Gare St Lazare Brings Beckett to Dark, Comic Life at FirstWorks

Thursday, October 28, 2010


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This weekend, acclaimed Irish actor Conor Lovett takes the stage at the RISD Auditorium as the solo actor of First Love, Irish playwright Samuel Beckett's simultaneously dark and funny novella adapted for stage by Gare St Lazare Players Ireland. The show is part of FirstWorks 2010 Festival.

Lovett, who has just finished touring both urban and rural Australia, got to Providence and spent his Wednesday evening working with Brown students in the specific art of solo performance. No stranger to this perilous stage work that demands intense physicality combined with openness to audience response and gesture, Lovett has developed (with his wife and co-artistic director, Judy Hegarty Lovett), a remarkable oeuvre of solo performances.

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First Love
, performed to critical acclaim in many US locations, is another example of Lovett's range, intensity, and ability to make the simultaneously dense and spare prose of Beckett feel as natural as a shrug, and as telling. Lovett took some time post-workshop at Brown to chat about his work with GoLocalProv's Tracey Minkin.

Talk about the challenge of bringing Samuel Beckett to audiences not accustomed to the style of his writing, his point of view.

We do Beckett as we hear it, read it.  We don't get bogged down in trying to interpret it or find meaning, we stick to the storytelling of it - the great comedy, humanity, and compassion. The integrity that Beckett kind of confers on his characters.

He presents characters who have seen rough times, but they don't have the slightest ounce of self-pity.  People everywhere understand that. People don't want the perfection. They don't want the happy ending that is often sold to us. They want to go to a theater to see people who are having as much of a struggle as they are, but are able to laugh at it. 

You've played First Love to critical acclaim from California to New Haven, New York, and now Providence. Do you feel American audiences "get" Beckett?

The reality is, first off, you're going to a theater audience for the most part. Then you're going within the theater audience to the people who say, "I like Beckett, or I've heard I should like Beckett."  It seems to be things are going very well. Critically we're getting a very good reaction. And we're getting invited back.

You were teaching in workshops tonight... what were you teaching?

Over the last 13-14 years i have done maybe 3-4 productions with other people. The rest were solo, and  there's a whole bunch of stuff that I've learned as a solo performer. Which I try to share with fellow actors.

Conor Lovett star in First Love, Friday, 7:30pm at RISD Auditorium, 17 Canal St, Providence. And, post-show, you can "catch a pint with Conor Lovett" at the Wild Colonial Tavern for $10. For reservations for both events, call 421-4278 or check ArtTix, here.


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