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Samuel Beckett «What Where»
Samuel Beckett, «What Where», 1986
Photograph: I. MacLean | ©

Samuel Beckett «What Where»Samuel Beckett «What Where»Samuel Beckett «What Where»Samuel Beckett «What Where»Samuel Beckett «What Where»

Categories: Television

Keywords: Voice | Surveillance


 Samuel Beckett
«What Where»

Time passes. That's all.
Samuel Beckett

Of the series of minimalist experimental TV plays Beckett wrote and directed in the 1980s for the broadcaster Süddeutscher Rundfunk, ‘What Where' (written in 1983) is the only one with dialogue and culminates a process of progressively reduced movement. A production note at the front of the script has the heading ‘Process of Elimination'. Elimination, that is, of colour, visual, light and sound effects, with an unchanging black background. The static black-and-white image, which is composed of a large head (invariably blurred), the narrator and ‘I', and three smaller heads, cyclically varies a voiceover narrative structure (subdivided into four sections with the reference points spring, summer, autumn and winter), and visualizes this as the presence and absence of visuals/speaker and sound. The variations are conceived as poles of aggregate states: ‘I turn on' and ‘I turn off' as textual examples, and the fading in and out of the face as visual example. The only movement of the actors Bam (‘I'), Bom, Bim, Bem takes place through the opening and closing of their eyes or mouths.


Rudolf Frieling