Exploring the greatest new and classic plays

SUPPORT OUR PODCAST BY BECOMING A PATRON
CLICK HERE

Matthew McFrederick

Matthew McFrederick

Matthew McFrederick

Matthew McFrederick is a theatre practitioner, historian and academic, originally from Northern Ireland. He is a Lecturer in Theatre at the University of Reading, where he completed his PhD investigating the production histories of Samuel Beckett’s drama in London.

In addition to teaching and publishing articles about the work of Samuel Beckett, his research interests include modern practices in directing and scenography, as well as contemporary British, Irish and Northern Irish playwriting.

The University of Reading is the home of the Samuel Beckett Research Centre, which includes the world-leading archive of Beckett material.

Recommended Play(s)

Matt recommended Cyprus Avenue by David Ireland.

 

 

 

003 – Endgame, by Samuel Beckett

003 – Endgame, by Samuel Beckett

Show Notes

The stage is empty but for a single armchair and two dustbins. A sheet is draped over what appears to be a figure sitting in the chair. This is the famous opening tableaux of Samuel Beckett’s play Endgame. Endgame premiered in French at the Royal Court theatre in London in 1957, following on from Beckett’s breakthrough play Waiting for Godot, which four years earlier had shocked the dramatic world and defined an enduring notoriety for the playwright. The shorthand for Endgame is that two of the play’s characters inhabit dustbins, and the central character is blind and unable to move from his chair; in other words, another difficult, existential drama that challenges theatrical convention and our understanding. But it is also a play that can be very funny, as shown in the recent revival at the Old Vic in London starring Daniel Radcliffe and Alan Cumming.

To explore the method, meaning and impact of Beckett’s startlingly original play, I am joined by Beckett expert, Dr Matthew McFrederick, Lecturer in Theatre at the University of Reading.

My conversation with Matt was recorded via video link during the early days of the lockdown for the Coronavirus.

En Attendant Godot
Festival D’Avignon 1978

Addendum

This is a brief addendum to episode 3 on Samuel Beckett’s Endgame, extracted from the original conversation with Matt. This excerpt talks about Beckett’s early life, as well as where his first plays came from, including his breakthrough play Waiting for Godot.

Dr Matthew McFrederick

Matt is a theatre practitioner, historian and academic, originally from Northern Ireland. He is a Lecturer in Theatre at the University of Reading, where he completed his PhD investigating the production histories of Samuel Beckett’s drama in London.

In addition to teaching and publishing articles about the work of Samuel Beckett, his research interests include modern practices in directing and scenography, as well as contemporary British, Irish and Northern Irish playwriting.

The University of Reading is the home of the Samuel Beckett Research Centre, which includes the world-leading archive of Beckett material.

Recommended Play

Matt recommended Cyprus Avenue by David Ireland.

Photo © Marc Brenner

We have footnotes for this episode …

These footnotes are a follow-up to our live discussion in episode three of the podcast, including a selection of points from my researches that we didn’t happen to include, as well as follow-up on any facts and questions that came up during our conversation with Matt. It also includes some additional  audio that didn’t make the final cut, where Matt and I talked about Beckett’s early life, as well as where his first plays came from, including of course his breakthrough play Waiting for Godot.

Patreon Page

BECOME A PATRON!

Since I launched The Play Podcast in April 2020, I have managed to eschew any form of advertising or sponsorship, and I would like to continue to produce the podcast without doing so. I therefore invite you to help me to continue to make the podcast by becoming a Patron.
Additional benefits available to Patrons include Footnotes on the plays covered in the podcast, as well as exclusive access to The Play Review.

For details click here

Thank you very much for listening and for your support.
Douglas

The Texts

If you are interested in buying the play text or other related books, we’d be delighted if you choose to purchase them by following the links below. We will earn a small commission on every book you purchase, which helps to keep the podcast going. You will also be supporting an independent bookseller. Thank you.

You might also be interested in …

057 – Arms and the Man, by George Bernard Shaw

057 – Arms and the Man, by George Bernard Shaw

G.B. Shaw’s Arms and the Man is both a sparkling romantic comedy and a telling satire of love, war and social pretension. It was Shaw’s first public success as a playwright when it premiered in London in 1894, and is currently enjoying an acclaimed revival at the Orange Tree theatre in Richmond, Surrey.

I’m joined by Shaw expert Ivan Wise, who is a previous editor of The Shavian, the journal of the Shaw Society.

056 – Good, by C.P. Taylor

056 – Good, by C.P. Taylor

C.P. Taylor’s powerful, cautionary play Good charts how an ostensibly ‘good’ person can become not just complicit to evil behaviour, but an active participant. Professor John Halder’s creeping moral compromise as he joins the Nazi elite in 1930’s Germany is a disturbing reminder of the dangers of populist political crusades.

The play is currently being revived at the Harold Pinter theatre in London with David Tennant in the role of John Halder, and I’m delighted to be joined by the production’s director, Dominic Cooke, to explore the contemporary resonances of this provocative play.

055 – Spring Awakening, by Frank Wedekind

055 – Spring Awakening, by Frank Wedekind

Frank Wedekind’s dark, expressionist play Spring Awakening is a cautionary portrait of adolescent angst and rebellion against oppressive social strictures and family pressures. Its frank depiction of sex and violence remains shocking more than 130 years after it was written, and it is the unlikely source of the award-winning modern musical of the same name.

I’m delighted to be joined by Professor Karen Leeder to explore the contemporary controversies and enduring relevance of this extraordinary play.