EH JOE by Samuel Beckett
I shall be developing an interpretation of Samuel Beckett”s play…
Isolation is something that we are all too familiar with due to the recent pandemic. I want to explore further whether or not isolation can be transformed into something revelatory by introducing elements of the unexpected. I have always been interested in objects and how they can connect you to the past. I believe that objects retain a sense of the inexplicable, a trace of ancestral memory perhaps. I want to bring objects into the space during the performance and see how they influence the performer and in turn observe how this can affect an audience.
Some thoughts on Eh Joe
I think this could be really interesting if I staged this on campus and used a sort of silhouette effect in the background to represent the doors/windows on the stage by lighting the floor area so as to maximise movement in the space.
So, if the black boarder is studio 2 you place a dark blue boarderto indicate a room. I don’t know if Jules could assist with lighting and the doors and windows are imagined and indicated by movement
Joe is trapped inside this room
It could also be done with Christmas LEDS or torches
Window (this is indicated by movement of actor)
Door (this would not exist and be shown by the actor’s movement)
On set there could be a bed or mattress. I quite like the idea of some sort of small chest being on set whereby he could get certain objects out. And this complements your use of objects which you were working on earlier in the year
There could be a small circle drawn in chalk on the floor. I see Joe performing some sort of ritual at the end which is why I’m suggesting this.
Movement before text
1. he’s sitting on the edge of a mattress on bed he gets up, movesto the to the window, opens the curtains tried to open it, fails
2. Joe walks from window to door, tries to open door, looking out, gets more frustrated, standing intent.
3. Joe goes from door to chest sits down on floor goes to chest, looks in gets some objects scatters them frantically, closing chest, slamming it down.
4. Joe places the objects in order carefully as a ritual. Joes sitsdown on edge of bed as when discovered, beginning to relax.
5. Joe seen from front sitting on edge of bed, relaxed, eyes closed. As the voice starts to speak, he goes to the chest looks at the objects and picks them up one by one
As the play goes on ,each object will evoke a memory. hescatters them in front of him One by one he will discard them into the circle drawn with chalk .(he could even draw this himself)
Lead piping (plastic prop)
Torn fabric lavender colour
Beach pebbles assorted sizes
Joe picks up a piece of piping as the voice says
“You know that penny farthing hell you call your mind … That’s where you think this is coming from, don’t you? … That’s where you heard your father … Isn’t that what you told me? … Started in on you one June night and went on for years… On and off … Behind the eyes . . . That’s how you were able to throttle him in the end … Mental thuggee you called it . . . One of your happiest fancies … Mental thuggee … Otherwise he’d be plaguing you yet … Then your mother when her hour came . . . “Look up, Joe, look up, we’re watching you” . . . Weaker and weaker till you laid her too … Others … All the others Such love he got Godknows why … Pitying love … None to touch it . . . And look at him now … Throttling the dead in his head.”
I think the emotion would be so strong in his mind. I think he’d be hold this and reliving this memory I think tears would be in his eyes and he would be panicking in his vocalmovements
He throws it into the circle
He picks up a silk stocking stares at it
Anyone living love you now, Joe? . . . Anyone living sorry for you now? … That slut that comes on
Saturday, you pay her, don’t you? … Penny a hoist tuppence as long as you like … (Joe casts the stocking aside in the circle. he has a look of deep shame)
Watch yourself you don’t run short, Joe … Ever think of that? Eh Joe? … What it’d be if you ran out of us Not another soul to still… Sit there in his stinking old wrapper hearing himself … That lifelong adorer … Weaker and weaker till not a gasp left there either … Is it that you want? … Well preserved for his age and the silence of the
grave … That old paradise you were always harping on No Joe … Not for the likes of you. (Shakes his head slowly)
Joe picks up an old fashion photo album. there are photos of him inside as a younger man with a woman depicting happiertimes, he looks though it slowly as the voice continues
I was strong myself when I started … In on you … Wasn’t I, Joe? … Normal strength … Like those summer evenings in the … Green In the early days … Of our idyll … When we sat watching the ducks … Holding hands exchanging vows … How you admired my elocution! … Among other charms … Voice like flintglass … To borrow your expression … Powerful grasp of language you had … Flint glass … You could have listened to it for ever … And now this. Squeezed down to this … How much longer would you say? …
Till the whisper … You know … When you can’t hear the words . . . Just the odd one here and there …That’s the worst Isn’t it, Joe? . . . Isn’t that what you told me? … Before we expire . . . The odd word …Straining to hear … Why is that, Joe? … Why must you do that? When you’re nearly home . . . What matter then … What we mean … It should be the best. . . Nearly home again . . . Another stilled … And
it’s the worst … Isn’t that what you said? … The whisper … The odd word … Straining to hear … Brain tired squeezing … It stops in the end … You stop it in the end … Imagine if you couldn’t … Ever think of that? … If it went on. (Slams the book shut throwsit in the circle puts his hands to his head squeezes his eyes shut to stop the voice) … The whisper in your head … Me whispering at you in your head … Things you can’t catch … On and off … Till you join us … Eh Joe?
Joe breathes deeply looks and touches a crucifix, get into a position where he is kneeling and saying a prayer, he is mumbling silently as the voice continues
He sits still he throws the crucifix into the circle His eyes are drawn to the last objects, a photo of a young woman a torn piece of fabric from a slip and some beach pebbles
He grabs the photo he states at it
“But there was one didn’t … You know the one I mean, Joe … The green one … The narrow one … Always pale … The pale eyes … Spirit made.”
As the voice goes on until the end of the play, he unfolds the fabric from the lavender slip. he places the pebbles into a pattern around the circle. he discards this and starts again and then finally stares at the pattern he has made with the stones (he could put them in a shape of a burial mound) as the voice finishes
he kneels next to the circle and lowers his head