The play we are going to speak about in this essay is called Not I, written in 1972. Its author Samuel Beckett has described this play as the action of the moving mouth in the darkness of the rest of the stage. This play is concerned being the part of the author’s art that is connected with the late period of his activity. Moreover, if analyzing Krapp’s Last Tape, we can notice that most of Beckett’s works of the late period of activity are connected with the researching of memory.
Mostly these memories are shown through the prism of the past events that are transmitted into the present time in silence and darkness. This could be done to achieve certain level of concentration. Such plays also concern the topic of self-confidence and place in life. The plot of the play usually contains the voice that comes from the outside or through the comments in the silence (Not I).
Not I is a short dramatic monologue, and its premiere took place at the “Samuel Beckett Festival” by the Repertory Theater in New York. First time this play was directed by Alan Schneider.
The action of the Not I takes place in a specific place that is lighted only by a single light. It is important to mention that this light concentrates on the mouth of the actress on almost eight feet above the stage. Other elements of the play are presented in the dark space of stage. One could notice the figure of the Auditor, who makes four attempts of helpless compassion. This action appears in times, when Mouth keeps silence and listens to the voice from the outside.
Mouth tells us a story presented by the huge amount of different sentences in a rather fast pace. Through this story we find the information about the woman of about seventy years old who was left by her parents after birth. That is the reason of the absence of love and understanding in her life. Moreover, most of her life experience has mechanical character. Also all this situations, happened in her early childhood, have caused huge traumatic experience as the final result.
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This woman has been virtually mute from the early years of her life. Sometimes the occasional progress happens. One of such situations is demonstrated by Beckett to illustrate the main sense of the play. Her silent hero shows us the importance of the thought itself. It might be significant even without becoming the idea of the entire society and hearing on every corner. Truth could be silent.
There are four situations described in the play. Each of them (lying face down in the grass, in supermarket, on a mound in Croker’s Acre and at court) is connected with specific experience that makes this woman begin to talk. This event takes place in April. Probably this time of the year has some special meaning to the woman.
The woman has spent a lot of time in researching the reasons of her life circumstances. She has found that her paralyzing disease may be God’s punishment for her actions. However, she underlines that she does not feel any pain and does not suffer from this disease. Nevertheless, she notices that there are no grounds to be punished so severe. Moreover, she agrees that God does not need any grounds for such kind of actions. She feels the power that leads her over her life, and she actually believes that she needs to say something very important. She is not able to say exactly what she is going to say, but points out that long lasting research may give the answer to the question of her guilty and God’s punishment. Woman has a specific light in her head, which interrupts her thoughts and becomes more intensive.
This character of the presentation of ideas is rather common in Beckett’s works. His works demonstrate similar techniques in the expression of the main idea through the entire play.
It is interesting to reflect on the idea of the play title. Actually, it comes from the attitude of the woman to the events in her life. She always underlines that everything in the surrounding happens not to her.
The Mouth has the central position in the play. All the attention of the audience is concentrated on it. The main aim of the author is to play on nerves of the audience, but not to influence intellectual activity. The woman, described in the play, does not seem to be a concrete personage. It is more likely to speak about the image of hundreds of similar women with close destinies and stories. It is appropriate to view any woman of certain period of time. Needless to say, she is just a part of the stage, and the main part is plaid by the Mouth.
Beckett underlines that the Mouth should play role of the organ of emission without intellect. That is why it serves for the transition of the information. What is more, the visual image of the Mouth was proposed by The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist.
There is one more actor of this play that we need to pay extra attention. We are speaking about the Auditor. Usually, this role is played by the male. However, there are no any directions of the author concerning the gender of the Auditor. Usually, you may notice him at the left side of the stage. Beckett has faced certain problems with place that would be excellent for this actor. Later, the author allows the actor to determine suitable place on the stage up to his own opinion.
Undoubtedly, the concrete situation needs the specific character of the play. Its role is determined to every new play that is performed for the audience. Beckett notices that the position of the Auditor is rather difficult to determine because of the light and shadow balance. Moreover, he underlines that play needs this character, but he could make it even without the Auditor. The function of this character has never seemed effective to Beckett. In case of any mistakes in interpretation of this character, Beckett used to speak about an error of the creative imagination.
