in the Macedonian National Theater for the first time in three decades, when in 1991 the play “eEndgame” was staged.
Krapp’s Last Tape is a play about a lonely man, isolated from the world, who listens to old recorded tapes on his 69th birthday.
One recording has a special meaning for him, the one in Box three – spool five! It presents him, a middle-aged Krapp thirty years earlier, on his 39th birthday. He is now a distant character, recalling an even more distant past when he was in his twenties, about key events in his life, about lost love, about his mother's death, about his failed career. His memory is shaken by the passing of time and his attitude towards events is ambivalent. This play is a precise study of entropy, of aging, of the complex relationship with technology, about the problem of the individual to build a strong personal identity under the unstoppable flow of time and the limitations that life itself confronts us with.
In specific circumstances, amid the threat of a pandemic, forced isolation and virtual connectivity, it is worth reconsidering several aspects of our relationship with the world, the mechanisms of memory, and our complex relationship with technology.
Therefore, in spite of everything, following the consistently precise stage instructions that are an integral part of Beckett's dramatic text, now with a new translation from English into Macedonian, this theater project on the small stage of the Macedonian National Theater in Skopje, produced, directed and palyed by Gjorgji Jolevski, realized with a small but selected team of professionals, is indeed a significant undertaking.
Skopje, 25. 12 .2020
Director and Actor
Krapp’s Last Tape was written after World War II, after the horror, posing the key human dilemmas: How far can human cruelty go? What is the meaning of life? Is it worth living in a world like this? Do we have the will to live? Questions that are characteristic of existentialism, of which, in a way, Beckett also belongs. In all his works he deals with the individual who hardly and reluctantly accepts the world in which he lives, a world of torment, difficult, meaningless to absurd. Time does not pass and it throws him into despair, darkness and gloom become his friends, company with which he feels most comfortable, but also with a constant dilemma whether to continue living or not. In Beckett's characters you can also recognize Dostoevsky's Raskolnikov, Shakespeare's Hamlet, Kafka’s Jozef K. ... Characters who have similar, if not the same dilemmas as Beckett's Krapp.
On the other hand, the story of the play itself, written in fragmentary dramatic, far ahead of the postmodern drama, is a very warm love story of a lonely old man, deaf, half-blind and suffering of dementia, who is in constant dialogue with himself, through the tape recordings that are evidence of its existence. He needs to feel, to remember love and the loved one, to find the meaning of his existence, it is written as an audio recording of "Box 3, Spool 5". There is his life, there is his love, there is everything, while he lives the nothingness.
The play is written as a piece of music, a musical score. Like a symphony. You simply can not cut a single word, nor add, of course. One should not skip a pause, nor act contrary to Beckett’s suggestions because it will no longer be that play, it will not be Beckett’s. The beauty and the joy, but also the difficulty in this process was the unraveling of the puzzles that the author sets throughout the piece. Discovering what’s hidden spaces that are invisible. Beckett does not offer solutions, but acts through ambiguities and leads you to paths that you never even dreamed that existed before. Just like with Shakespeare's verses. The narrower the frame of action, the greater the freedom of creation because you are confident in the path. These two and a half months have been a pleasure to wander through the darkness, but constantly guided by the light.
The outbreak of the pandemic, on the one hand, stopped the preparation for the beginning of the planned realization of the play, but on the other hand it turned out to be a prediction, because Krapp, the protagonist, is a man who in a kind of self-isolation for 40 years, refusing to live in the world as it is: "Everything there, everything on this old muckball ... Let that go!"
About Samuel Beckett
Samuel Beckett (1906-1989) is undoubtedly one of the most important writers of the 20th century. Although he showed a serious authorial approach very early on, he gained worldwide fame only in 1953, after the premiere of the renowned play "Waiting for Godot" in the small "Babylon" theater in Paris. The novel "The Unnamable", the last of his first trilogy, is considered by many the most radical novel of the era, a paradigm of late modernity. Beckett was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1969, but perhaps one of the greatest confirmation for his oeuvre is the great reputation he enjoys and the respect he receives from critics, but also from big names in literature such as Koetzee, Pinter, Auster, Bernhardt and many others, such as the philosophers Adorno, Derrida, Deleuze, Badiou, Zizek.