By Logan Meyer, news correspondent
ArtsEmerson hosted the New England debut performance of “Here All Night,” a musical interpretation of the works of playwright Samuel Beckett, created and performed by Irish theatre company Gare St Lazare Ireland on Thursday, Oct. 6.
Gare St Lazare Ireland was founded by Judy Hegarty Lovett and Conor Lovett, a married couple and theatre artists with plentiful experience with Beckett’s work. David Dower, co-artistic director for ArtsEmerson, said this is the third time that the group has hosted Lazare.
“Boston has always been a place where Samuel Beckett’s work resonates,” Dower said. “And this is something not seen before. It expands our ongoing conversation with one of the most important writers of the 20th century and with his leading interpreters.”
The creation of the show began in Ireland in 2006 when the Lovetts met Paul Clark, who would become the composer of “Here All Night.”
“During that time, we discussed the potential for looking at the music written and suggested across Beckett’s canon. So that’s where it began,” Hegarty Lovett, the show’s director, said. “And then it has evolved over the years. We looked at music, particularly in ‘Watt,’ which is a novel, and also some of the music from radio plays and some of the suggested music across the the other works. Put those together and you have ‘Here All Night.’”
The production combines select texts by Beckett, original music and a visual art installation to create an enhanced theatrical production. The performance, which occurs on stage around the art installation, offers a rare view of Beckett’s works and state of mind, a viewpoint much appreciated in the artistic community.
“Whether it makes it more accessible or not, let this just kind of wash over you instead of expecting to be unraveling any puzzles,” Lovett, the lead actor in “Here All Night,” said. “It’s more of an experience.”
The production takes the work of Beckett and draws out its humor, making it emotional, desolate and humorous at the same time.
“Don’t try to solve its mysteries through the brain,” Dower said. “Listen instead to the response of your heart, and trust your sense of humor. It’s funny. Laughter is a perfect response.”
Northeastern freshman theatre major Desiré Bennett attended the show’s opening night. She said she’d had experience with Beckett’s works before, but “Here All Night” was something very different.
“I really liked the philosophical discussion between the song and the actor who’s actually monologuing,” Bennett said. “What they were doing was so uncomfortable but also really amazing.”
The show drew visibly polarized reactions from the audience, which the Lovetts say is precisely the point of the work: They want each member of the audience to have a different reaction.
“I don’t think we’ve any messages to drive,” Hegarty Lovett said. “The artwork speaks for itself and I think the audience will bring with them the multitude of ideas and narratives and interpretations and things that they will project onto it, and I think that’s their prerogative. I think that’s what art is about. It’s about inspiring whatever ideas and everybody will have their own unique and special response to this work. That’s more exciting than me coming with a message.”
Photo courtesy ArtsEmerson