Synopsis: One of Samuel Beckett's shortest plays. A director and his assistant prepare an aged man for a public spectacle for a political purpose. The play was dedicated to the Czech dissident Vaclev Havel and was recently revived by the director and scientist Stephen Armourae as part of his 'New Blood' Theatre Season. The role of the aged protagonist was shared between Armourae and the actress Rosanna Hoult as a means of subverting Beckett's messages till further by presenting either Armourae or the very pretty Rosanna as the supposedly aged man as described in Beckett's text: Armourae and Hoult have worked as models.
6 min


Rehearsal. Final touches to the last scene.

Bare stage.

Asistant and Luke have just set the lighting.

Director has just arrived.

Like the look of him?

So so.

Why the plinth?

To let the stalls see the feet.

Why the hat?

To help hide the face.

Why the gown?

To have him all black.

What has he on underneath?

Say it.

His night attire.

- Colour?

- Ash.


How's the skull?

- Youve seen it.

- I forget.

- Say it.

- Moulting. A few tufts.

- Colour?

- Ash.

- Why hands in pockets?

- To help have him all black.

- They mustn't.

- I make a note.

Hands exposed.

How are they?

The hands, how are the hands?

- You've seen them.

- I forget.

Crippled. Fibrous degeneration.

- Clawlike?

- lf you like.

- Two claws?

- Unless he clench his fists.

- He mustn't.

- I make a note.

Hands limp.



Now let's have a look.

Come on.

Lose that gown.

Step on it, I have a caucus.

Like him better without?

- Hes shivering.

- Not all that.


Like that cranium?

Needs whitening.

I make a note.

Whiten cranium.

The hands.

The fists. Come on.

And whiten.

I make a note.

Whiten hands.

Something wrong.

What is it?

What if we were ...

were to...

... point the finger?

No harm trying.


A touch more.



It's coming.

He's shivering.

Bless his heart.

What about a little...

a little... gag?

For God's sake!

This craze for explicitation!

Every i dotted to death!

Little gag!

For God's sake!

Sure he won't utter?

Not a squeak.

Just time.

Ill see how it looks like from the back.

I can't see the toes.

I'm standing in the back row of the stalls

and can't see the toes.

I make a note.

Tilt pedestal.

There's a trace of face.

I make a note.

Down his head.

Come on. Down the head.

A shade more.


Fine. lt's coming.

Could do with more nudity.

I make a note.

Oh, come on! Come on!

Bare the neck.

The legs.

The shins.

The other.

Higher. The knees.

And whiten.

I make a note.

Whiten all flesh.

It's coming.

Is Luke around?



What's the trouble now?

Luke's around.

Blackout stage.


Just the head.



What if he were to... were to...

raise his head...

an instant...

show his face...

just an instant.

Raise his head!

What next?

Where do you think we are?

In Patagonia?

Raise his head?

For God's sake!

Now. There's our catastrophe.

In the bag.

Once more and I'm off.

Once more and he's off.


Now... let em have it.


Hell have them on their feet.

I can hear it from here.

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Samuel Beckett

Samuel Barclay Beckett (; 13 April 1906 – 22 December 1989) was an Irish avant-garde novelist, playwright, theatre director, poet, and literary translator who lived in Paris for most of his adult life. He wrote in both English and French. Beckett's work offers a bleak, tragicomic outlook on human existence, often coupled with black comedy and gallows humor, and became increasingly minimalist in his later career. He is considered one of the last modernist writers, and one of the key figures in what Martin Esslin called the "Theatre of the Absurd".Beckett was awarded the 1969 Nobel Prize in Literature "for his writing, which—in new forms for the novel and drama—in the destitution of modern man acquires its elevation". He was elected Saoi of Aosdána in 1984. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "Catastrophe" STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 22 Jul 2024. <>.

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