Beckett, Samuel (1906 – 1989)

‘I have had to make a small alteration in mime scenario, in function of cube dynamics…’

An early typed letter signed by Samuel Beckett (‘Sam’), December 13th 1956. The playwright writes to Deryk (Mendel), in reference to their upcoming collaborative work Act Without Words I, also referring to Endgame, which was yet to premiere.

He opens, ‘Thanks for your card. Il y a du nouveau. Beer and de Ribon convocated us, Blin, Lindon and myself, yesterday evening and asked our authorisation for them to intercalate a play, for a maximum run of one month, between Crommelynck and us, in other words to postpone our opening to February 20th. We have accepted. I  am relieved.’ Beckett continues, ‘The work on Endgame is very behindhand and I was increasingly paralysed at the thought of our having to set up the mime in three weeks, the more so as I have been unable to get hold of Noel in spite of repeated pneus and foresaw there would be not objects ready for you on your return. As the play to intervene has little if any set we shall have free use of the stage from January 10th onward. I have written to John [Beckett, the author’s cousin], at present in Ireland and girding up his loins to arrive December 21st, to ask him to arrive instead about January 15th. This new setup is a practcal [sic] cert, but will not be quite official until this evening. If I do not write again you may take it that these presents call for no correction. I have had to make a small alteration in mime scenario, in function of cube dynamics, but nothing to signify. All the best from us both, Yours ever, Sam’.

Folded and creased, otherwise fine.

A rare letter showing Beckett in the midst of production for one of his most celebrated plays; Endgame was ultimately first performed on 3 April 1957 at the Royal Court Theatre in London in a French-language production, directed by Roger Blinn, who also played the role of Hamm. Act Without Words I also premiered on 3rd April 1957, in the same theatre, its performance directly following on from that of Endgame, with music written by John Beckett.

After collaborating with Beckett on Act Without Words I, Mendel 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.