How It Is Symposium 2019 at Crawford Art Gallery, Cork, Ireland

Keynote Speakers Lois Oppenheim and Anthony Cordingley, 
panel speakers; Tom Creed, Gerry Dukes, Gareth Evans, Fergal Gaynor, Judy Hegarty Lovett, Sarah Jane Scaife, Hannah Simpson, Derval Tubridy and Feargal Whelan.

Scroll down to learn more…

Conor Lovett in How It Is (Part 1) by Samuel Beckett, photo by Ros Kavanagh.

Conor Lovett in How It Is (Part 1) by Samuel Beckett, photo by Ros Kavanagh.


in association with Cork Midsummer Festival

and Crawford Art Gallery present

How It Is by Samuel Beckett Symposium 2019

Crawford Art Gallery, Emmet Place, Cork - 14th June 2019

‘words my truant guides with you strange journeys’ How It Is

Gare St Lazare’s second How It Is Symposium brings together people from different countries and fields to speak about this remarkable novel, How It Is by Samuel Beckett. Our goal is to generate discussion and interest around How It Is while hearing the views, research and insights of scholars, academics, artists and writers from different backgrounds. This year the program includes speakers from Australia, Ireland, UK and USA. Thanks for joining us and thanks to all our speakers from near and far for accepting our invitation.

We are very grateful to Cork Midsummer Festival, Crawford Art Gallery and The Imperial Hotel Cork for their generous support of our second symposium.

Work in Progress Performance at 7pm.

The Symposium will be followed at 7pm by a work-in-progress performance of Gare St Lazare’s forthcoming production How it Is (Part 2) by Samuel Beckett with Stephen Dillane and Conor lovett and directed by Judy Hegarty Lovett.


9.30 - 10 Registration.

10-11 Keynote 1 - Lois Oppenheim. On a Clear Day…: Seeing How It Is

11-11.15 Coffee break.

11.15 - 1pm Panel 1.

Hannah Simpson. How What Where: Body on the Page, Body on the Stage,

Gerry Dukes. WHO SPEAKS ? Noun and pronoun instability in the mud of How It Is.

Fergal Gaynor. 'When the panting stops': breath and breathing in Beckett and How It Is.

Lunch - 1-2pm

2 - 3pm Keynote 2 Anthony Cordingley. “The genesis of How It Is: Insights from the Beckett Digital Manuscripts Project.”

3-3.15 Coffee break.

3.15 - 5pm, Panel 2.

Gareth Evans. How Is It… That… Major Themes and Other Such Trifles.

Derval Tubridy Intermediality, Installation, Performance : How It Is with Samuel Beckett and Gare St. Lazare Ireland

Feargal Whelan.‘Suddenly another image’: The lyrical in the grotesque in How It Is

5- 5.15 Coffee break.

5.15 - 6.30 - Practitioner Panel - Adaptation from Page to Stage ( Speakers : Judy Hegarty Lovett , Sarah Jane Scaife and Tom Creed. —- Break

7- 7.40 pm Work in Progress performance of How It Is (Part 2) with Conor Lovett and Stephen Dillane. Library / Lecture Theatre.



Lois Oppenheim - On a Clear Day…: Seeing How It Is

How It Is implies the existence of something, an “It” being as it is — and how. But what renders “It” as it is? What accounts for the how? Seeing is a principle motif in Beckett’s work and the answers reside therein. But being seen, even by oneself, adds a significant layer, especially in How It Is. An analogy with the what and how of looking at the painting of Agnes Martin appears to offer some clues and will frame this presentation.

Lois Oppenheim, Ph.D. is University Distinguished Scholar, Professor of French, and Chair of the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures at Montclair State University.  She is the author or editor of fourteen books, the most recent being For Want of Ambiguity: Order and Chaos in Art, Psychoanalysis, and Neuroscience (co-authored with Dr. Ludovica Lumer; Bloomsbury, 2019), Psychoanalysis and the Artistic Endeavor: Conversations with Literary and Visual Artists (Routledge, 2015), and Imagination from Fantasy to Delusion (Routledge, 2013), awarded the Courage to Dream Prize from the American Psychoanalytic Association. Other books include A Curious Intimacy: Art and Neuro-Psychoanalysis and The Painted Word: Samuel Beckett's Dialogue With Art.  En Compagnie de Samuel Beckett / In the Company of Samuel Beckett, a bilingual volume edited by Dr. Oppenheim and translated by Geneviève Chevallier, will be published in Fall 2019 by Passage(s) in honor of the 50 years since Beckett’s Nobel Prize and in commemoration of the 30 years since his death.

Keynote 2

Anthony Cordingley - The genesis of How It Is: Insights from the Beckett Digital Manuscripts Project.

