Vessel and Nation: Company SJ’s Beckett in the City, The Women Speak

Trish McTighe

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In her 2015 production Beckett in the City: The Women Speak, Sarah Jane Scaife forced a reconciliation between the abstracted spaces of Beckett’s later drama and the specifically Irish site she chose for this performance. This multiple billing of Beckett’s Not I, Footfalls, Rockaby and Come and Go showed how performance can reveal traces and remnants of a cultural past, dim echoes, in particular in this case of the ways in which feminine identity and the female body have been imagined – and obscured – in Ireland. Utilising feminist critiques of the ways in which female embodiment has been imagined in relation to space and place and important recent scholarship on Ireland’s ‘architectures of containment’ (Smith 2007), this article argues that Scaife’s production highlights the often unsettled relationship the women of these plays have with the space around them, something that the audience for these pieces cannot help but share, and demands that we ‘hear’ through Beckett’s texts the voices of the silenced women of Ireland’s past.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPerformance Ireland
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 31 Jul 2016


  • Samuel Beckett
  • Gender
  • Irish culture
  • Irish theatre
  • Site-specific theatre

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


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