Three Questions With All That Fall Director Robert Egan and Actor Annette Miller


Three Questions With All That Fall Director Robert Egan and Actor Annette Miller


Author: Mac MacDaniel

Saturday and Sunday, July 30 and 31, and Saturday and Sunday, August 6 and 7 at Shakespeare & Company the Plays in Process Series presents All That Fall by Samuel Beckett featuring Annette Miller, directed by Robert Egan.

Samuel Beckett’s tragicomic first radio play charts the faltering journey of elderly Maddy Rooney as she ventures along a country road to surprise her blind husband at the train station for his birthday treat. Along the way she meets an array of local characters; some of them friendly, some of them not so much. First broadcast in 1957, All That Fall was the first time Beckett centred his work on a female protagonist. Shakespeare & Company’s Mac Macdaniel sat with actor Annette Miller and Diretor Robert Egan recently, to learn more about this reimagined production of a classic.


S&Co: Tell me about how you’re reimagining this play. All That Fall was written for the radio, but you’re doing it on stage.

Egan: It’s challenging to do a play on stage, where the audience will be able to see it, but that is intended for radio. It’s only intended to be heard. We’re trying to find that happy in-between place where we can celebrate the language and the sounds of the world, and also to do a minimal staging — because we only have 20 hours in the Plays in Process process, so you don’t wanna bite off more than you can chew.

It’s interesting because if you’re doing a radio play, you’re looking at a microphone when you’re playing, so it’ll be interesting to see how much interaction there is between the actors. And it is read, it’s not a memorized piece. We’ll be at music stands like we would be in a music studio with scripts. The big thing is how do we unearth the deep visceral feelings of the play. Beckett is like opera, it’s about language and deep, heightened emotions. Knowing him, and knowing his plays as well as I do, the mistake is to think that he’s goofing humanity or making fun of it. He’s feeling the deep pressures and tectonic movements that we all feel as we move through life.

Miller: Although it was written as a radio play, Beckett specifically wrote that if this play is done visually on a stage, it must be done as a radio play. So in that is a fun process, because the playwright knew in his time that it would be done on a stage as a radio play only. So when you do a radio play on stage, you’re bringing the radio, you’re showing not only the language but what it is to be in a radio place. That’s part of the experiment of what Beckett is doing and what we’re doing. Watching not only how a radio play is done, but how the characters interact on the stage to a microphone to each other to the world. That’s new. That’s part of the experiment.

S&Co: How has the process been thus far?

Miller: We haven’t started rehearsals yet. We’ve just been talking, but it has been wonderful. I’m so grateful to work with Robert on this because Robert actually knew and worked with Beckett, so I feel I’m getting it from the horse’s mouth.

Egan: It takes rare and gifted actors to understand the material and Annette is one of those people because she has a vital, vibrant, vivacious instrument. She can play in a fearless way the highs of human life: love, longing, desire. She can also touch the lows, which is the fragility of human life, mortality, fear. It’s great to work with someone like Annette.

S&Co: What is most exciting to you about this show?

Egan: Beckett’s one of the great playwrights, he conceived most of these plays in the aftermath of World War II, the world was facing enormous challenges, and it seems like we’re back there again. But he celebrates the indomitable spirit of human beings to keep moving on despite the great challenges of life.

Miller: I’m so excited to work on Mrs. Rooney because she’s the life force that we need to keep us going when we don’t have any answers, and not only that, we really don’t even have the questions at this point. She struggles; she knows there are no answers. She’s not a dreamer. She’s going to get to the station and she’s going to meet her husband, and they’re going to keep going even though the going might not be terrific. And even though she doesn’t know where they’re going. She doesn’t have any answers to anything, but she is going on full force, with all the fear and trepidation and not understanding what occurs.

But I’m most excited about working with Robert, and of course the rest of the cast.

Purchase Tickets to All That Fall, appearing at the Tina Packer Playhouse at 1:30 pm, Saturday and Sunday, July 30 and 31, and Saturday and Sunday, August 6 and 7.

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