On the cover of the first French edition of Beckett’s Comment c’est (1961), under the title appeared the word roman. Yet the pages within contain a writing unrecognisable within the French novelistic tradition. Beckett’s last piece of extended prose had precursors in English, in the writing of James Joyce, Gertrude Stein and other modernists, yet it resembles nothing other than itself. Drawing on my forthcoming digital genetic edition of the French and English versions of the text for the Beckett Digital Manuscripts Project (, in this talk I will chart the genesis of Beckett’s “novel” by referring to a succession of unpublished manuscripts and typescripts that attest to the evolution of one the strangest and most beautiful prose experiments of the twentieth century.

Anthony Cordingley is a member of the editorial board of Samuel Beckett Today / Aujourd’hui and author of Samuel Beckett’s How It Is: Philosophy in Translation (Edinburgh UP, 2018). His current projects include a monograph on Beckett and education and the Comment c’est/How It Is module of the Beckett Digital Manuscripts Project. He specialises in modernist and contemporary literature, translation and multilingualism, and has edited Self-translation: brokering originality in hybrid culture (Bloomsbury 2013), Collaborative Translation: from the Renaissance to the Digital Age (Bloomsbury 2016) and the 2015 issue of Linguistica Antverpiensia, “Towards a Genetics of Translation”. His chapter on “Beckett and Translation” will appear in The Oxford Handbook of Samuel Beckett.

Hannah Simpson - How What Where: Body on the Page, Body on the Stage

There are striking similarities between the manner in which Samuel Beckett’s 1961 prose text How It Is and his 1983 stage play What Where present - or rather, refuse to present - physical pain. This paper compares how Beckett positions bodily suffering as a limit point for communication between self and other, across both the prose and theatre mediums. On the basis of this reading of physical pain as a stark reinforcement of intercorporeal alterity - rather than a point of self-other coalescence as it has been more commonly interpreted in How It Is scholarship- we will end by considering how Gare St Lazare's upcoming stage adaptation of Part Two of How It Is fits (or might fit) within this framework.

Hannah Simpson is a final-year PhD student in the English Faculty at the University of Oxford. Her dissertation focuses on the representation of physical pain and disability in post-war Francophone theatre, with a focus on the work of Samuel Beckett. She has published most recently in Samuel Beckett Today/Aujourd'hui, the Journal of Modern Literature, Comparative Drama, Theatre Topics, and Etudes irlandaises, and has chapters forthcoming in Beckett and Pop Culture and Beckett beyond the Normal. She is also the Theatre Review Editor for The Beckett Circle.

Gerry Dukes - WHO SPEAKS ? Noun and pronoun instability in the mud of How It Is.

The narrative arc of HOW IT IS is formulable in specific terms - “before Pim with Pim after Pim” - or in generalized terms - “the journey the couple the abandon.” There is even a heroic attempt in Part 3 to formulate and capture it in statistical terms. But finally all is dismissed as “all balls.” But who dismisses it all?

Gerry Dukes is a former academic and Research Fellow. He has edited and annotated Beckett’s post-war novellas - First Love and Other Novellas - and wrote a biography - Illustrated Lives: Samuel Beckett - both published by Penguin. He contributed all the essays on Beckett’s stage plays to The Columbia Encyclopedia of Modern Drama (2 vols., eds. Cody and Sprinchorn, Columbia University Press, New York 2007).  With the actor Barry McGovern he constructed the script for Barry’s one-man Beckett show I’LL  GO ON which premiered at the Gate Theatre in 1985.

Fergal Gaynor - ‘When the panting stops': breath and breathing in Beckett and How It Is.

This series of thoughts on the juncture of bodily life and the verbal, in Beckett's work in general and in 'How It Is' in particular, was sparked off by a remark made by Conor Lovett when, in a pubtime conversation on the subject of unpunctuated texts, he mentioned that their performance was not so difficult once one 'knew where to breathe'. In Beckett's work, in its realisation through reading, acting or declamation, and sporadically as a matter of content, the traditional etymological connotations of 'meaningful breath' - as suspiration, expiration, aspiration, etc. - are bound up with an intimate struggle between abject bodily existence and language as a kind of botched theodicy. 

Fergal Gaynor is a poet, critic and co-editor since 2010 of the art magazine Enclave Review. After completing a PhD in 2001 he worked with the art group Art / Not Art, co-curating the Cork Caucus for the European Capital of Culture 2005, among other activities. From 2006 until its end in 2017 he was closely associated with the festival of modernist and avant-garde poetry, SoundEye.

