Happy Days (Enniskillen): A Portrait Of Beckett

What can you learn about someone from their portrait?

Beckett’s most famous portrait stares out at me from a shop window on Enniskillen’s high street.

When looking at portraits of famous people, it’s always tempting to wonder what they’re thinking. In this case, we can be pretty sure. In 1981, Jane Bown of The Observer was despatched to provide photographs for an interview with Beckett. She agreed to meet him at rehearsals of his production of ‘Happy Days,’ starring Billie Whitelaw – but as she waited, Bown received a note: “I’m terribly sorry, I made a mistake – I can’t stay and have my picture taken.” She immediately leapt to her feet and went out back, laying in wait behind the stage door, and when Beckett passed through she grabbed his arm and insisted he pose for at least a couple of shots, there before the darkness of a passageway behind the Royal Court with the light falling onto his extraordinary face.

So in the most famous portrait of Samuel Beckett, with its quiet, wonderfully jumbled expression of sadness and frustration, repressed anger in every craggy line warring with the compassion in his eyes – well, we can be fairly certain he’s actually thinking, “Oh for God’s sake, just get this over with, I’ve got somewhere to be.”

Sometimes portraits are no help at all.

Read the full story at:

Must Love Festivals: “Happy Days” And No Easy Answers” – Fevered Mutterings.