ABSTRACT

Starting from Simone Weil's association between the involvement of the faculty of attention and prayer, this article explores the relation between spirituality and performance through the analysis of performer's work on Samuel Beckett, focusing in particular on the sense of the act of praying in the text Happy Days. First, it considers some contributions of performers engaged in playing Beckett that underlines the essential role of attention in the execution of a complex dramatic composition. Second, the essay focuses on the consequences of such work on the level of the bodily presence and how the body could physically be active while actually being “absent” or in conditions of restraint. This brings evidence to a special quality of the performer's work and form of embodiment that, according to Eugenio Barba, is familiar to the Asian techniques of theatre and, for Jerzy Grotowski, could be defined with the metaphoric expression “carnal prayer.”

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