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WORSTWARD HO

Kate Herbert

'Worstward Ho is a must if you love Beckett'

Theatre Matters

'you may just find the sublime.'

Stage Whispers

What Did She Think

'Here is a phenomenon you may never see again in your lifetime so cherish it.'

The Age

'This challenging solo work will haunt and galvanise'

'truly impressive, and truly moving.'

'Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.'

Australian Book Review

'he makes it look effortless'

Writer: Samuel Beckett
Actor: Robert Meldrum
Director: Richard Murphet
Lighting Design: Richard Murphet

Producer: Matthew Connell
Producer assist: Jak Scanlon
Photographer/Flimmaker: Chelsea Neate

On. Say on. Somehow on . Till all at last is gone.

The Australian premiere of Samuel Beckett’s final major piece of writing, Worstward Ho. Widely recognised as ‘one of the supreme poetic texts of the 20th century,’ it is, however, little known, rarely read and even more rarely presented. It is vital that we give this classic its due attention, infusing it with new life, revealing its critical relevance for our times. The solo performer, Rob Meldrum, has been a treasured figure in Melbourne theatre for 5 decades, and this will be an ambitious artistic challenge for him, tackling a text so complex, so desperate, so revolutionary and so urgent. Daily news constantly reminds us that our human race is at a critical watershed moment. We are urged to change our ways of inhabiting this world, lest we tip our planet and its life-forms over the edge of extinction. The enemies to this necessary shift are the forces of greed, power, misleading rhetoric and the constant accumulation of material possessions. In Worstward Ho, we watch an individual like ourselves facing up to these dark forces, tackling the task of shedding all elements and words unnecessary to the sheer continuation of life. He displays a moving, determined, often hilarious, absolutely essential commitment. In its unrelenting need to keep gnawing at the problem, Worstward Ho often has a crazed state about it, bordering on a kind of psychotic heroism. However, it is never glum or self-important. There is a refreshing lightness of tone, a kind of dry humour and a refusal to indulge in emotionality or spectacle. In his very normal daily setting, a man thinks aloud while constantly pacing his room. Worstward Ho is truly a parable for our times.

24 May - 3 June, 2023
At Explosives Factory

St Kilda

Wed 24 May 7:30pm (Preview)
Thu 25 May 7:30pm (Opening)
Fri 26 May 7:30pm
Sat 27 May 7:30pm

Tue 30 May 7:30pm
Wed 31 May 7:30pm
Thu 1 June 7:30pm (Q&A)
Fri 2 June 7:30pm
Sat 3 June 7:30pm

Full price $45.00
Concession $35.00
Preview $28.00
Mob Tix $20.00

      Theatre Works: Explosives Factory.
Address: Rear Laneway 67 Inkerman Street, St Kilda.

This venue is not wheelchair accessible.
This is a lockout event.
Public Transport: 3/67/96 Tram.
Parking: Street.

Richard Murphet / Director

Richard has been writing, directing and creating contemporary forms of theatre for 5 decades. His plays have received productions throughout Australia and internationally, and he has worked as a director in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Toronto, New York, Amsterdam, Utrecht and Ghent. His plays include: Quick Death (1979), Slow Love (1983), Dolores and the Department Store (1999), The Inhabited Woman (2003), The Inhabited Man (2009), The Darkening Sky (2019) Recent Productions include: A double bill of Quick Death and Slow Love (La Mama, 2015); a double bill of two Belgian plays, Four Men and Dog Play (Elvis Peeters: La Mama, 2017); In the Solitude of Cotton Fields (B-M Koltes: La Mama, 2019); Broken River (Tony Reck: La Mama, 2019), and The Darkening Sky (Murphet: Theatre Works, 2021). He will direct Julius Caesar for Melbourne Shakespeare Company in August. Murphet worked at the Victorian College of the Arts for 2 decades where he was Head of Drama (2007-2009) and Head of Postgraduate Studies (1996 – 2006). He was a member of the Australian Performing Group, and the Artistic Director of the Mill Theatre Company. He was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award for his work in theatre at the Australian Greenroom Awards (2017). His book on Late-Modernist theatre practice, Acts of Resistance, was published by Brill Publications, Amsterdam in 2020.

