Melvyn Bragg presents a programme on Irish playwright Samuel Beckett with dramatisations of three of his works - Ghost Trio, ...but the clouds... and Not I. This invaluable resource, which includes contributions from dramatist Martin Esslin and performances by Billie Whitelaw and Ronald Pickup, was created for the BBC as part of The Lively Arts series in 1977.
Both Ghost Trio and ...but the clouds..., originally written for television, receive their world premiere in this fascinating documentary which also explores Beckett’s personal life and work in detail, highlighting his interest in portraying characters who are never quite able to express their emotions.
Ghost Trio is a television play, written in English by Samuel Beckett. It was written in 1975, taped in October 1976 and the first broadcast was on BBC2 on 17 April 1977 as part of the Lively Arts programme Beckett himself entitled Shades. Donald McWhinnie directed (supervised by Beckett) with Ronald Pickup and Billie Whitelaw. The play's original title was to be Tryst. "On Beckett’s notebook, the word was crossed out vigorously and the new title Ghost Trio written next to it. On the title page of the BBC script the same handwritten title change can be found, indicating that it must have been corrected at the very last minute.
... but the clouds ... is a television play by Samuel Beckett. Beckett wrote it between October–November 1976 "to replace a film of Play which the BBC had sent [him] for approval (and which he had rejected)" due to "the poor quality of the film". Donald McWhinnie directed Billie Whitelaw and Ronald Pickup. It was first broadcast on 17 April 1977 as part of a programme of three Beckett plays entitled 'Shades' on BBC2.
Not I is a short dramatic monologue written in 1972 (20 March to 1 April) by Samuel Beckett.
Arguably the definitive performance of the piece albeit in a completely different medium from which it was originally intended. Not I on its own was re-broadcast on 7 February 1990. The British Film Institute database says this is a film of the 1973 Royal Court Theatre performance but it appears this was actually filmed on 13 February 1975 with Billie Whitelaw reprising the role. In this production the Auditor is absent and the camera stays fixed on her mouth, everything else being blacked out with makeup.