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Beckett's EMBERS

From: Sean McCandless
Length: 29:01

A modern interpretation of Beckett's original "soulscape" radio play

Embers_small Samuel Beckett was a Nobel Prize-winning author known for his stark reflection of humans' habitual search for significance coupled with mental stagnation, His work broke down the linguistic labyrinths of his fellow Irish author and mentor James Joyce. It is said that in his most famous work, Waiting for Godot, he succeeded in putting nothing on stage, twice, and still had the audience gripped to their seats. His radio plays take this style to new heights as the frontiers of sound are manipulated to make spooky, shifting landscapes of mind. Embers is though by many critics as his best play for radio, as it created the new audio category of "soulscape" or "skullscape". Embers is told from the perspective of Henry, a lonely man sitting by the sea recounting the memories and stories that might be able to give his life some meaning. This meaning he seeks is fleeting, despite his obsessive flights into rapid-fire poetry, conversations with possibly dead family members and calls into the wilderness for aural order. His voice is always countered, sometimes dominated by the "sucking" sounds of waves crashing; he can never drown it out, but he can't seem to leave it behind. In this way, Embers is a mystery story, as the listener must try to find order and points that tie things together just as Henry must. Much like in Beckett's other works, the medium is the message, and radio is truely the only medium in which Embers could find life. This production comes from Santa Cruz, Ca, where the obsession with spiritual meaning and the oceanic obstacle to the West are familiar themes. Most of the sounds were recorded locally including the sounds of the ocean on a stormy day. The production of this piece is made distinct from Beckett's original with digital editing technology. With cutting edge effects, Henry's inner ear is made to hear vivid and sometimes terrifying memories. Embers is a classic, but always experimental, and this production brings Beckett's harrowing vision to a new generation.

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Piece Description

Samuel Beckett was a Nobel Prize-winning author known for his stark reflection of humans' habitual search for significance coupled with mental stagnation, His work broke down the linguistic labyrinths of his fellow Irish author and mentor James Joyce. It is said that in his most famous work, Waiting for Godot, he succeeded in putting nothing on stage, twice, and still had the audience gripped to their seats. His radio plays take this style to new heights as the frontiers of sound are manipulated to make spooky, shifting landscapes of mind. Embers is though by many critics as his best play for radio, as it created the new audio category of "soulscape" or "skullscape". Embers is told from the perspective of Henry, a lonely man sitting by the sea recounting the memories and stories that might be able to give his life some meaning. This meaning he seeks is fleeting, despite his obsessive flights into rapid-fire poetry, conversations with possibly dead family members and calls into the wilderness for aural order. His voice is always countered, sometimes dominated by the "sucking" sounds of waves crashing; he can never drown it out, but he can't seem to leave it behind. In this way, Embers is a mystery story, as the listener must try to find order and points that tie things together just as Henry must. Much like in Beckett's other works, the medium is the message, and radio is truely the only medium in which Embers could find life. This production comes from Santa Cruz, Ca, where the obsession with spiritual meaning and the oceanic obstacle to the West are familiar themes. Most of the sounds were recorded locally including the sounds of the ocean on a stormy day. The production of this piece is made distinct from Beckett's original with digital editing technology. With cutting edge effects, Henry's inner ear is made to hear vivid and sometimes terrifying memories. Embers is a classic, but always experimental, and this production brings Beckett's harrowing vision to a new generation.

Broadcast History

KZSC, Santa Cruz, CA, 12/07