Happy Days: A Play in Two ActsSamuel Beckett
In “Happy Days”, Samuel Beckett pursues his relentless search for the meaning of existence, probing the tenuous relationships that bind one person to another, and each to the universe, to time past and time present. Once again, stripping theater to its barest essentials, “Happy Days” offers only two characters: Winnie, a woman of about fifty, and Willie, a man of about sixty. In the first act Winnie is buried up to her waist in a mount of earth, but still has the use of her arms and a few earthly possessions — toothbrush, tube of toothpaste, small mirror, revolver, handkerchief, spectacles; in the second act she is embedded up to her neck and can move only her eyes. Willie lives and moves — on all fours — behind the mound, appearing intermittently and replying only occasionally to Winnie’s long monologue, but the knowledge of his presence is a source of comfort and inspiration to her, and doubtless the prerequisite for all her “happy days”. In the original Paris production, the foremost French actress Madeleine Rénaud turned the role of Winnie into a tour de force of acting and has since toured the U.S. performing it in French, while the late Ruth White won many awards and accolades for her performance in the 1961 New York English-language premiere. Samuel Beckett was born on April 13, 1906, in Foxrock, near Dublin. Just before World War II, he took up residence in France, and has lived there ever since. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1969, and his literary output, including plays, novels, stories, and poems, has earned him the reputation of being one of the greatest writers of our time.