January 2021 - Let Us Entertain You: Krapp's Last Tape


James Cady (left) and  Philip J. Shortell (right) in "Krapp's Last Tape.
James Cady (left) and Philip J. Shortell (right) in "Krapp's Last Tape. Photo credits: James Cady & Philip J. Shortell

The Adobe Theater presents its next virtual production, Krapp’s Last Tape. This short one-act play, written in 1958, is considered to be among Nobel Prize Winner Samuel Beckett’s major contributions to dramatic literature, which include Waiting for Godot and Happy Days. It is one of Beckett’s most frequently performed dramas and has been referred to as "one of his most personal works." Stars James Cady and Philip J. Shortell sat down with New Mexico Entertainment to share why this play, role choices and what they want the audience to be left with after the show.


What made you choose this production for the stage?

James Cady (JC): Samuel Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape is a classic in the repertory of existential dramatic writing. That’s enough for me. I love to do plays that I believe have a chance of surviving literary fancy.

Two actors will be playing the same role. Which sparked that decision?

(JC): The play has been performed by many great actors including John Hurt, Patrick Magee, even Harold Pinter. When actors get old, their ambition is to play King Lear. But also, when some actors get old they realize they lack the stamina to play the king. Then, the wise old actors play “Krapp''. And so it goes. And here we are, Phil and I, too old to play Lear, now qualify as “Krapp”. Phil and I have been friends for many years. At first, I asked Phil to direct me. Then, in conversation with my friend, director Joe S. Feldman, he suggested that we direct each other in the play. I thought it was a great idea. I posed it to Phil. He agreed. And so, here we are, two “Krapps”.

(PJS): My good friend Jim Cady asked me to direct him in this production. Then a mutual friend suggested that it would be interesting to have two versions of the show, one with me directing Jim and then Jim turning around and directing me in a parallel production of the play. So you have two veteran actors who get to bring their individual insights to a one man show depicting someone in their own (advanced) age group.

What do you want audiences to feel with this production?

(JC): Excellent question. I have no idea. The question really is what did Mr. Beckett want the audience to take away. Again, I have no idea. But the interesting thing about Krapp, as it comes to mind: the audience is watching a man dying in front of their eyes. Not from a gunshot, not to a stabbing, nor to a push off a cliff. No, this man is a victim of MEMORY. His own secrets. A victim of his “farewell to love”. The audience will take from Mr. Beckett’s script and our performance of it, what they will.

(PJS): I would like the audience to experience the majestic poetry of language in this masterwork by one of the greatest playwrights of the 20th century Samuel Beckett and to feel and understand the joys and sorrows of a man coming to grips with his own mortality on his sixty ninth birthday.


FOOTNOTE

Krapp’s Last Tape was chosen to perform by James Cady.It is Krapp’s 69th birthday and he hauls out his old tape recorder and listens to himself thirty years younger. He starts to make a new recording commenting on the years of his existence. Performances of Cady and Shortell are on alternate days. James Cady performs Thursday, January 14th, and Saturday January 16th at 7:30pm, Philip J. Shortell performs Friday, January 15th at 7.30pm and Sunday, January 17th at 2:00pm. Info and tickets at www.adobetheater.org or call 505-898-9222.

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