It is worth to underline that actual image of the Auditor is used for the play Not I to point out the necessity of the intense listener. This is the figure that needs to underline the plot of the story and share it with the audience. This image is rather often used in the art of that period. Moreover, the position of the Auditor is not absolutely clear, his role is abstract. Furthermore, even Beckett does not give the correct answer to the question concerning the Auditor. That is why we could consider him to be either guardian angel or the angel of death.
This play has several significant productions. One of them we are going to discuss in this essay. We need to compare the vision of Beckett on the plot of the story with the vision of Neil Jordan, who created one of the most well-known productions of this play in 2000. Moreover, it is not just the production; it is a movie created, on the ground of the story mentioned above. Nail Jordan was the director of this film produced by Blue Angel Films.
That is actually a unique film- based installation that was created under the control of Neil Jordan, with the participation of one of the most popular American actresses Julianne Moore. One point of view in its favour is that the main idea stays without changes, and that is why we can see similar picture of the action in the film. We could notice the actress sitting on the stage, and only her mouth is visible for the audience. The mouth plays the main role in this action. Therefore, we here a long lasting monologue, delivered by the mouth. This monologue seems to be the powerful stream of ideas and consciousness, experienced by the actress. The whole atmosphere of the play is taken into account by Jordan. That is the reason of the presence of the mouth in the total darkness of the stage. This scene could be rather terrifying, if taking into account the manner of thoughts interpretation of the mouth.
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Neil Jordan filmed his interpretation of the play of Beckett, and it is about thirteen minutes long. The main action is based on the paying attention to the mouth from different sides and angles, in order to get the feeling of total presence. This gives the audience more powerful connection to the situation that takes place in the installation of the play. However, Jordan has individual vision of the play presented by Beckett. He understands the unique idea and character of the play, and he considers presenting his version into a multi screen installation. Moreover, the mouth is seen on six screens that are arranged in a particular manner to surround the audience. To maximize the influence from the experienced emotions, Jordan considers using specifically large screens for his installation.
We need to underline, that Not I is regarded as the part of one unique project- Beckett on Film. The idea of this project belongs to Michael Colgan (Director of the Gate Theater). At this theatre, 19 plays of Beckett are transferred to films in the period of 2000-2001. It should be mentioned that each film has different director, according to the demands on concrete play to the view of the plot and way of interpretation. Beckett is not easy to please person. However, the play we are speaking about is directed by Neil Jordan, whose concept seemed to be interesting to Beckett. There are several differences in interpretation of the story, but the plot stays without changes. Moreover, Not I, directed by Neil Jordan, has been donated to IMMA in 2001.
It is important to notice that Neil Jordan begins his career as a writer. Years pass before he understands that he should connect his life with film industry and present his own vision on different pieces of art. He begins his career with the role of creative consultant in film Excalibur, by John Boorman in 1981. One year later, Jordan writes and directs his first feature film Angel. This is the begging of his career in film industry. Thus, he directs and produces more than fifteen films during his career. We need to underline that his films have been honored with different awards all over the world. We could name Oscar, Golden Globes, A Golden Lion and Silver Bear among them. His career is considered to be significant for the entire film industry and art development. Moreover, he has been awarded five honorary doctorates for his activity in this direction of film development.
We have analyzed the experience of Neil Jordan in production and direction of films; and this gives us the understanding of the value of his vision of the play Not I. We consider his point of view as a bit widespread and philosophical. Nevertheless, he has used certain tools to influence minds of the audience. However, Not I has been created to play on nerves of the audience, but not to influence their intellectual development.
The comments on the installation are rather different; thus, different people experience different kinds of emotions, connected with the actions and the story itself that is presented by Jordan. However, Not I is considered to be theatrical monologue, created by Beckett in the late period of his professional activity. This is the piece of art that is completed due to minimalism and attention to the main plot of the story. This makes the audience being concentrated on the main idea. This is done to achieve maximum feelings of the audience that are directed on the scene of the play. As it has been already mentioned, the stage consists of the only light that brightens the scene. However, this light serves to illuminate one visible object- mouth of the woman that tells us the story of her life.
