Beckett’s 1958 one-act play surveys the life of an elderly man, Krapp, on his 69th birthday, as he plays back tape recordings from earlier points in his life, listening to and commenting on them. As the play progresses, we watch Krapp’s sardonic assessment of his younger self and learn how he came to be alone in the room, the reels of tape in his machine figuring as a larger comment on the spools of time, and how his own life is almost at its end, the last’ tape. Since the play’s debut, many notable actors have taken on the role of Krapp, including Patrick Magee, Harold Pinter and Michael Gambon.
Whilst Beckett himself was said to have disliked the transfer of his works from one format to another, he approved in the case of Krapp’s Last Tape, even writing guidelines for a 1969 television adaptation. Atom Egoyan’s 2000 film, starring the British actor John Hurt, is a fascinating visual exploration of the themes delineated by Beckett in his play manuscript, including the passage of time, the deceptive nature of memory, the fluidity of identity and the advent of technology.
Egoyan’s film was developed into the 2002 exhibition Steenbeckett at the Museum of Mankind, commissioned by Artangel, which included 2000 feet of moving film in the gallery’s space. The installation work experimented with how a viewer reads and interprets cinema and film.
This new publication contains critical texts documenting the creation of the show Steenbeckett, as well as an extended interview with Egoyan about his artistic practice.
Published in partnership with the MacKenzie Art Gallery and Strandline Curatorial Collective.
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