Thursday, 5 November 2009

Beckett again

A couple of years back, in Beckett oddments, I mentioned Mark Romanek's award-winning video for kd lang's Constant Craving, which features scenes from Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot. It's worth another look, as I didn't realise at the time that these scenes - according to the director's commentary on The Work of Director Mark Romanek DVD- are intended as a re-creation of the 1953 Godot premiere (originally in French as En attendant Godot) at the Théâtre de Babylone, Paris; Romanek says that the song's lyrics of desperation and waiting fit well with the themes of Beckett's play. Those who know Godot will recognise many of the scenes, such as Lucky dancing, the point where Estragon's trousers fall down when he tries to use the rope from his trousers to hang himself, and the hat-swapping scene. I'm sure there are other Beckett allusions in there: for instance, the reel-to-reel tape recorder running next to kd recalls Krapp's Last Tape.

This provides an excuse to enthuse again about Francis Heaney's Holy Tango Anthology of Literature, an anthology of pastiches based around anagrams of the authors' names. "Samuel Beckett" thus becomes "Bake Me Cutlets", a reimagining of Godot as a cookery show, with Lucky's famous speech becoming an incoherent recipe:
LUCKY: Preparing the evening’s entree of the evening regarding the public statement of the two-headed host who from the heights of palatal tantalization palatal transfiguration palatal temptation wishes us clearly with no exceptions for cutlets of chicken with thyme and dill and salad of the divine Caesar with croutons but thyme and dill are breaded with chicken baked in fire whose fire flames at 375 degrees and who can doubt it will bake the chicken that is to say twenty minutes of baking so crispy moist and warm so warm with a warmth which even though transient is better than salmonella but to return and remembering what is more the ingregregregredients for prepapaparation of chicken cutlets with thyme and dill it is established beyond all doubt that the breading which clings to the cutlets of chicken that is a result of the dipping in milk preserving the bread crumbs with thyme and dill and it is established as hereinafter a pan is greased and as a result of the preheated oven it is established beyond all doubt that the bread crumbs in short the bread crumbs in brief are mixed with thyme and dill thyme and dill concurrently simultaneously what is more these seasonings crumbled or whole can be mixed or in spite of the suggestions of authorities the use of spices such as rosemary coriander oregano cumin marjoram tarragon saffron fenugreek basil flavored salt of all sorts anise and fennel is permitted in a word I resume what is more not to forget the salad which is a simple matter by and large more or less that in the tossing of the lettuce lots of dressing with Parmesan it appears what is more to squeeze a lemon a lemon the juice of a lemon salt and pepper and Parmesan and in the mincing of the onions with the oil flowing tears olive oil the mustard is dry and then a dash of sauce of Worcestershire sauce it is complete but not forgetting the croutons the croutons at last the croutons and anchovies if desired but not so fast I resume at last the oven in short the timer I remove the pan baking baking baking at last at last the crust the crust so crisp so brown at last at last in spite of the labors expended I recommend...salad...the brown...a Riesling...I recommend...delicious... (He subsides. Pause.)

- Bake Me Cutlets, from Holy Tango of Literature, Francis Heaney, Emmis Books, 2004, ISBN: 1578601592 - reproduced under Creative Commons License
Returning to the topic of the Beckett estate's well-known resistance to altered staging of Beckett's works: see the very good article, Beckett the tinkerer (part one), at the blog of the author Jim Murdoch. I can rather see their point about female productions making nonsense of the lines about Vladimir's prostate trouble - unless perhaps the spammer "Mrs Farhat Ali" is playing the role! Vladimir's prostate is, by the way, sufficiently famous to get a reference in the title of a medical paper, Prostate cancer screening: waiting for Godot.

I just found The Fast Show's pastiche of Beckett, And Then What, featuring the fictitious Arthur Atkinson as Hogg, "a lonely bitter pinched wizened git":

- Ray


  1. Mmmmm ... chicken. I was lovin' the recipe until the anchovies ...

    Some day, you or Felix are going to have to explain the word "git" to me. Around here, all it means is "Go!".

  2. git

    Well, there's a cod etymology that it's short for "illegitimate", but it actually comes from "get" / "gett"(from the OED - " b. orig. Sc. and north. In contemptuous use = brat. Also spec. a bastard; hence as a general term of abuse: a fool, idiot. (Cf. GIT.) Now dial. and slang.").

    As the precise semantics, to me it implies miserableness, pettiness, selfishness, inflexibility. The old man who refuses to give back your ball when it accidentally goes over his garden wall is a git. The person who you feed a lavish meal to when they're broke, who then demands repayment for the 10p he lent you for bus fare: that's a git. The shop owner who won't let you stand in the shelter of the doorway when you're caught in a downpour: that's a git.

  3. Git on wi you.

    First Julie with her incomprehensible poetry and then a video in a foreign language. Reminds me of my
    Jackeen friends:
    "An incorrect but common suggested origin of the word (Jackeen) comes from John Bull, the personification of Britain. John Bull became Jack Bull and, using the Irish suffix — ín meaning small, Jack became Jackeen. Therefore, Jackeen literally means Little Jack or "minibrit"."

    I guess that's where minibar came from. Or for that matter, mini-mini.

  4. and then a video in a foreign language

    I can't help it; I hear music I like, and then find it's from a Finnish-Slovenian rock opera about Nazi yaks. It could happen to anyone.