In Jordan’s production of this play the monologue of woman lasts about fifteen minute, and it seems to be the stream of variable thoughts that need to be announced to the audience. In addition, we remember that this woman is not able to speak from her early childhood. Thus, if we hear her monologue we make a conclusion that strong emotions have caused her ability to speak in the play and interpret her ideas into the words.
However, Jordan does not change the text of the play at all. He has changed only the presentation of this text. His experiments concern the demonstration of the scene with rather interesting concept. Thus, the monologue is presented from six different angles that are screened in specific form of a novel set up.
When the play Not I is viewed as an artwork not in comparison with the original play we should speak about specific presentation of the action in the film. Jordan makes a dynamic presentation that shows the dramatic story of the woman in a new concrete light.
There are plenty of comments and critics on this play and its film installation. All of them are rather different. It is not surprising, because so many man so many minds. However, the existence of the reaction of audience on the play speaks about its value as a piece of art. Moreover, it has an influence on the minds and emotions of the audience. It is difficult to explain the main idea in fifteen minutes of monologue. However, Beckett succeeds in this process perfectly. The task to present the main idea of the play without action is not an easy one.
We know that in play Not I the main role is played by the mouth of the woman. Therefore, we do not see the play we are used to imagine while thinking about it. Critics notice that the presentation might be more clear and easy for understanding. Although, if you watch the film, you will understand that there is no need to change anything. The main idea is presented in rather specific way, but in this case, it works and gives the required result. The maximum attention of the audience is paid to the only light on the scene and the movement of lips of the woman.
Moreover, to have an extra feeling of presence in the story, the author gives us the opportunity to listen to comments, made up by the voice from the outside. The Audition’s role is still not absolutely clear for the audience of the play. Even Beckett prefers to keep silence about his main part and sense in this play. Even though, every person is given a unique opportunity to figure out whether the Auditor is a guardian angel or an angel of death. Hence, we can speak about the usage of personal imagination while deciding such widely argued aspects of the play.
In conclusion, we need to underline that the author of the play Samuel Beckett has described this play as the action of the moving mouth in the darkness of the rest of the stage. This is one of the specific and most significant visual elements of the play.
This play is supposed to be the part of art of the author that is connected with the late period of his activity. Not I is a short dramatic monologue, and its premiere takes place at the “Samuel Beckett Festival” by the Repertory Theater in New York.
First time this play was directed by Alan Schneider. The action of the Not I takes place in a specific place that is lighted only by a single light. This light concentrates on the mouth of the actress on almost eight feet above the stage. Other elements of the play are presented in the dark space of stage. One could notice the figure of the Auditor. Mouth tells us a story, presented by the huge amount of different sentences announced in a rather fast pace.
We find out that the woman of about seventy years old is left by her parents after birth. This is the reason of the absence of love and understanding in her life. This woman has been virtually mute from the early years of her life. Sometimes, the occasional progress happens. One of such situations is demonstrated by Beckett to illustrate the main sense of the play.
As it was previously mentioned, this play has several significant productions. We have compared the vision of Beckett on the plot of the story with the vision of Neil Jordan, who has created one of the most well-known film productions of this play in 2000. Moreover, the movie has been created on the ground of the story mentioned above. Nail Jordan is the director of this film, produced by Blue Angel Films.
This is, actually, a unique film, based installation that is created under the control of Neil Jordan with the participation of one of the most popular American actresses Julianne Moore. In Jordan’s production of this play the monologue of woman lasts about fifteen minute, and it seems to be the stream of variable thoughts that need to be announced to the audience, in order to help people to understand her story and feel strong emotions of her experience.
Jordan does not change the text of the play at all. He has changed only the presentation of this text. His experiments concern the demonstration of the scene with rather interesting concept. Thus, the monologue is presented from six different angles that are screened in specific form of a novel set up.
All things considered, the film Not I is viewed as an artwork with its specific presentation of the action, in comparison with the original play. Needless to say, Jordan has made a dynamic presentation that shows the dramatic story of the woman in a new concrete light. What is more, every person is given a unique opportunity to figure out whether the Auditor is a guardian angel or an angel of death. Hence, we could speak about the usage of personal imagination while deciding such widely argued aspects of the play.