Not that writing came easily for Beckett; mostly he was unable to blossom until after World War II. Unable or unwilling to hold down a job, young Samuel was, at the time, still supported by his despairing, well-heeled and utterly non-artistic family. He had spent his young adulthood drifting between Paris and Dublin, hobnobbing with Joyce’s circle, giving up a promising academic career at Trinity College Dublin, undergoing psychoanalysis, touring Germany in order to perfect his German and trying to become a connoisseur of painting. His literary output in this period is inconsequential, but his first play, “Human Wishes” (about Samuel Johnson), actually emerged during this time with Joyce.
Playwright David Willinger has delved deeply into the period of this play, owing partly to having worked with so many modernist plays from this period. His literary output includes translations of plays by Belgian surrealists and Dadaists, including “The Round Square” by Rene Magritte, “Scandal in Deliverance” by Paul Joostens, “The Other Side of the Cards” by Paul Nouge, “Dreams Drowning,” “Blockheads,” and “Venus” by Michel de Ghelderode, “Surrealist Film” by Fernand Dumont, “The Ephemeral is Eternal” by Michel Seuphor and “The Mountebanks” by Clement Pansaers.
He is Professor of Theater at City College, where he has also directed some thirty plays. He has received awards from the N.E.A., the N.E.H., the Fulbright Foundation, Drama-Logue, A Translation Center Award, the Jerome Foundation, a Rifkind Center Award, a Mellon Fellowship, a number of PSC-CUNY Awards and an award for Rayonnement des Lettres a l’Etranger from the Belgian Ministry of Culture.
Miranda McDermott (director) is Artistic Director of New Media Repertory Co. (www.newmediarep.org). Second generation of a theatrical family, an actress and playwright by training, she co-founded New Media Rep with painter/sculptor Franklin Engel in 1976. The company’s name came from its willingness to use mixed media onstage before it was widely accepted, even in Off-off Broadway. The troupe located itself on the Upper East Side 38 years ago because that’s where its commitment to cultural diversity would stand out. The organization is also committed to the development of creativity within the individual. Its small brownstone theater houses a young people’s department and an adult repertory company. Professional training in theater and creative writing is offered to individuals of all ages. Cultural diversity is reflected in all its programs and it reaches out to those with special needs and provides scholarships. The company has produced classics by Moliere, Chekhov, Ibsen and Wilde, but its main effort is the presentation and development of the new playwright through play readings as well as full Equity productions. These playwrights have included John Levine, Gerry Holland, Gary Gitter, Jeffrey Gordon, Stanford Pritchard and Edward Musto. Willinger’s play received two workshop readings before this production, both at New Media Rep.
As a playwright, McDermott’s work has been produced at Mercer Arts Center, New Media Rep, Manhattan Theater Club, Provincetown Playhouse and Theater for the New City. She has acted many leading roles Off-Broadway. Her directorial credits include “Duet for One” by Tom Kempensky, “The Miser” by Moliere, “The Ninth of April” by Mark Weston, “Six” by Christopher Durang, “Testiculations” by Geoffrey Gordon, “All Is Calm” by John Levine and “Man On The Street” by Gerry Holland.
“Out Of Their Minds” will be acted by Tony Greenleaf as James Joyce, Greg Horton as Samuel Beckett, Roxann Kraemer as Nora Joyce and Erika Salazar as Lucia Joyce. Set and lighting design by artist/sculptor Franklin Engel and costume design by Caridel Cruz will all be in the style of Modernist Movement black and white drawings of the 20’s and 30’s.
“Out Of Their Minds” will be presented by New Media Repertory Company November 8 to 16, 2014 at New Media Repertory Company Theater, 512 East 80th Street, Manhattan. Performances will be Tuesdays through Saturdays at 8:00 PM and Sundays at 3:00 PM. Tickets are $18 and $15 seniors and students. The box office is 212-734-5195. (Reservations only. No online ticketing available for this show.)