'There's the record, closed and final': Rough for Theatre II as Psychiatric Encounter

J Heron, M Broome

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A co-authored collaboration between a theatre practitioner and a clinical psychiatrist, this paper will examine Rough for Theatre II (RFTII) and Beckett's demonstration of the way records are used to understand the human subject. Using Beckett's play to explore interdisciplinary issues of embodiment and diagnosis, the authors will present a dialogue that makes use of the 'best sources' in precisely the same manner as the play's protagonists. One of those sources will be Beckett himself, as Heron will locate the play in its theatrical context through reflections upon his own practice (with Fail Better Productions, UK) as well as recent studies such as Beckett, Technology and the Body (Maude 2009) and Performing Embodiment in Samuel Beckett's Drama (McMullan 2010); another source will be the philosopher Wilhelm Windleband, whose 1901 History of Philosophy was read and noted upon by Beckett in the 1930s, as Broome will introduce a philosophical and psychiatric context to the exchange. Windelband is now a neglected figure in philosophy; but as one of the key figures of Neo-Kantianism in the late 19(th) century, his work was an important impetus to that of Rickert, Weber and Heidegger. Specifically, Windelband gives us the distinction between idiographic and nomothetic understanding of individuals, an approach that is of relevance to the psychiatric encounter. This academic dialogue will consider tensions between subjectivity and objectivity in clinical and performance practice, while examining Beckett's analysis of the use of case notes and relating them back to Windelband's ideas on the understanding of others. The dialogue took place in 2011 at the University of Warwick, and has since been edited by the authors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-181
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Medical Humanities
Early online date18 Feb 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2016


  • Philosophy
  • Samuel Beckett
  • Wilhelm Windelband
  • Psychiatry Performance
  • Embodiment


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