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Krapp's Last Tape and The War in Heaven

Honors Directing Thesis

The Department of Theater is proud to present a double bill production of Krapp's Last Tape, by Samuel Beckett, and The War in Heaven: Angel's Monologue, collaboratively created by Joseph Chaikin and Sam Shepard, both directed by Kate Nelson-Lee '03. The running time of the performance is roughly 80 minutes without intermission, and each performance will be followed by a reception in the lobby with the cast and others involved with the production.

Guest artist-in-residence Lorin Lyle '90 performs as Krapp in the short one-man piece about the endless cycle of the human condition. Lorin has been making and performing dance pieces here in the Philadelphia area since 1993. Along with his extensive performance history, Lorin has been running an informal performance and rehearsal space for dance, theater, and music in Philadelphia called The Parlor since 1999.

Samuel Beckett is the best-known absurdist playwright of the early 20th century. The most famous works of his extensive folio are Waiting for Godot, Endgame and Happy Days. Though an Irish Protestant, Beckett wrote extensively in French because he felt that the severe structure of the language gave him much needed discipline in his writings. Krapp's Last Tape is one of a handful of short plays that Beckett wrote in his native tongue, something that Beckett wrote as a less pressured work. While often his plays leave people confused, all of Beckett's work falls into his greater project of "the metaphysical anguish at the absurdity of the human condition," according to noted critic Martin Esslin. Indeed, Beckett himself once said, "I am interested in the shape of ideas even if I do not believe in them..."

Krapp's Last Tape focuses in on this concept of the anguish of living, as we find a lonely old, diminished man living out the final part of his life. Krapp listens to past tapes of his audio diary and re-evaluates his choices. As Martin Esslin notes, "Krapp's Last Tape deals with the flow of time and the instability of the self."

In the other half of the bill, Carlos Duque '03 performs as an angel fallen from heaven and trapped here on earth. Co-created by Joseph Chaikin and the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and actor Sam Shepard, the work originated out of a series of workshops in Cambridge. After extensive exploration with two characters, the work was shelved for a short time. During the break, Chaikin suffered a massive stroke, leaving him aphasic. Shepard and Chaikin spent many long months reworking the piece as a monologue with some new themes that arose out of Chaikin's rehabilitation efforts to regain his use and comprehension of language. Originally performed for radio under Shepard's direction, Chaikin has since extensively performed the angel's monologue around the world in the years since his stroke, including on the Main Stage of the Lang Performing Arts Center under the direction of Prof. Allen Kuharski in 1991 with the support of the William J. Cooper Foundation.

The faculty advisor for the project is Allen Kuharski. Lighting design by William Marshall, Resident Designer in the Department of Theater, and costume design by Susan Smythe. Sound Design by David McCandlish '05.

Reservations required.

Location: Frear Ensemble Theatre
Dates: April 25, 2003 - April 27, 2003
Times: Friday and Saturday, April 25 and 26, at 8 pm, and Sunday April 27 at 2 pm.