Shorter and Shorter: Samuel Beckett’s Challenge to the Theatre


  • Laura Peja Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Milan



Samuel Beckett’s poetics of “less is more” has anticipated and even partly shaped the evolution of contemporary drama and theatre as one of the fundamental models of the performative turn of the last decades. His late style as a dramatist and a director has influenced contemporary performative theatre in artistic, socio-cultural, and even commercial terms (formats, bills, venues and unconventional settings such as installations, exhibitions, and urban spaces). Nevertheless, his most challenging pièces, the shorter plays, appear to be still waiting for a ‘staging tradition’ which could make the most of their constitutive brevity. In fact, productions of the so-called “dramaticules” have multiplied on the world scene, although often presented in antologies, collections, or multiple billings. Yet, there have already been some interesting and promising productions, and this paper aims at showing the centrality and pregnancy of brevity on the artistic and performative contemporary scene approaching Beckett’s poetics of subtraction in the wider perspective of the interplay between the theatre and other arts. Both focusing on the spectator’s experience and the ‘commercial challenge’, contemporary arts and Beckett’s late theatre have come closer and closer. A brief assessment of the fortune of Beckett’s shorter plays on the Italian stage confirms the fecundity of this intersectional path on which the artistic and performative scene seems to be going further along.






Monographic Section