Posted by Babs Melville
Ok, so Edinburgh is bustling with Fringe shows just now, but we wanted to make some noise about Krapp’s Last Tape by Samuel Beckett. As a one act play – about a writer no less – it shares sensibilities with spoken word. With this in mind, we’ve arranged for Illicit Ink attendees and blog readers to get 2 for 1 tickets (the code for this is at the end of our interview). Thank you to AR Fringe for this treat, and also to actor Tom Owen, famed for Last of the Summer Wine, for sharing his thoughts on performing Beckett.
Every year since he was 24, Krapp (a would-be writer) has recorded his impressions of the previous year and catalogued the resulting tape’s number and contents in a ledger which he keeps locked in his desk. We meet him on his 69th birthday as he listens to a tape from 30 years ago, talking back to a recorded younger self he rather resents now. Bananas and alcohol abound in this one man show about ambition, sacrifice and growing old.
Have you performed at the Fringe before?
I’ve never performed at the Fringe before, though I attended five years ago to watch my youngest son William in a show.
What are you looking forward to the most?
As an actor you should never stop learning. Performing such a wonderful play at the world’s greatest arts festival is a great opportunity.
How do you expect a Fringe audience to experience Beckett differently from a regular theatre audience?
Samuel Beckett isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. His works need a great deal of concentration and can sometimes be quite dark. However, he is one of the greatest playwrights of the modern era and has a huge following. A Beckett audience can expect to see and hear great writing.
How do you plan on spending your time in Edinburgh when you aren’t working?
Now the show is up and running, I want to see some of the wealth of talent that’s in Edinburgh. We’re also in the process of organising a national tour of Krapp’s Last Tape so we’re going to be pretty busy.
Why did you choose this specific play for your performance?
I didn’t choose it. A very good friend of mine did. I was in Last of the Summer Wine for eleven years. I enjoyed every moment but when it ended my friend said that I needed to stretch myself as an actor and suggested Krapp’s Last Tape. I knew nothing about Beckett but with Fiona’s encouragement and wonderful direction, I began to understand the magnificent writing. I hope I do it justice.
How do the working conditions of the Fringe differ from other working conditions you’ve experienced?
Where do I start? There’s little time between shows. Everything works (and sometimes doesnt !) on a wing and a prayer. It’s organised chaos – how it all works, I have no idea! Tommy Sheppard and Edinburgh City Council have made the Assembly Rooms a great venue and, in spite of the chaos, it’s a huge privilege to play here.
Tom Owen (Last of the Summer Wine) stars in Krapp’s Last Tape in Studio 2, The Assembly Rooms, George Street 3 – 26 August (except 13th) at 2.45pm. To claim 2 for 1 tickets, call the Assembly Rooms Box Office on 0844 693 3008 quoting the code IllicitInkBeckett. One pair per person, subject to availability.