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David Pattie (University College Chester, UK)
Coming out of the Dark: Beckett’s TV Plays

Over the years, a critical consensus has emerged about the placing of Beckett’s stage images; the brightly lit figures in the later drama are poised against a darkness that is imagined to be infinite. In the title of a recent book on Beckett’s theatre, these are ‘empty figures on an empty stage’; their isolation can be read as a quasi-metaphysical representation of the human figure lost and alone, or as an inherently deconstructed positioning of the human figure in a very nearly decontextualised space.

This paper will argue that, in Beckett’s TV plays, the relation of the image to darkness cannot be thought of as that of the finite positioned against the infinite. This is because, on screen, darkness does not connote depth; in relation to the image, darkness mirrors the surface of the TV screen. This means that, in Beckett’s TV plays, the image is placed in an intermediate position between the flatness of the TV screen and the viewer. The chapter will follow up the implications of this positioning; and will argue that the TV plays gain much of their impact from the ostensible placing of the image in an intermediate space, between the spectator and the flatness of the screen

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