Samuel Beckett ---- Krapp ’s Last Tape meaning about lives. 9953006 BOBO. catalogue. About Samuel Beckett Introduction Analysis Comment Conclusion reference resources. About Samuel Beckett.
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Samuel Beckett was born on Good Friday, April 13, 1906, near Dublin, Ireland. Raised in a middle class, Protestant home, the son of a quantity surveyor and a nurse, he was sent off at the age of 14 to attend the same school which Oscar Wilde had attended. Looking back on his childhood, he once remarked, "I had little talent for happiness."
Beckett was consistent in his loneliness. The unhappy boy soon grew into an unhappy young man, often so depressed that he stayed in bed until mid afternoon. He was difficult to engage in any lengthy conversation--it took hours and lots of drinks to warm him up--but the women could not resist him. The lonely young poet, however, would not allow anyone to penetrate his solitude. He once remarked, after rejecting advances from James Joyce's daughter, that he was dead and had no feelings that were human.
Beckett made his way through Ireland, France, England, and Germany, all the while writing poems and stories and doing odd jobs to get by. In the course of his journies, he no doubt came into contact with many tramps and wanderers, and these aquaintances would later translate into some of his finest characters. Whenever he happened to pass through Paris, he would call on Joyce, and they would have long visits, although it was rumored that they mostly sit in silence, both suffused with sadness.
During World War II, Beckett stayed in Paris--even after it had become occupied by the Germans. He joined the underground movement and fought for the resistance until 1942 when several members of his group were arrested and he was forced to flee with his French-born wife to the unoccupied zone. In 1945, after it had been liberated from the Germans, he returned to Paris and began his most prolific period as a writer. In the five years that followed, he wrote Eleutheria, Waiting for Godot, Endgame, the novels Malloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable, and Mercier et Camier, two books of short stories, and a book of criticism.
Samuel Beckett's first play, Eleutheria, mirrors his own search for freedom, revolving around a young man's efforts to cut himself loose from his family and social obligations. His first real triumph, however, came on January 5, 1953, when Waiting for Godot premiered at the Théâtre de Babylone. In spite of some expectations to the contrary, the strange little play in which "nothing happens" became an instant success, running for four hundred performances at the Théâtre de Babylone and enjoying the critical praise of dramatists as diverse as Tennessee Williams, Jean Anouilh, Thornton Wilder, and William Saroyan who remarked, "It will make it easier for me and everyone else to write freely in the theatre."
Perhaps the most famous production of Waiting for Godot, however, took place in 1957 when a company of actors from the San Francisco Actor's Workshop presented the play at the San Quentin penitentiary for an audience of over fourteen hundred convicts. Surprisingly, the production was a great success. The prisoners understood as well as Vladimir and Estragon that life means waiting, killing time and clinging to the hope that relief may be just around the corner. If not today, then perhaps tomorrow.
Beckett secured his position as a master dramatist on April 3, 1957 when his second masterpiece, Endgame, premiered (in French) at the Royal Court Theatre in London. Although English was his native language, all of Beckett's major works were originally written in French--a curious phenomenon since Beckett's mother tongue was the accepted international language of the twentieth century. Apparently, however, he wanted the discipline and economy of expression that an acquired language would force upon on him.
Beckett's dramatic works do not rely on the traditional elements of drama. He trades in plot, characterization, and final solution, which had hitherto been the hallmarks of drama, for a series of concrete stage images. Language is useless, for he creates a mythical universe peopled by lonely creatures who struggle vainly to express the unexpressable. His characters exist in a terrible dreamlike vacuum, overcome by an overwhelming sense of bewilderment and grief, grotesquely attempting some form of communication, then crawling on, endlessly.
Beckett was the first of the absurdists to win international fame. His works have been translated into over twenty languages. In 1969 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. He continued to write until his death in 1989, but the task grew more and more difficult with each work until, in the end, he said that each word seemed to him "an unnecessary stain on silence and nothingness."
Krapp’s Last Tape(1958)represents two major changes in the formal evolution of Beckett’s plays. It is the first embodiment of the isolated person and mind in a new form of monodrama: one character enacting a kind of dialogue between his old and younger selves. For me, I think it is a dramatic writing. Because the actors need to have the audiences feel highest emotions. So, the audience will feel what Krapp’s feeling. And it is the first use of the tape-recorder as the structural pivot of the play.
