“Ill Seen Ill Said”: Staging a Beckett Text

This course explores Beckett’s prose writings, specifically the novel Ill Seen Ill Said, challenging students to find myriad ways to dramatize a work that wasn’t initially meant for the stage. The course provides a unique opportunity to work with an acclaimed Beckett actress and a leading Irish theater critic to understand Beckett’s writing, his theater, and the process of making performance. Students will stretch both their analytical and creative selves as they unearth performance possibilities in Beckett’s prose.

Sample reading list:
Beckett, Ill Seen Ill Said
Beckett, Not I
Beckett, Play
Beckett, Footfalls
Beckett, Eh Joe

Reading/Writing assignments:
Students will read Samuel Beckett’s work on a weekly basis and engage in class discussions about how Beckett wrote his works, created copious stage directions for them and how he worked with his actresses, Billie Whitelaw and Lisa Dwan. Students will have the opportunity to practice reading Beckett’s Ill Seen Ill Said and performing parts. The final project will be student performances.

Prerequisites and Restrictions:
Students interested in the writing of Samuel Beckett and exposure to the performance techniques for his work are encouraged to apply. The course provides a unique opportunity to work with Lisa Dwan, an acclaimed Beckett actress and Fintan O’Toole, a leading Irish theater critic to explore a major Beckett work. Please contact Bob Sandberg at rsand@princeton.edu for permission to enroll..

Fintan O’Toole, one of Ireland’s leading public intellectuals, is a theatre critic and scholar. He also contributes to The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, The Guardian, and other international publications. The Observer named O’Toole one of “Britain’s top 300 intellectuals” in 2011.

Lisa Dwan’s performances of Samuel Beckett’s works have met with critical acclaim and have sold out at venues from London’s Royal Court Theatre to New York’s Brooklyn Academy of Music.


Lisa Dwan

Visiting Lecturer in the Council of the Humanities and English



Wednesdays, 1:30 - 4:20 pm