Gareth Evans - How Is It… That… Major Themes and Other Such Trifles

In which the protagonist - tentatively known as the 'speaker' but more accurately described as the 'imposter' - aided by Enrique Vila-Matas and various fellow travellers considers dates, first editions, a little music, other people's work and matters large but mostly small, in his attempt to explain why he has been invited to present…

Gareth Evans is a London-based writer, editor, film and event producer and Whitechapel Gallery’s Adjunct Moving Image Curator. He is co-curator of Porto's Forum of the Future, Cinema Qamar in Jordan, Estuary, Flipside and First Light Festivals, Swedenborg Film Festival and Whitstable Biennale. He has produced the feature length essay films Patience (After Sebald),, Erase and Forget, World Without End, Unseen, By Our Selves and In Time: an Archive Life. He curated the festivals PLACE at Aldeburgh Music, Utopia 2016 at Somerset House, ‘John Berger: Here Is Where We Meet’ and ‘All Power to the Imagination! 1968 and its Legacies’, among many others. He edited the international moving image magazine Vertigo from 2002 – 2009. He is Chair of the Longplayer Trust.

Derval Tubridy - Intermediality, Installation, Performance : How It Is with Samuel Beckett and Gare St. Lazare Ireland

The intermedial nature of Beckett’s corpus, and his innovative engagement with avant garde media, are significant determining factors that explain Beckett’s position as a key figure and a vital force for contemporary artists. Taking Patrick Ireland/Brian O’Doherty as an exemplar of intermediality, the paper examines O’Doherty’s performance installations Hello, Sam (2011), and Hello Sam, (Redux) (2016) and the latter’s instantiation within music theatre through Gare St. Lazare’s Here All Night (2016). The paper explores this theme through a reading of Tania Brugheria’s installation performance Endgame (2017)–developing from her earlier Endgame Study # 7 (2006)–demonstrating how Brugheria’s work operates for the viewer as a chromatic counterpoint to Miroslav Balka’s sculptural installation How it is (2009). The paper concludes with an analysis of Gare St. Lazare Ireland’s site specific performance installation of Beckett’s novel How It Is, Parts I and II at the Everyman Theatre, Cork (2018, 2019) to argue for the centrality of multi-medial and inter-medial operations within contemporary art practice while demonstrating that these contexts are vital for contemporary readings of Beckett.

Derval Tubridy is Senior Lecturer in Literature and Visual Culture at Goldsmiths, University of London. Her research focuses on the intersection between language, materiality and performance in with a particular emphasis on Samuel Beckett and contemporary art. She has given papers at Tate Modern, the Whitechapel Gallery, the Institute for Contemporary Art, London, (ICA) and the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) and has published widely on Beckett and art. Her recent monograph––Samuel Beckett and the Language of Subjectivity––came out with Cambridge University Press in 2018. An artist and writer, she is a member of MART Studios, Dublin, and exhibits in London and Dublin.

Feargal Whelan - ‘Suddenly another image’: The lyrical in the grotesque in How It Is

The harshness and frequent repulsiveness of the imagery in How It Is is punctuated by moments of Beckett’s most lyrical writing, almost always describing remembered incidents from his youth, a technique which he returns to at various points in his oeuvre, most notably in Company. This paper will examine where some of these passages occur and try to account for their appearance and their function, and will also address how they impact on the performed narrative. As an intertextual reference, notice will be drawn to Roger Casement’s Amazon Journal, the humanitarian report on the Putamayo rubber industry, which Beckett was reading while composing How It Is.

Feargal Whelan is a post-doctoral research associate at the Centre for Beckett Studies, Trinity College Dublin. He has published and presented widely on Beckett and on twentieth century Irish drama and his monograph Beckett and the Irish Protestant Imagination is forthcoming from ibidem-verlag. He is a director of the Samuel Beckett Summer School at TCD and is editor of The Beckett Circle.

Staging the prose. 3 Irish theatre practitioners discuss their experience of staging Beckett’s prose. Judy Hegarty Lovett, Sarah Jane Scaife and Tom Creed

Judy Hegarty Lovett

Judy has a degree in Fine Art from the Crawford College of Art & Design (Cork) and a postgraduate degree in Dramatherapy from the University of Hertfordshire, she trained in theatre with Philippe Gaulier in London and is currently a final-year PhD student at the Reading University, researching Gare St Lazare’s staging of Beckett’s prose.
Having joined the original Gare St Lazare Players in Paris in 1991as a directing assistant to artistic director Bob Meyer, in 1996 she directed Conor Lovett in Molloy by Samuel Beckett in London and so began Gare St Lazare Ireland. She has since directed 20 Beckett titles including Waiting for Godot, Rockaby, The Beckett Trilogy - (Molloy, Malone Dies & The Unnamable), Lessness, Enough, Texts For Nothing, Worstward Ho, All That Fall, Embers, Cascando, Words and Music, The Old Tune by Robert Pinget (translated by Samuel Beckett), Rough For Radio 1 & 2, First Love, The Calmative and The End, How It Is (Part 1) and the musical collaborative creation, Here all Night. Othe work includes Copenhagen by Michael Frayn (Rubicon Theater, California - LA Times Critics Pick, 2015), Title and Deed by Will Eno (a Kilkenny Arts Festival/GSL coproduction with Signature Theatre NYC), Moby Dick (adapted by Judy with Conor Lovett), Swallow by Michael Harding, Tanks a Lot (co-written by Judy Hegarty Lovett and Raymond Keane for Calypso) and The Good Thief by Conor McPherson for GSL. Judy’s work has toured to over 60 venues in Ireland and to over 80 cities around the world and she has received awards and nominations in London, Boston, New York, Santa Barbara, Dublin, Kiel and Shanghai.

