Body, Voice, and the Actress in Beckett’s Theater
Focusing on what this chapter terms its “operatic” vocal score, this chapter offers a detailed analysis of Fiona Shaw’s performance as Winnie in Beckett”s Happy Days (1961), in Deborah Warner’s revival production at the Royal National Theatre, London (2007). The analysis focuses on Shaw’s physical and vocal scores and their inter-relation. Utilising Roland Barthes’ work in “The Grain of the Voice” (1977) and Steven Connor’s work on “the sob” (2008), the chapter argues that Shaw’s construction of an “operatic” vocal score eventually produces, at the peak of the “sob,” a moment of pure geno-song which communicates with the individual spectator via a “chora-like” performance energy (see Kristeva 1984). Characterising Shaw’s vocal score as an “extended sob,” the chapter discusses the particular implications of this for the spectator’s experience of the work.
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