Anthology Theatre, in association with Riverside Studios, today announces full cast and creatives for the 60th anniversary production of Samuel Beckett’s masterpiece Happy Days, directed by Trevor Nunn. Simon Wolfe plays Willie, joining the previously announced Lisa Dwan as Winnie. Completing the creative team are designer Robert Jones (Fiddler on the Roof, Quiz), lighting designer Tim Mitchell (Upstart Crow, Kinky Boots), sound designer Johnny Edwards (Moorcroft), production manager Matt Towell (Waitress, Come From Away), and costume supervisor Kate Hemstock (The Full Monty, We Will Rock You).
The production opens on 17 June at Riverside Studios, where the playwright rehearsed Endgame in 1980 and Waiting for Godot in 1984, with previews from 11 June, and running until 25 July 2021.
‘Nothing more to say, nothing more to do’
Winnie and her husband Willie are stuck in every sense of the word. Endless days and nights pass by while they struggle on, with only each other for company.
Samuel Beckett’s world-renowned play Happy Days comes to the Riverside Studios in a landmark 60th anniversary production. Brought to you by a multi-award-winning creative team, with direction from Trevor Nunn and starring ‘Beckett interpreter of the first rank’ (Observer) Lisa Dwan as our heroine Winnie, this is a spirited and triumphant revival most pertinent for our unparalleled times.
Winnie takes comfort in the monotony of her existence, passing the time by completing routine tasks, her blithe and buoyant manner allowing her to believe ‘another happy day’ is occurring. But ritual and a sunny disposition can only keep Winnie’s head above the parapet for so long, before the futility of her and Willie’s existence threatens to engulf her completely.
This enduring, potent, and lively tale of existential limbo presents a playful, but poignant look, at human strength and survival amidst the most surreal of circumstances.
This brand-new production of Beckett’s two hander will be staged in a Covid safe environment following government advice and adhering to current social distancing guidelines.
Happy Days marks the first production from recently relaunched Anthology Theatre Productions. With a long history of investment and co-production, Anthology Theatre has repositioned itself as a full-scale production company, producing and managing its own work under newly appointed Managing Director & Executive Producer, Lil Lambley.
Samuel Beckett (1906 – 1989) was an Irish writer, dramatist and poet. He wrote in both English and French, and his principal works for the stage also include Endgame, Krapp’s Last Tape and Waiting for Godot. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1969.
Lisa Dwan is an award-winning Irish performer, director, writer, and scholar. Having originally trained in the UK as a ballet dancer—dancing with Rudolf Nureyev in Coppelia and with The London Lewis Ballet Company—she began acting professionally in her teens. She has since worked extensively in theatre, film, and television, both internationally and in her native Ireland. Hailed by Ben Brantley in the New York Times as “the nonpareil interpreter of Samuel Beckett”, Dwan is best known for her critically acclaimed one-woman performances of Beckett’s plays, including The Beckett Trilogy & No’s Knife, both of which have sold out across the globe. She was recently in BBC TV series Bloodlands, and is continuing in her role as Lizzie in the new season of Netflix’s Top Boy – in a part written especially for her by acclaimed BAFTA winning writer, Ronan Bennett and produced by the Canadian rap artist Drake. Over the past two years, and as part of her project series of rewriting the Greek classics for women, Dwan has worked closely with Colm Tóibín to create a new version of Pale Sister which had its world première in November 2019, recorded for Audible 2020, and was filmed by the BBC in Spring 2021. Continuing this series, she has recently begun collaborating with Margaret Atwood on a new translation of Medea to be directed by Robert Lepage, and with Salman Rushdie, who is writing an adaption of Helen of Troy especially for her. Other recent theatre includes The Lover & The Collection (STC in Washington DC – 2019 Emery Battis award for outstanding contribution to acting), world premières of Studio Creole and American Standard (The Forum Theatre, New York), The Lover & The Collection, Pale Sister (Gate Theatre), Anna Karenina (Abbey Theatre Dublin), No’s Knife’ (The Old Vic), Margot, Diary of an Unhappy Queen (Barbican), The Journey Between Us (Southwark Playhouse), Illusions (Bush Theatre), Not I (Royal Court Theatre), and Beside the Sea (Southbank Centre). Her screenwork includes as Anna Livia Plurabelle in Suzanne Lopez’s film adaptation of James Joyce’s ‘Finnegan’s Wake’, Wake the Streets, Trust, An Afterthought and Disney’s Oliver Twist. Dwan writes, presents, and lectures regularly on theatre, culture and Beckett for various publications including BBC Radio and Television; as well as lecturing both in the UK and US, where recently she took up the position of long-term visiting professor at Princeton University. Her book A Body of Beckett will be published by Virago Books (UK) in 2021. She is also contributor to the recently published Vision For Europe Hay Festival Press and En Compagnie de Beckett / In The Company of Beckett published by Passages.
Simon Wolfe plays Willie. His previous theatre credits include Dublin Carol (Sherman Theatre), The Weir (Tobacco Factory), War Horse (National Theatre), Orpheus Descending (Royal Exchange Manchester), Punk Rock (Lyric Hammersmith, Royal Exchange Manchester, UK tour), Vermillion Dream (Salisbury Playhouse), One Minute (Sheffield Theatres, Bush Theatre), Great Expectations (Bristol Old Vic), As the Beast Sleeps (Tricycle Theatre), and Force of Change (Royal Court Theatre). His television credits include We Hunt Together, Carnival Row, Coming Up, and The Catherine Tate Show.
From 1968 to 1986, Trevor Nunn was the youngest ever Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, directing over thirty productions, including most of the Shakespeare canon, as well as Nicholas Nickleby and Les Misérables. From 1997 to 2003, he was Artistic Director of the National Theatre, where his productions included Troilus and Cressida, Oklahoma!, The Merchant of Venice, Summerfolk, My Fair Lady, A Streetcar Named Desire, Anything Goes and Love’s Labour’s Lost. He has directed the world premières of Tom Stoppard’s plays Arcadia, The Coast of Utopia and Rock n Roll; and of Cats, Sunset Boulevard, Starlight Express and Aspects of Love by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Other theatre includes Timon of Athens, Skellig (Young Vic); The Lady From The Sea (Almeida Theatre); Hamlet, Richard II, Inherit the Wind (The Old Vic), A Little Night Music (Menier Chocolate Factory, West End and Broadway), Fiddler on the Roof (Menier Chocolate Factory and Playhouse Theatre), Cyrano de Bergerac, Kiss Me Kate (Chichester Festival Theatre); Heartbreak House, Flare Path, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, The Tempest (Theatre Royal, Haymarket); Scenes from a Marriage (Coventry & St James), All That Fall (Jermyn Street & New York); A Chorus of Disapproval and Relative Values (West End). Work for television includes Antony and Cleopatra, The Comedy of Errors, Macbeth, Three Sisters, Othello, The Merchant of Venice and King Lear, and on film, Hedda, Lady Jane and Twelfth Night.