Department of Theatre and Dance gives ‘Breath’ to Samuel Beckett’s classics

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From Oct. 26 to 28, the Rowan Department of Theater & Dance presented “Breath: A Festival of Samuel Beckett Shorts and Prose.” This play includes eight smaller pieces by Samuel Beckett, all weaved into one. The story touches on Beckett’s absurdist, minimalist and existential ideas that show the honest reality of life. The concept of a breath, which in itself contains a birth and a death, is echoed throughout the eight separate pieces.

“I was so impressed,” said class of 2018 alumna Shannon Harkins. “The text is really lofty, so you don’t really totally know what’s going on the whole time, so I feel like they created this world that there are specific rules to but you kind of figure them out as you’re watching.”

She believes that the actors, many of whom she attended Rowan with, were an integral part of bringing the story to life.

“I’ve known these people for years and it’s the best I’ve seen of all of them,” Harkins said.

Beckett, an Irish author, won a Nobel Prize for literature for his previous work of “Waiting For Godot,” which Rowan had also previously featured on its stage. However, performing “Breath” was a very different experience even for actors who had been involved in both.

“We didn’t expect this,” said Aidan McDonald, a sophomore theater major. “It’s a festival of plays. We were like, ‘oh, it’s going to be our normal thing. We’re going to learn lines, put it up.’ No, it’s a lot more involved.”

Though the performance was a difficult one to prepare for, many of those involved feel as though they had grown from their struggle.

“I left a better, [more] strong-willed performer,” McDonald said. “I can literally take anything and make a point out of it.”

Although this may not be the straightforward play that most viewers were expecting, many of the actors believe that viewers might getting something more out of its unconventionality.

“They’re timeless. There’s so much going on right now where we don’t really have the time to listen to what’s really going on in our lives, and just get out of the monotony of [the] day to day,” McDonald said.

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