HAPPY DAYS!
by Samuel Beckett


 
   

directed by serge noyelle
with marion coutris, noël vergès

Created in Marseille, théâtre NoNo May 16th – June 8th 2013

« A great showing of Beckett in Marseille. It's mainly through Marion Coutris's rendition of Winnie that everything changes. In contrast to her predecessors, she's a vivid, lively, energetic and clear-headed woman. This lends to hearing the entire text unravel in memories and emotions with a full vibrato. It becomes a fighting song, a moment of extraordinary clarity where formerly there had only been the mind's darkness. A marvel!
Gilles Costaz WT.

« A stirring Winnie at NoNo Theatre, Marion Coutris gives real intensity to the character. The phrasing and rhythm she uses to build the monologue retain all the mystery and ambiguity of this beautiful (and difficult) text whilst giving it great fluidity. Her words fly like butterflies, underlining despair without emphasizing it. Her sunny disposition prevents her from being engulfed by peculiar feelings. She adds a touch of fascinating madness to the part (...). All the aspects of her personality blend in perfectly with this daring palette. »
Olga Bibiloni La Provence.

« Outrageous liberty and uncluttered picture. Marion Coutris tackles the text with a particular intonation, strange at first but very quickly taking the measure of Beckett's particular score. Astonished by the presence of this voice, engraved in the soul, and the lack of theatricality in Beckett's fiction, between silences, repetitions, brief vocal spurts, almost suspenseful...we are quickly bewitched by her mastery of changing tones, from softness to solemnity, from madness to sensuality, from excitement to ecstasy. In this agonizing play where just like in real life you get back on stage day after day, Marion Coutris and Serge Noyelle bring a very personal and atonal virtuosity by taking Beckett's meticulous writing from precision to purity, and from the spectacular to the intimate. »
Gil Chauveau La revue du spectacle.

« With the same freedom with which Winnie awaits her disappearance, the actress adjusts her voice -- tenuous, rough, sensual, high-pitched -- reciting the (fake) monologue slowly, stretching the words and filling the silences, sometimes giving a timely push on the clutch or modulating the pulse to move deeper in between the lines of the text. »
Marie Godfrin-Guidicelli Zibeline.

« A totally desperate play indeed, but blazing like a haïku. Serge Noyelle's stage set is visually very powerful. And Marion Coutris, playing Winnie, lifts her parasol, grabs her big black handbag and narrates, digresses, hesitates, as if she waere already far away. She hails her companion endlessly, expressing a love all the more pathetic that, alas, forgetfulness and destruction have gnawed away at completely. If the syntax and grammar highlight the overwhelming deconstruction of the text, the timing will emphasize the musical coherence of the performance. Comfortably seated on deck chairs, the audience contemplate the stage and hear a shredded prose, dream about this parable of existential nonsense. »
Pierre Corcos Verso.

« The director has staged 'Oh les beaux jours' like a minimalist painting, confronting the main elements of self-representation. Love and solitude. Regret and ignorance. Marion Coutris plays the part of Winnie with deep detachment but implicates her personality so much that it's almost disturbing. From her pedestal, her monologue creates instant intimacy with the audience. (...) a bubbling of elations and separations. Marion Coutris brings a corpse digested by the earth out of oblivion. Linking tragedy with poetry, a curtesy bow enhances the actress' performance. »
Philippe Delhumeau La Théâtrothèque.

About Happy Days

We witness, incredulous, a woman's slow disappearance, who in spite of being swallowed by the earth, is unfettered by melancholy to tell us about Life. And this is done with a comical agility. A kind of grotesque grace. Full of brilliance and happy desperation.
In "Oh les beaux jours" Winnie is certainly Beckett's feminine counterpart, his theatrical double. An awkward and constrained body expressing itself nonetheless in a free speech. Telling only about herself, emptying out her thoughts in bits and pieces.
Both comical and tragic, Winnie, a puppet at the top of a hill, a material girl in the true meaning of the word, strives to fill her day with insignificant and vital achievements.
Words and silences write a haunting musical score. A kind of trance.

Context

In 1961, Samuel Beckett (En attendant Godot, Fin de partie, Acte sans paroles, La dernière bande) created veritable mayhem in the world of theater in Paris, London, New York and Berlin when he wrote Happy Days (translated into French in 1963 with the title Oh les beaux jours).

From that moment on, theater no longer needed to tell a story, to make its characters realistic; it could simply stage the human condition and thereby suggest that humankind is mainly made up of words and sentences, of questions that invent a very personal journey into the heart of a forever strange cosmogony in which a being faces his inner self and the assaults of reality, the nihilism of material and innocence, the joy of being part of the world and the pain of living intertwined, inseparable.

These dislocated sayings always hit the spot because Beckett's language never indulges in compromise, softness or arrogance; these broken up words become essential, they fascinate and resonate and devour space and time, weaving a large canvas and becoming a sort of soundboard for one's imagination.
The play was staged by Roger Blin and starred Madeleine Renaud. The play had immediate success and was considered to be controversial. The role of Winnie has remained the actress's most significant role.