Ohio impromptu, genre and Beckett on film

Dowd, Garin (2006) Ohio impromptu, genre and Beckett on film. In: Genre Matters: Essays in Theory and Criticism. Intellect Books, Bristol, UK, pp. 69-84. ISBN 1841501077

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Samuel Beckett’s choice of the title Ohio Impromptu to name the play first performed to an audience
of academics and scholars at Columbus Ohio in 1981 is one manifestation of its author’s interest in
the question of literary genre; more generally, in Beckett’s dramatic works one encounters a
meticulous attention to the activity of categorisation, even if the energy is often directed toward the
creation of phantom genres for spectral exemplars. This essay concerns itself with Ohio Impromptu in
particular because by means of elements specific to this play (including the context in which it was
first performed) it comments upon its own very failure to occupy its designated genre co-ordinates
(these include its identity both as a play and as an ‘impromptu’). This play, which is so apt to
incorporate other genres, however, is presided over by a stage direction which locates it firmly in
the theatrical context. It is in its deliberate failure to attend to this stage direction that the Beckett
on Film version of the play goes beyond the mere treacherous fidelity that is inevitably a feature of
any adaptation. In arguing this, the essay analyses the foregrounding in the play of questions that can
be said to pertain to genre (in several senses). Its more specific intention is to suggest that, via a
combination of casting and special effects, the adaptation succeeds not only in cancelling the critical
reflection on the ‘genre gesture’ that is lodged in Ohio Impromptu, but also in eradicating the very
disjunction between Reader and Listener upon which the play depends.

Item Type: Book Section
Subjects: Film and television
Depositing User: Garin Dowd
Date Deposited: 24 Mar 2015 20:32
Last Modified: 12 May 2017 14:54
URI: http://repository.uwl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1006


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