Beckett role will leave me shat­tered, says Lisa Dwan

Malta Independent - - ENTERTAINMENT -

Af­ter years of per­form­ing Sa­muel Beckett's play Not I, a part she ad­mits nearly "broke" her, Lisa Dwan is back in an­other gru­elling role.

The ac­tress will per­form the pre­miere of No's Knife, adapted from Beckett's Texts for Noth­ing, in London.

The solo role will see her caked in gory make-up, sus­pended in mid-air and crawl­ing through a peat bog.

"I don't how I'm go­ing to come out by the end," Dwan said dur­ing fi­nal re­hearsals at the Old Vic.

"It's like go­ing through a cheese grater slowly. I'm rip­ping the flesh off."

Dwan adapted the play her­self from Beckett's 1950s prose pieces Texts for Noth­ing.

"It was never in­tended to be per­formed on stage, although Beckett had no ob­jec­tion," Dwan said.

"We in­vite the au­di­ence deep into the black and blue sub­con­scious and into the mind's eye."

In Beckett's Not I, which she first per­formed in 2005, Dwan was blind­folded and strapped to a wooden board to play a dis­em­bod­ied fe­male mouth speak­ing rapidly in a void.

Sim­i­larly, No's Knife puts her in a num­ber of "hair-rais­ing and pre­car­i­ous" po­si­tions.

One, in which Dwan is sus­pended in a cru­ci­fix­ion-like pose, has given her ver­tigo.

"I hope that it'll pass be­cause the world is spin­ning a bit," the ac­tress said. "I only re­alised it when I got up there. It's a bizarre po­si­tion to be in."

Dwan de­scribes No's Knife as an ex­plo­ration of a wo­man's mind and the strug­gles she faces re­lat­ing to iden­tity, age­ing and misog­yny.

The bog that ap­pears on stage was in­spired by a line in the text: "I am down in the hole the cen­turies have dug... flat on my face in the dark earth."

Dwan vis­ited Dublin's Na­tional Gallery, where she saw bod­ies that had been pre­served in peat bogs.

"It made me think of a lot of the buried bod­ies in Europe right now," she said.

"Not just from the First and Sec­ond World Wars, but all the drowned mi­grants - all of those who were never given a chance to be."

Dwan ad­mit­ted that the per­for­mance, which lasts just over an hour, was an "ex­haust­ing ex­pe­ri­ence".

"It's very hard to know how peo­ple will take it," she added. "I thought it was go­ing to be a lot eas­ier, I thought noth­ing could top­ple Not I.

"I'll be shat­tered, but hope­fully I'll be very ful­filled."

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