The play is written for one actor, but there are two voices: Krapp-now and Krapp-then, who criticizes a still younger Krapp’s self-recording. The first tape introduces ahigh-toned ‘retrospect’: the year that is gone recorded by Krapp on his thirty-ninth birthday. The rest of the tape is organized around the three significant memories—or’moments’—which were cryptically announced by Krapp in the titles read from the ledger: the black ball story commemorating his mother’s death; his new vision in the storm on the night of a ‘memorable equinox’; and ‘farewell to love’ presented as a gentle but obsessive love scene.
‘Unlike other Beckett stage characters, Krapp is rooted in a familiar world whose every detail is realistically plausible’ (Ruby Cohn, Back to Beckett, 167) The situation invites dramatic treatment: an old man reviews his life, ponders the decisions he once made and assesses his present predicament. The means of review is a tape recorder, and if the setting “in the future” (CSPL, 55) seems odd, but we quickly realize that Krapp in 1958 could not be made to listen to tapes from a time when such recording materials were not available.
When I look at the script, I see not only an actor with a recording, but a real old man reviews his past emotionally. We see a short-sighted old man, who is bored, frustrated, cracked of voice and clownishly possessed of an autoerotic passion for bananas. As Andrew K. Kennedy remarks: ’It is like seeing a face endlessly reflected between two mirrors.’ (Andrew K. Kennedy, Samuel Beckett, 69) It said that we can see our heart inside. If we know who we are, we can make a self-examination and try to compensate for our mistakes in our mind.
This final stage direction --- ‘The tape runs on in silence’--- is crucial. The archive has become silent but its potential for activation, like the potential for all memory to return, remains. I think it is the most important point in the end of the drama. The last tape runs ultimately and silently just like our lives. Time runs fast and when we finally find the truth, it’s often too late to do what we think valuable to do in our lifetimes. When Krapp listens to the first tape to the lat tape, he runs through all his life
And the truth is we can’t do anything to trace back. It is sad for me because actually I realize that people are fragile. We can’t change or figure out who we are in the future. But we still have to live. If we don’t have some targets to do, we may feel what Krapp experiences in the script. To find regrets, sorrows, pains and other sorrowful things, Krapp gives the audiences a lesson.
About the performance, some people think it’s a short and easy production. Beckett has many small productions, like Endgame, Happy Days and so on. Every production has their main idea to tell the audience. Like Happy Days, the main idea is that we people should think positively because our lives are so boring to do lots of things. So the actress gives the audience the joyful feelings when doing regular things. It shows that we people need to live happily. Although the sands cover the actress, she still has a positive attitude. So, I think it is a kind of comedy but mix with some of sorrow.
‘People will say: good gracious, there is blood circulating in the man’s veins after all, one would never have believed it; he must be getting old.’ (quoted in Knowlson: 399) Actually Beckett writes parts of himself in this character and it makes the character become a real person. Samuel Beckett uses the recording to tell the whole story of Krapp, even his family and lover when he was young.
Many books or comments of this production said that it’s a small production. But for me, I think the Krapp’s Last Tape not only a small production but also has deepest meanings in it. It talks about our human beings’ lives. How to make you have a chance to become better and to refine yourself? It depends on you could grow through the faults, mistakes even lies. If you conquer these terrible things, you would know what is valuable in your lifetime. So, I think the production has more meanings than its facial performance.
Besides, I also think it is an artistic production. Apart from other scripts, Krapp’s Last Tape gives the audiences to think some philosophical problems. When I read the script, my mind keeps thinking and thinking. Why we people live? How can we have no regrets in our lives? And what is the goal in my life? There are lots of questions Beckett gives to the readers and audiences. Through the production, we can not only see a brilliant actor’s story but also we can realize what we want in our lives. I think the meaning in this drama is beyond most of productions nowadays.
Life is acting, acting is life. We people use art to make us perfect and flawless. The art can help us to make a self-examination. So I think it shows that we can use drama to let us understand what we really want and who we really are. Just like the main character Krapp, he uses tapes to let himself have new thoughts in his mind. The actor uses tapes and few elements to finish the drama. I think it’s much more real. It is much like our dairy lives. So I think the “Krapp’s last Tape” can represent the true meanings of our lives, not just a show.
Like the writer Oscar Wilde, he has a book named “the Picture of Dorian Gray”. The novel talks about the relation between art and life. Wilde thinks that art is the most precious thing in the world, and it can help lives more valuable and worthy. Drama can purify our human minds and bodies, just like what Krapp’s Last Tape gives to me. Becase of these points, I would like to say that Krapp’s Last Tape is not only a small production, but it remains lots of knowledge to let us think. The profundity of this script and the performance are great and full of aesthetic materials in the show. It is not just a performance, it’s our lives!