The waiting is over for Samuel Beckett enthusiasts

Date: 04/12/2002

An academic from the University of Western Sydney's Blacktown campus has played an integral role in putting together one of the largest humanities conferences ever to be held in Australia.

Kellyville resident, Dr Anthony Uhlmann from the University's School of Humanities, says more than 130 speakers from Australia and abroad will attend the four-day Samuel Beckett Symposium from January 6-9, as part of this year's Sydney Festival.

"Samuel Beckett is widely considered to be one of the most influential playwrights and novelists of the twentieth century. He wrote for diverse media, including plays and novels, poems, radio and television plays and short films," Dr Uhlmann says.

"Some of the world's leading authorities on the Nobel Prize-winning Irish novelist and playwright will discuss Beckett's lasting influence on the fields of theatre, writing and philosophy.

"They include H. Porter Abbott, Mary Bryden, Bruno Clement, Steven Connor, Colin Duckworth, Gerry Dukes, Stan Gontarski, Peggy Phelan and Mariko Tanaka."

Dr Uhlmann says the presence of another speaker, Ruby Cohn, will be especially poignant.

"Ms Cohn was a close friend of Beckett, and saw the very first performance of his classic Waiting for Godot in Paris on January 5, 1953. This Symposium will mark the 50th anniversary of that performance.

"She's written several leading books about Beckett, and it's an honour to have her in attendance.

"Another of our confirmed dignitaries, Professor Herbert Blau, is one of the world's leading theatre practitioners," Dr Uhlmann says.

"He introduced the works of Samuel Beckett to prison inmates at California's San Quentin prison, directing a performance of Waiting for Godot in 1957. The inmates were so taken with the play that some even formed their own touring theatre company upon their release from jail.

"Professor Blau will join noted French feminist philosopher Luce Irigaray (via satellite from France) and dual Booker Prize-winning novelist J.M. Coetzee in a public lecture on Samuel Beckett at the Sydney Town Hall on January 8, 2003," he says.

In addition to the Symposium and public lecture, the Sydney Theatre Company and Company B Belvoir will stage performances of two of Beckett's best-known works, Endgame and Waiting for Godot as part of the Sydney Festival.

"The Sydney Festival program gives the public a once in a life-time opportunity to learn more about the man who brought a new dimension to writing and theatre, and his legacy to the arts," Dr Uhlmann says.

Tickets for the public lecture are available through Ticketek on 02-9266 4826, while tickets for the Symposium (including day rates) can be purchased through the conference website:

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