Modern and Contemporary Drama

Rockaby and Not I
Not I and Rockaby are later work by Beckett, written and staged some considerable time after Waiting for Godot. However, many of the latter’s themes including the absurd tragedy of human life in the modern era are reworked with ever greater condensation and minimalism. In Not I, a speaking mouth seeks to recompose itself as a subject – an ‘I’ – after some sort of collapse. Rockaby is a monologue spoken by a prematurely aged woman sitting in a rocking chair. Shannon Jackson describes watching and waiting for something to happen, for something ‘to unfold in time’, which is what theatre does. The spectator is out of sync with the rocking and the pre-recorded speaking performer. Temporality becomes content, the old woman approaches the end, and the experience evoked is the theatrical event

• What particular challenges do Not I and Rockaby pose for the actor and the audience?
• Describe the interplay between speaking and moving, hearing and seeing in the plays.
• What does the female voice have to say in these plays?
• How do Jackson and Shalson differ in their responses to Rockaby?