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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.

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You might also be interested in …

079 – The Hills of California, by Jez Butterworth

079 – The Hills of California, by Jez Butterworth

A new Jez Butterworth play is a theatrical event. The Hills of California is currently running at the Harold Pinter theare in London’s West End, directed by Sam Mendes. Do not be misled by the title, however, we are not in sunny California, but in the back streets of Blackpool, where four daughters come together to say goodbye to their dying mother. The play is a portrait of lost dreams, of deeply ingrained patterns of love and hurt within a family, and of suppressed and mutable memories.

I’m joined to explore this major new work by Sean McEvoy, author of Class, Culture and Tragedy in the Plays of Jez Butterworth.

078 – The Lover and The Collection, by Harold Pinter

078 – The Lover and The Collection, by Harold Pinter

We have a double-bill in this episode of two short plays written by Harold Pinter in the early 1960s: The Lover and The Collection, both of which explore sexual compulsion and the manipulation of truth within marriage or partnerships. As we record this episode a new production of both plays is playing at the Theatre Royal in Bath, directed by Lindsay Posner.

I’m delighted to welcome Lindsay back to the podcast to talk about these two Pinter gems.

Claudie Blakley and David Morrissey in The Lover
Photo by Nobby Clark

077 – An Enemy of the People, by Henrik Ibsen

077 – An Enemy of the People, by Henrik Ibsen

Henrik Ibsen’s play An Enemy of the People is a fable of truth and lies, politics and power, and the challenge and costs of pursuing an unpopular crusade to speak truth to power. It’s a story of ‘fake news’, manipulation of the media, the dangers of populism, and the environmental cost of capitalism. No wonder it strikes a chord in our time, for as we record this episode there are two major new productions of An Enemy of the People on the world stage.

I’m delighted to welcome back to the podcast, Ibsen expert, Professor Kirsten Shepherd-Barr, who I was privileged to talk with in episode 74 on Ibsen’s play Ghosts

Matt Smith as Thomas Stockmann
Duke of York’s Theatre, London
Photo by Manuel Harlan