Brian Dennehy & Samuel Beckett's Legacy

Nov 21, 2011

Samuel Beckett's plays are the little black dress of modernist literature. They go with anything.

I saw the South African actors John Kani and Winston Ntshona perform "Waiting for Godot" around 1980. The play seemed like it had been written ABOUT apartheid, because Beckett's bleak comedy is so universal as to be endlessly adaptable. On the other hand, as you'll hear on this show, Beckett had VEY specific ideas about his plays, right down to the cadence at which he wanted ladders climbed.  Today we talked to the actor Brian Dennehy who is tackling -- and not for the first time -- Beckett's version of "Lear" -- "Krapp's Last Tape." You could argue that Krapp is the protagonist Dennehy has played to such acclaim in classic American tragedies like "Death of a Salesman" and "Long Day's Journey Into Night," with most of the details boiled away. Krapp is sort of the raw material for Willy Lohman and James Tyrone. On today's show, we talk to Dennehy about the role and about his work.  And we'll talk to the people who specialize in Beckett about the playwright's enduring appeal.   Leave your comments below, e-mail colin@wnpr.org or Tweet us @wnprcolin.