Variety brought us the great news:

Production, finance and sales outfit Film Constellation is launching pre-sales on upcoming Samuel Beckett biopic “Dance First,” to be directed by James Marsh and to star Gabriel Byrne.

Marsh won an Academy Award for best documentary feature in 2009 with “Man on Wire,” and also directed the Stephen Hawking biopic “The Theory of Everything,” which earned five nominations at the 2015 Oscars, including best picture, and a best actor win for Eddie Redmayne.

Marsh will now be directing his gaze on the life of Beckett, the ground-breaking Irish writer. Titled after Beckett’s famous ethos on life “Dance first, think later,” the film is a sweeping account of the life of this icon of 20th-century literature . . .

“Dance First” has been written by BAFTA-winning screenwriter Neil Forsyth (“Guilt,” “Eric, Ernie & Me”) . . .

Marsh said: “ ‘Dance First’ is an imaginative, playful and often poignant account of the life of Samuel Beckett. The film has a bold structure that sees Beckett discussing his life’s mistakes with another version of himself, an antagonistic alter ego. But you don’t need to be a student of Beckett to enjoy this film – the script is both witty and dramatic, focusing on the key relationships in his life and including some startling episodes such as his active involvement in the French Resistance and his near-fatal stabbing by a pimp in Paris. We have Gabriel Byrne attached to play both the mature Beckett and his alter-ego and we expect to build a powerful ensemble cast around him.”

Samuel Beckett

James Marsh, Director

From Pulse Films:

James Marsh is a celebrated writer and director of documentary, narrative feature films, scripted TV and commercials. His illustrious work has has won major film and TV awards including Academy Awards, EMMY’s and BAFTA’s.

His heralded documentary Man on Wire won the Academy Award for Best Documentary, a BAFTA for Best British Film and an Independent Spirit award. His global Box Office hit The Theory of Everything won the best british film BAFTA, marking Marsh’s second win in the category, and Best Actor at the Academy Awards for Eddie Redmayne’s portrayal of Stephen Hawking. The film also went on to win three Golden Globe awards.

In 2015 Marsh directed part of the HBO hit limited series The Night of, starring Riz Ahmed and John Turtorro – and was nominated for an EMMY for his work.

Marsh’s most recent film, The Mercy, with Colin Firth and Rachel Weisz, is released in February 2018. The film tells the true story of Donald Crowhust, an amateur sailor who entered the first race to circumnavigate the globe in 1968.

James Marsh

Neil Forsyth, Writer

Mr. Forsyth alerted us to the happy news on Twitter:

You can learn a lot about what makes this writer special from these interviews he did for the Scottish newspaper The National and the BBC Writers Room, as well as the IMDB entry for him.

Wikipedia tells us this new screenplay is not Mr. Forsyth’s first foray into the world of Beckett:

Forsyth’s Sky Playhouse, Waiting for Andre, concerned the real-life friendship between Samuel Beckett (David Threlfall) and a teenage Andre the Giant (Liam Macdonald). Observer called it a “gorgeous and sumptuous half-hour” and noted it was a “great shame Beckett himself didn’t get to enjoy this delightful slice of life.”.[19] Forsyth was nominated for a 2018 Writer’s Guild Award for Waiting For Andre in the Best Short Form TV Drama category.[20] The series of Playhouses (Urban Myths) was nominated for an International Emmy.[21]

I’m following Neil Forsyth on Twitter now (https://twitter.com/mrneilforsyth) and will share anything Beckettian with you.

Neil Forsyth

Samuel Beckett

Well, one could write a book here, no? Yes! And several books have been written. Here are the best five books about Beckett, according to Five Books (“We ask experts to recommend the five best books in their subject and explain their selection in an interview”). I am amused that the expert here refuses to put what is probably Samuel Beckett’s most well-known play, Waiting for Godot, on his list. I tracked down a free PDF of the play (see below), so if you want to read it, you can. I am and I’m finding it, as always, frustrating, funny, and heart-breaking.

If Beckett is new to you, then you might read the following, from shorter to longer:

A brief Beckett entry at Biography.com

Samuel Beckett’s in-depth entry at the online Encyclopedia Britannica

An exhaustive and detailed report on Samuel Beckett at Wikipedia

Samuel Beckett:
Playwright, novelist, film and theater director, poet, translator, Nobel Prize winner
Portrait of Samuel Beckett at the Dublin Writers Museum
Photograph by Stella, 2014

Beckett Takes a Walk

Fellow Byrneholic Angelle shared this gem from YouTube: Samuel Beckett walking the streets of Berlin the same year in which he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

We decided his walk seems familiar. What do you think?

Waiting for Godot in Downloadable PDF

Stay tuned for more news about this brilliant new project for Gabriel Byrne! heart

Byrne as Beckett–can you see it? I can.
And I can’t wait!

5 Comments

  1. Great news. I will love to see Gabriel Byrne in the role as an Irish writer. In fact he is an Irish writer himself. And as an actor GB is a great artist, like SB was a great writer.

    • They are connected through time. So interesting, to read Gabriel’s latest book and then to read about Samuel Beckett. As Angelle says, he is an inspired choice to play Beckett!

  2. Gabriel Byrne in the roles of Samuel Beckett and his alter ego . Inspired choice !

    “Art has nothing to do with clarity, does not dabble in the clear and does not make clear”
    ― Samuel Beckett

  3. TO FIND A FORM
    THAT
    ACCOMMODATES
    THE MESS, THAT IS
    THE TASK OF THE
    ARTIST NOW.
    Samuel Beckett

    • Yes, Angelle!

      “Dance first. Think later. It’s the natural order.” I like that. I also like “What do I know of man’s destiny? I could tell you more about radishes.”

      From Wikipedia: James Knowlson (Beckett’s chosen biographer) argues that “Beckett was rejecting the Joycean principle that knowing more was a way of creatively understanding the world and controlling it … In future, his work would focus on poverty, failure, exile and loss – as he put it, on man as a ‘non-knower’ . . .” The revelation “has rightly been regarded as a pivotal moment in his entire career”.

      Exile and loss. Familiar themes. It is clear to me why he speaks to our post-modern sensibility. We’ve seen the limits of progress now, and the abuses of knowledge and power.

      This feels like such a natural fit for Gabriel Byrne, doesn’t it? <3

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