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“Beckett has shown me that sentimentality isn’t truthful” by Lisa Dwan

A guest post by Beckett Trilogy performer Lisa Dwan




I can’t afford to scrimp. I can’t select the off-cuts of feelings. I can’t regurgitate last night’s order; it must be the meat itself. I must summon the very weapons that will cut it fresh. I can’t offer up a dose of the “sads” or an intellectualized memory. I can’t chicken out here and become sentimental. Beckett has shown me that sentimentality isn’t truthful—it is the languageof gangsters.


One of the gifts of the sensory deprivation in Not I is that I don’t even feel like a human
being half the time up there, and that’s liberating. As a woman, to have your body removed is one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever known. I get to play a consciousness, a trillion voices, not one consciousness but consciousness itself, a continent of consciousness.


Who’s going to want all that from me?


We tend to view ourselves and our world in bite-sized chunks, what we think we can cope with. I get to peel away the trappings and entrapment of a woman, of what society does to us as women. I get to go beyond the limitations we set ourselves, the little palatable realities shaped by our fears.


Beckett blows all that up and offers instead the most enormous landscape imaginable. His women are much more than characters—they are more elemental than that, more like creatures. Beckett has exposed me to my own potential; he exposes all of us to our own potential.


The truths he tells and the picture of us he puts before us strip away false comforts. They are deeply challenging, but these plays make a very adult space for us all to sit with our fragility together and look at ourselves, to see his creatures and ourselves as slices of the universe.



Lisa Dwan performs Not I / Footfalls / Rockaby MAR 16 – 20 in The Paramount Center, Downtown Boston. 

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