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Audio Interview with actress Tanja Jacobs on playing Winnie in Beckett’s Happy Days

Now Photo By Steve Payne

"Tanja Jacobs is a well known actress, director, teacher and coach. She has worked in the professional theatre since 1981, and performed at most major theatres in Canada. She has been nominated for ten Dora Mavor Moore Awards and has won twice.  As a director, her credits include 1002 Nights, Johann's Cabinet of Wonders, Goddess, and Mid-Life Crisis . On television, besides her role as federal employee SM3 Sexsmith on Power Play, Jacobs guest starred on many Canadian shows including Ready or Not and Street Legal. Film credits include "Trial by Jury" and "Loser"." She recently finished a run at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa as Winnie in Samuel Beckett's Happy Days directed by Leah Cherniak.

Happy Days, written in 1961, observes determined human optimism in the face of a universe without meaning. Winnie, Beckett’s "hopeful futilitarian" is buried up to her waist in the earth, woken and summoned to bed each day by the same disembodied bell. Throughout the days, she performs a series of carefully observed rituals all related to the contents of a worn, old black purse. She combs her hair, applies lipstick, painstakingly examines a toothbrush, toys with a nail file, a tube of toothpaste and a revolver, all the while chattering at her inattentive companion, Willie. Hopeless yet hopeful; bleak yet funny, Happy Days is Beckett’s "testament to the resourcefulness of the human spirit"

Tanja and I talk here about playing Winnie, the difficulty of working at cliff's edge without a narrative, talking, doing nothing and the need for communication and attention, loneliness, mid-life marriages, revolvers, supportive fellow actors, the quality of attachment and mirroring, the imperative to carry on, suffering and the avoidance of and surrendering to pain in front of an audience, revisiting moments of terror and fright and aloneness and the agony of doing this as someone who has been abandoned, the unbearable parts of being human, and how the use of simple descriptives can generate profound distilled moments, poems of events.

To start off with I quote V.S. Pritchett on Beckett. Read the quote here.

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