Director's Note

Worstward Ho appeared in publication in 1983: it was its 40th anniversary just a few weeks ago. Also, in 1983, the literary critic Al Alvarez wrote about How It Is, another of Beckett’s tricky texts: “... despite its formidable appearance the work is always coherent, once the reader has laboriously tuned in to its difficult wave length. Even at its most disintegrated, when the shattered syntax is scarcely that of the gasp, there is a kind of clenched lucidity about Beckett’s writing that somehow justifies one’s efforts. … With patience and concentration, the reader need never be at a loss. The difficulties are all public and resolvable.” Of course, it has been our aim in presenting Worstward Ho, whose difficult wave-length we have been patiently decoding for ourselves for over 3 years, to bring to you its hard-won coherence and lucidity. But, at the same time we do not want to avoid its ‘clenchedness.’ Here is a man, on his own, grappling with the task of thinking about central, existential questions. But it is not in the resolution of those questions that the fascination of the text lies. It is in the task of thinking itself: its dis/integration, its shatteredness. In our private moments, we don’t think like logicians write: our thinking breaks into unexpected detours, obsessive repetitions, moments of wry humour, deep emotion etc. It is in this way that the gems of revelation arise – if indeed they do. The little sparkle, hid in ashes, the precious margaret hid from many, and the thing that the conversationalist, with his contempt of the tag and ready-made, can’t give you because the lift to the high spot is precisely from the tag and the ready-made. The same with the stylist. You couldn’t experience a margarita because he denies you the pebbles and flints that reveal it. The uniform, horizontal writing flowing without accidence, of the man with a style, never gives you the margarita. (Beckett on Writing) This is a prose text; but Beckett is always the most physical of writers. One of our guides in putting it into action has been this passage from Deirdre Bair’s biography of Samuel Beckett: Bill Beckett bought an automobile that year, a Swift, and Beckett drove it around Trinity very badly but with enormous style. He shifted gears with sweeping, dramatic arm movements, and involved his entire torso in negotiating turns. He made blowing the horn a musical art and parking was an exercise in dance and mathematics with an occasional fillip from the latest Mack Sennett comedy. Dance, mathematics and the occasional fillip – welcome to Worstward Ho.

Robert Meldrum / Actor

Rob Meldrum has been working as an actor, director and lecturer in acting and voice for over 45 years. He was originally a member of the Australian Performing Group for 6 years at the Pram Factory in Melbourne, where he performed in Dimboola, The Floating World, River Jordan, Mary Shelley and the Monsters, The Hills Family Show, Back to Bourke St. During this time, and under the umbrella of the APG he co-formed Stasis an experimental theatre group who performed to popular and critical acclaim The Young Peer Gynt. Since that time, he has performed with all the major State Theatre Companies in shows including: The Tempest, Scenes From an Execution for South Australian Theatre Company; Miss Julie, She Stoops to Conquer, The Island for Melbourne Theatre Company; The Misanthrope, Woman in Mind, The Three Sisters for Sydney Theatre Company; Brittanicus, Antony and Cleopatra, Speaking in Tongues for Playbox Theatre Company. He has been nominated three times for best actor in the Green Room Awards, and won the award in 1998 as part of Best Ensemble. He was a member of the Bell Shakespeare Ensemble for two years where he performed in five productions: Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra, Hamlet, Richard 111 and As You Like It. More recently he performed in the highly acclaimed four seasons of L’Amante Anglaise at La Mama and Forty-Five Downstairs (which toured nationally in 2019); and recently for La Mama in Four Men, The Chairs, In the Solitude of Cotton Fields. He was a lecturer in acting at the Drama School VCA for 8 years, is currently the voice teacher for Brave Studios, and sessional lecturer in acting with the National Theatre Drama School. Among other commitments he has a private practice as a vocal and acting coach and has recorded over 25 audio books for Bolinda Publishing.

RObert Meldrum Headshot.png
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