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Beckett, Samuel - Not I (1972)

Beckett, Samuel - Not I (1972)

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Published by: Jacob Bard-Rosenberg on Mar 03, 2012
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Stage in darkness but for MOUTH, upstage audience right, about 8 feet above stage level, faintly lit from close-up and below, rest of face in shadow. Invisible microphone. A UDITOR, downstage audience left, tall standing figure, sex undeterminable, enveloped from head to foot in loose black djellaba, with hood, fully faintly lit, standing on invisible podium about 4 feet high shown by attitude alone to be facing diagonally across stage intent on MOUTH, dead still tbrougbout but for four brief movements where indicated. See Note. As house lights down MOUTH'S voice unintelligible behind curtain. House lights out. Voice continues unintelligible behind curtain, 10 seconds. With rise of curtain ad-libbing from text as required leading when curtain fully up and attention sufficient into:
MOUTH:

our ... into this world ... this world ... tiny little thing before its time ... in a godfor- ... what? .. girl? .. yes tiny little girl ... into this ... out into this ... before her time ... godforsaken hole called ... called ... no matter ... parents unknown ... unheard of ... he having vanished ... thin air no sooner buttoned up his breeches she similarly eight months later ... almost to the tick so no love spared that ... no love such as normally vented on the speechless infant ... in the home ... no ... nor indeed for that matter any of any kind ... no love of any kind ... at any subsequent stage ... so typical affair nothing of any note till coming up to sixty whenwhat? .. seventy? .. good God! .. coming up to seventy wandering in a field ... looking aimlessly for cowslips to make a ball ... a few steps then stop ... stare into space ... then on ... a few more ... stop and stare again ... so on ... drifting around ... when suddenly .. , gradually, .. all went out, ',' all that early April morn•••.

. [Pause and movement 1. or no particular reason for its own sake .... [Good laugh.... or for the lot ...... thought to be suffering ... what? . when clearly intended to be having pleasure .... vain reasonings ... what? . [Good laugh. then dismissed as foolish ... insentient .. whether standing or sitting . in a way . she was in fact ...........NOT! 377 ing light .... or sitting or kneeling . or kneeling . but the brain. yes . sudden flash . she did not know what position she was in imagine! .... in the ears . yes .... very .. what position she was in! ...... hal ... lying? .. socalled . not suffering! .... she was not suffering imagine! ..... first thought was oh long after sudden flash . she! .... further proof if proof were needed . came and went . then dismissed as foolish was perhaps not so foolish .. this thought dismissed ... and a ray of light came and went ..... with the other waifs ..] ...... for she could still hear the buzzing ... as she suddenly realized ......... or lying .... whether standing or sitting . [Brief laugh... brought up as she had been to believe with the other waifs in a merciful ... thing she understood perfectly that notion of punishment ... brought up as she had been to believe ...] ..... after all so on all that . and if not exactly . found herself in the dark . kneeling? ... in and out of cloud .. in a merciful ... feeling so dulled . [Brief laugh.. till another thought oh long after . such as the moon might cast .. whether standing ... that notion of punishment for some sin or other .. oh long after sudden flash ...... God .1 . just as the odd time in her life .. and she found herself in the... which had first occurred to her . what? .. drifting . who?.. but so dulled feeling ... she was being punished for her sins a number of which then . gradually realized . but the brain.. having none ... flashed through her mind ....] God . insentient . oh long after .. indeed could not remember off-hand when she had suffered less .] first occurred to her . for her first thought was ........ one after another .... but the brain still still .. no! .. not the slightest in which case of course . unless of course she was meant to be suffering ..

.. shut out the light .. not any sound . couldn't make the sound . and all dead still . had not all gone out . dull roar in the skull and all the time this ray or beam · .] ... the .. not in the ears at all . sweet silent as the grave . [Silence... incapable of deceit .. or powerless to respond like numbed .. opening . no part. oh long after sudden flash very foolish really but so like her in a way . all silent but for the buzzing so-called ..378 THE COMPLETE DRAMATIC WO~KS foolish really butwhat? .. no moon .. under control to question even this . but always the same spot .... presumably on and off . she realiz.... then listen again .. some flaw in her make-up .. certainly not . but could not '" could not bring herself ..... all that moisture ...... {Silence. that April morning ... as she hastened towards it .. gradually .... though actually in point of fact not in the least . in the skull ..... at this stage in control .. shutting ..... yes . even best of times . she fixing with her eye · .] '" no ....... when suddenly ... no screaming for help for example should she feel so inclined . writhe she could not . as no moon could no . .. but the lids ...... no pari of her moving' that she could feel just the eyelids .... yes . on and off ... no sound of any kind ..... but the brain still still sufficiently ... what? ..... groan .. oh very much so! . so on so on it reasoned ... in the ears ... on her part . so far ha! ... or the machine . now shrouded ....... like moonbeam but probably not ....... just all part of the same wish to torment · .... all silent as the grave . so disconnected never got the message . any ..... no feeling of any kind ....... though of course actually ... that she might do well to .. reflex they call it .] then listen .. always the same spot now bright .... more likely the machine . so far this other thought then . scream . as if in actual agony .... without any . who feels them? .. all that light of itself ..... " [Screams again. [Screams. "for on that April morning so it reasoned .] ·...... vain questionings ....... scream again...... the buzzing? . a distant bell .. the buzzing? .. what? .... all the time the buzzing so-called . not a twinge ... spared that . fixing it with her eye lest it elude her ..

