‘Samuel Beckett Experience’ brings bleak brilliance to CSU

Scott Powell

With all the holly jolly holiday cheer and synthetic sing-songy merriment warming the chilly winter air this time of year, it can be easy to forget the fact that one day, you’ll be dead.

man stands on stage
Director Eric Prince performs “Dieppe” during a dress rehearsal for The Beckett Experience on Dec. 2. Prince said that these pieces are rarely performed and working on them has been terrific. (Ryan Schmidt | The Collegian)

It’s true. You’re going to die; I’m going to die; even Santa Claus is going to die. And while it may not be a pleasant thought, it is a fact that carries a deep, sublime calm if properly recognized and understood. 


If you’re in the market for a nice, bleak splash of fatalistic reality or you are simply looking to purge some pent-up end of semester despair, the Colorado State University theatre department has you covered with their latest production: “The Beckett Experience: Four Times/Times Four,” an evening celebrating the life and work of the stage’s favorite Debbie Downer, Samuel Beckett.

The show itself is no laughing matter though, or it is, but only in the most serious sense of the word. It’s a stark and striking recital of the greatest, most absurd joke ever told, life itself, as told through Beckett’s brilliantly skewed poetic voice. And while this may not seem appealing to the average show-going Joe, its nihilistic tone shouldn’t deter one from experiencing this once-in-a-lifetime theatrical event.

“The Beckett Experience: Four Times/ Times Four” will be performed at the University Center for the Arts on Dec. 5-7 at 7:30 P.M. and Dec. 8 at 2 P.M.

“These are not conventional, happy, entertaining (plays),” said Eric Prince, the show’s director and one of the state’s foremost experts on Beckett’s work. “Sometimes it’s worth getting to know the dark side of (people) as well. The dark side has something to teach us.”

Featuring a cast made up of CSU students, professional actors and Prince himself, the production consists of four short plays written in Beckett’s later years. Prince refers to these pieces as the “ghost plays” due to their especially abstract, minimalist nature.

This is the latest offering from the school’s Center for Studies in Beckett and Performance, an organization started by Prince and his colleagues in the early 2000s as a means of sharing Beckett’s work and preserving an understanding of and appreciation for his influence among the CSU community. 

CSU’s Center for Studies in Beckett is one of the only organizations of its kind in the western region of the country and is a primary authority on Beckett’s work and legacy in the state.

The show may be bleak, but it isn’t lacking in depth or substance. It’s an expertly crafted exposé of perhaps one of history’s most difficult, complex and rewarding playwrights, and it promises to be a theatrical experience just as unique, intense and inimitable as Beckett himself.

Scotty Powell can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @scottysseus.