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Rare performance of Beckett's iconic 'Not I' to be performed at Reading – University of Reading

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Rare performance of Beckett's iconic 'Not I' to be performed at Reading

Release Date 22 April 2013

theatre space in Minghella building

Theatre lovers have a wonderful opportunity to see Samuel Beckett's iconic work ‘Not I' performed in the University of Reading's stunning Minghella Building this week.

On the evenings of the 26 and 27 April, celebrated actress Lisa Dwan will play the role of Mouth in one of the most inspiring and challenging pieces in theatre history. Attendees will also have the unique chance to see Beckett's original ‘Not I' manuscript; usually stored in the University's Beckett Archive, it will be on display during both nights.

It is 40 years since the premiere of ‘Not I' at the Royal Court Theatre in London, which featured Beckett's muse, Billie Whitelaw in a groundbreaking performance. ‘Not I' is a short dramatic monologue (c.10mins) that takes place completely in the dark illuminated only by a single beam of light. This fixes on the actress's mouth above the stage, everything else being blacked out.

Lisa Dwan formed a close friendship with Billie Whitelaw after she coached her for the role of Mouth which she first played in 2005. Critics have praised her ‘thrilling and technically astounding interpretation of the play', with the Guardian calling Lisa's performance ‘jawdropping'.

Following ‘Not I' the audience will watch a fascinating 10 minute documentary film featuring an interview with Billie Whitelaw. Lisa will then explore the challenges of playing Mouth during a Q&A session.

This production is part of a series of events celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Beckett International Foundation at the University of Reading, a charitable trust set up by Professor James Knowlson (Beckett's Biographer) and Samuel Beckett  in 1988.

Dr Mark Nixon, Director of the Beckett International Foundation, said: ""It will be a privilege to welcome Lisa Dwan to the University of Reading to perform ‘Not I'. This play is rarely staged due to its technical difficulties and the demands it puts on the actress performing the role."

Dr John Gibbs, Head of the University's Department of Film, Theatre and Television, added: "The Minghella Building, the Department's new £11 million state of the art home is a fitting venue for what promises to be a memorable evening."

The University of Reading has a rich cultural heritage, from fine art to film and music to museums. This summer the University will be celebrating its arts and cultural links and expertise through a series of special events to be announced soon.

The Beckett International Foundation at the University of Reading will present Lisa Dwan in Samuel Beckett's ‘Not I' on 26 and 27 April 2013. The performances are ticket only (£10/£8 concessions) and begin at 7.30pm.

More information and ticket bookings


For all media enquiries please contact James Barr, University of Reading Press Officer on 0118 378 7115 or by email on

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Notes for Editors

The Beckett International Foundation at the University of Reading, a charitable trust set up by James Knowlson and Samuel Beckett in 1988. The Foundation fosters the work of Samuel Beckett and administers the Beckett Archive, the largest collection of material pertaining to the Nobel Prize winning author. The late Anthony Minghella, a patron of the Foundation, named Reading's Beckett Archive as one of the ‘best-kept arts secrets in Britain' (The Observer, 17 September 2006).

The Department of Film, Theatre & Television is a dynamic and creative department which has been leading its field for over four decades. It pioneered the teaching of film studies in British Higher Education, and has an established world-leading reputation.

In the last research assessment (2008), 90% of its research was scored as being of world-leading or internationally-excellent quality. Its strong research environment enables it to deliver one of the most exciting, innovative and unique courses on offer in the UK.


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