once or twice a year ......... oh long after ..... imagine! .. and no doubt would have ... when suddenly she felt . a voice she did not recognize ....... on what one is saying .... not her voice at all .. with the bag old black shopping bag . motionless . it was not hers at all . after long efforts . the whole being .. no! .... the bag back in her hand . was on the point . the tongue? ..NOTI 379 buzzing? . elsewhere .. had she .. than her own . no speech possible .... what? . and now this stream . not felt at all .. that feeling was coming back .... till it was back in her hand . and not alone the lips . on the contrary .... words were. then finally had to admit could be none other .. the jaws .. staring into space .. so that not only she had . not only had she .. but this other awful thought .. she who had never ... feeling coming .. the whole face ...... who?. even more awful if possible ... practically speechless all her days how she survived! . how she survived! . imagine! .. imagine! . and yet in the ordinary way .......... no idea what she was saying! . the rare occasions ...... the tongue in the mouth . hanging on its words .. gradually she felt . words were coming . till she began trying to .. as of course till then she had not . her lips moving ... at first so long since it had sounded .......... all dead still but for the buzzing .......... not as much as good-bye ..... what?......... all those. realized .. her lips moving! .... so that people would stare . the cheeks . no idea ... mouth half open as usual .. always winter some strange reason stare at her uncomprehending .......... supermart just hand in the list .... so intent one is .... then stand there waiting any length of time . vital she should .. then pay and go . all those contortions without which . [Pause and movement 2. to give up .. not the quarter . and now this stream steady stream . middle of the throng . sudden flash . imagine! ...... words were coming . admit hers alone her voice alone . yes .. certain vowel sounds . she had never heard .. she! ... delude herself . when suddenly she realized ...... yes ........... what she was saying .... even shopping out shopping busy shopping centre .... not catching the half of it .] ..

.. . all. straining to hear . . or that time she cried . . or couldn't. no idea what she's saying imagine! . dusk .. . and her own thoughts . . day after day..... . cheeks . not catching the half ... .... .. . something begging in the brain. if only for a moment . . .. . stop and stare again.. old hag already.. never. . .... . ... trying to make sense of it . a few steps then stop. . . . but a moment! . as if it hadn't heard. .. home! " a little mound in Croker's Acres · . then thinking oh long after sudden flash it can't go on . . . and the whole brain begging.. all that together.. practically in her ear... . so on . now can't stop. . all that together .. . ... the one time she could remember. jaws .. whole body like gone . so far . walks mostly. .. .. . . and no response. imagine! . can't stop the stream. Chee ks ~.. ... . so-called. and the brain.. the whole machine but no spared that . . . . must have cried as a baby. . make something of them. . just the mouth . . . . no sound of any kind .. sitting staring at her hand.... . . .. or in the past.. . make something of it . .. then on . where was it? . Croker's Acres.. piece it together · . . all the time the buzzing.. tongue .. . tongue .. yes . imagine! . raving away on its own. . pause a moment . sitting staring at her hand. one evening on the way home . .. in her ear .. ... tears presumably hers presumably . breathing.. stare into space. starting at the top then working down . . couldn't pause a second.. . . the palm . no one else for miles . begging the mouth to stop. lips . . a few more... . .. stream of words.. . . dragging up the past ... not the quarter ... just the birth cry to get her going . . walking all her days. .. . all this all that steady stream straining to hear ..... not essential to life .. .. never still a second mouth on fire ... day after day.. . yes IpS. there in her lap .. the buzzing?. ...... w hat . no idea what she's saying! . ... .. perhaps not.. drifting around · .. .. . she who but a moment before .. what? ..l' I' pws . or make it stop. could not make a sound .. like maddened .380 THE COMPLETE DRAMATIC WORKS back! . ..... .... and can't stop no stopping it .. · ~ '.. .. . since she was a baby. . . the mouth alone so far hal ... .. flashes from all over. then no more till this. ... . .. . . palm upward suddenly saw it wet .. .