Sarah Jane Scaife.

Sarah Jane is Artistic Director of Company SJ. She is Assistant Professor Trinity College Dublin and she researches and directs Beckett nationally (Ireland) and internationally (London, New York, Greece, India, Malaysia, Singapore, China, Mongolia, Japan, America and Georgia). Company SJ has just recently presented their acclaimed version of Samuel Beckett’s Company for the Dublin Theatre Festival 2018, this version will tour in 2020. Company SJ are currently touring their Beckett in the City series of work, which includes: Beckett in the City: Rough For Theatre I and Act Without Words II, Beckett in the City: Fizzles and Beckett in the City: The Women Speak. Sarah Jane has worked on the translation into Mandarin of Marina Carr’s By the Bog of Cats… and published through the press of BFSU, she is currently negotiating its production in Guangzhou for 2020. She has conducted many projects in several higher education institutions in both China and Singapore.

Tom Creed

Tom is a theatre and opera director based in Dublin. His stagings of Watt by Samuel Beckett with acclaimed Irish actor Barry McGovern have been presented at the Dublin Theatre Festival, Galway Arts Festival, Edinburgh International Festival, Melbourne International Arts Festival, Perth International Festival, the Barbican Centre in London, the Public Theatre in New York and on tour in the USA. He has directed for The Abbey Theatre, Gate Theatre, Rough Magic, Thisispopbaby, his own company Playgroup and a range of independent Irish companies, in Ireland, the UK, Europe and the USA. He was a Best Director nominee at the Irish Times Theatre Awards in 2007.

Opera productions include The Tales of Hoffmann with Irish National Opera, Acis and Galatea, Susanna’s Secret and The Human Voice with Opera Theatre Company, Britten’s Owen Wingrave with the Paris Opera and Opera Collective Ireland, and world premieres of Donnacha Dennehy’s The Hunger (Opera Theatre of St Louis and Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York), Annelies van Parys’s Private View (Muziektheater Transparant at Opera Vlaanderen, Operadagen Rotterdam, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Grand Théâtre de Luxembourg and on tour), and Jürgen Simpson’s air india [redacted] (Turning Point Ensemble, Vancouver). Tom was Festival Director of Cork Midsummer Festival from 2011 to 2013, and was nominated for an Irish Times Irish Theatre Award in 2012 "for original and dynamic use of local spaces at Cork Midsummer Festival". He has previously been Theatre and Dance Curator of Kilkenny Arts Festival and Associate Director of Rough Magic Theatre Company.

Upcoming productions include Ray Scannell’s The Bluffer’s Guide to Suburbia at Cork Midsummer Festival, Donnacha Dennehy’s The Hunger at the Abbey Theatre and Vivaldi’s Griselda with Irish National Opera.

Thanks to Maura O’Keeffe, Lismore Castle Gallery and Amber Deasy.

Special Thanks to Flynn Hotels Ireland and The Imperial Hotel Cork for their kind support and ongoing commitment to Gare St Lazare Ireland. Special thanks also to Amber Deasy for assisting today and to Gare St Lazare’s Associate Producer, Maura O’Keeffe and all at The Everyman Cork.

Gare St Lazare Ireland are in receipt of Arts Council Funding towards their production of How It Is (Part 2). The company also receives generous funding from Vermont Coffee Company and enjoyed 15 years of regular sponsorship from Flynn Hotels.

How It Is (Part 2) will premiere at The Everyman September 3 - 7 2019 in a co-production with Gare St Lazare and The Coronet Theatre (UK) in association with The Everyman.

Directed and designed by Judy Hegarty Lovett

Music composed by Mel Mercier with The Irish Gamelan Orchestra.

Performed by Stephen Dillane and Conor Lovett.

Music performed by Mel Mercier, The Irish Gamelan Orchestra featuring guest artists Mark Padmore, Nick Roth and Claudia Schwab.

Produced by Maura O’Keeffe

Funded by The Arts Council.

Booking via The Everyman website or Box Office.