Beckett, Samuel (1906 – 1989)

Beckett endorses Giacometti as set designer for their joint production

A fine autograph letter signed by Samuel Beckett (‘Sam’), Ferté-sous-Jouarre, 3rd October 1957. The playwright writes an interesting association letter that is rich with information about his various creative activities, to his collaborator, director Deryck Mendel.

In full, ‘Dear Deryck, By all means ask Giacometti to decorate the mimes. My only fear is that they are not his cup of tea and that he may be embarrassed to refuse. But perhaps I underestimate him? I haven’t thought of the 3rd at all. If Dublin definitely decides she wants us I’ll crank up the old engine (de Dion Bouton). I’m up to my tonsure translating my foul L’Innommable [Beckett’s 1953 novel The Unnamable). I wrote John [John S. Beckett — the author’s cousin] about the music, but have had no reply. Vera had discouraging account of him when I saw her recently on her way through to rejoin him in London. She was not very explicit and perhaps I am unduly alarmed. Blin (actor/director Roger Blin) is going to Herma to produce Endgame, and there is talk of inviting John to do his music. Unfortunately seem to want their own player for the mime. You might see Blin all the same about the possibility of your going — if you are interested. I shall be in Paris about the middle of November, for a few days. I hope we shall meet then and that there will be definite news from Dublin. Yours ever, Sam’.

In fine condition, and together with the original envelope, hand-addressed by Beckett. Early letters by Beckett about his plays are quite rare, and especially so in English.

Beckett collaborated with Deryck Mendel on his play Act Without Words I — a mime. Its first performance was in May 1957 at the Royal Court in London, with music written by Beckett’s cousin John S. Beckett. They went on to collaborate several further times: in June 1963, Mendel directed the premiere of Beckett’s Play, in 1966, on the occasion of Beckett’s sixtieth birthday, Mendel appeared as Joe in the premiere of Eh Joe in Stuttgart, and in 1968 Mendel directed one of the first English performances of Beckett’s Come and Go at the Royal Festival Hall. Though Giacometti was not involved with productions of Act Without Words I, he did go on to collaborate with Beckett on a 1961 production of Waiting for Godot.