Samuel Beckett’s Breath on Screen: Damien Hirst’s Adaptation
University of Vienna, Austria
Abstract: The Beckett on Film project, which includes nineteen stage plays, is an indication of how Beckett’s work’s journey from stage to screen can be creative, attractive, and entertaining. As a collaborative work of RTÉ (Raidiό Teilifis Éireann), Channel 4 (the British broadcaster), the Irish Film Board, and Tyrone Productions, the project includes films, ranging from approximately forty-five seconds to two hours. As each of them was assigned to a different director, Beckett on Film offers a chance to explore how individual viewpoints shape the adaptations. This article analyses how Damien Hirst reinterpreted Beckett’s shortest piece Breath. As it consists solely of an inhalation and exhalation, Breath serves as an example of the object voice, as theorised by Jacques Lacan and Mladen Dolar. In filming Breath, Hirst opts for using medical waste to interpret Beckett’s stage with rubbish framed with a breath.
Keywords: Samuel Beckett, Breath, Damien Hirst, Adaptation, Object voice