......... had been? .. and can't stop ... dull roar in the skull .. and the beam . flickering away on its own ... sat and watched them dry . how she survived! .. lived on and on . yes .... whole body like gone ... [Pause and movement 3.. the buzzing? ... keep an eye on that too corner of the eye .... .. quick grab and on . something she had to tell . good God! ..... straining to hear .. seventy? ...... all part of the same .. God is love .... how she had lived .. spared that .. who? . on and on to be seventy something she didn't know herself .......... godforsaken hole no love ........ could that be it? ........ on to the next .... starting to move around . what?. now this . like maddened · ... something that would tell how it was .... how she. what? . had to tell . so far then thinking oh long after . could that be it? . all that together . nothing there . what?. or grabbing at straw ..... tender mercies . can'twhat? .... just the tears .. all the time the buzzing dull roar like falls .. back in the field morning sun April sink face down in the grass nothing but the larks so on ..... then forgiven .. waiting to be led away glad of the hand on her arm .... grabbing at the straw . the odd word .. yes all the time the buzzing .. before its time ....] something she had to.NOTI 381 no sound . practically speechless .. and the beam . can't go on God is love she'll be purged . as little sense .... all over in a second ... on and on . no! . she! ... stood there staring into space mouth half open as usual . the buzzing? . herself . sudden flash perhaps something she had to ..... something she had to .. make some sense of it .. flickering on and off . just the mouth .. no stopping it ..... something she. wouldn't know if she heard . something shewhat? ..... speechless all her days . yes something that would tell how it had been · . that time in court what had she to say for. all that together ... bad as the voice worse .... tell tiny little thing ..... so far ... guilty or not · . guilty or not guilty stand up woman speak up woman ..... something she had to.. like moonbeam but not . the brain .. ferreting around painless . to be sixty .. hal .

... what?. the brain . no! . all right ....... yes .... who?.. sudden urge to .' sudden flash .] .... nothing to do with that? . so on ..... godforsaken hole ... what? .... in the skull and the beam poking around painless .. till she saw the stare she was getting .. like maddened .. quicker and quicker .. this ... speechless all her days . something else again .. think of something else . try something else .. '.. always winter some strange reason . face in the grass .... too faint . nothing she could tell? .. oh long after.. or unheard ..... she! .. [Pause and movement 4.. hit on it in the end ... what she was trying ... no one could follow .. nothing she could tell . now this . " all that . steady stream mad stuff . she! ...... what? . so on .. new every morning ..... the words . what to try whole body like gone just the mouth .. so on keep on ..... practically speechless even to herself . the long evenings .. crawl back in ..... then die of shame .. unanswered prayer unanswered .. pick it up there . quick grab and on .... half the vowels wrong .... who?..... something in her begging .... nothing but the larks . another few. so far. keep on not knowing what what she was......... once or twice a year ..... all the time the buzzing dull roar like falls ... not that either . out before its time ..... try somewhere else . back in the field .... all the time something begging . all right . no love . then forgiven ... SHE! ... nothing there ..... nothing shewhat?.. nothing she could think? ... once or twice a year always winter some strange reason .] tiny little thing ... nothing she could think ... hours of darkness .... flickering away like mad .. [Pause..382 THE COMPLETE DRAMATIC WORKS . the buzzing? ..... all right .... trying not knowing what .. so far hal . no! . not that? ... spared that ... nothing she could tell . begging it all to stop ... on somewhere else . think everything keep on long enough . keepwhat? .. but not completely sometimes sudden urge .......... never out loud .. tell then rush out stop the first she saw nearest lavatory start pouring it out . long hours of darkness ... back in the. April morning .. nothing to do with that either? ... not that either? . get on with it from there .

..] tz: Curtain fully down. There is just enough pause to contain it as MOUTH recovers from vehement refusal to relinquish third person. :.. 10 seconds. keep on .. face in the grass nothing but the larks ..m~tter .. . ceases as bouse ligbts Movement: this consists in simple sideways raising of arms from sides and their falling back..ebind unintelligible..:.NOTI 383 what she was trying ... [Curtain starts down. tender mercies . no .. It lessens with each recurrence till scarcely perceptible at third..... Voice continues b. every morning back in the field .. .. hit on.] . new t h en b ac k . It in the end God is love . what to try . pick It up up. in a gesture of helpless compassion.. April m?r~ng . House dark..

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