Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Happy Days

Manuscripts | Publications | Productions | Reviews


figures 13, 14, 15, 16

Happy Days was first performed at the Cherry Lane Theatre in Greenwich Village on 17 September 1961. After attending a preview, George Reavey wrote to Beckett: “It sings in the memory, auricular and visual.” He sent him his reactions—“white hot”—to which Beckett replied on 22 September that, while interested in Reavey’s thoughts about the work, he himself could not articulate what compelled him to write the work. To try to spell it out would have prevented him from creating it at all.

Reavey, after his third visit to Happy Days, wrote again: “. . . a beautiful performance. Ruth White was really in her element and the lines came over with precision and feeling. The house was packed, and the applause high. . . . I laughed in a number of places as I had also done in Fin de partie, although some people here are too frightened to laugh. . . . They are all so depressed that they . . . say they don’t want to be depressed any more and think your plays depressing, thus missing all the wit and humour.”

In February and again in June 1962, Beckett wrote to Reavey about his plans to go to London for rehearsals of Happy Days, scheduled to open at the Royal Court on 11 October with Joan Plowright as Winnie. But by the time the play opened, on 1 November, the role of Winnie had been given to Brenda Bruce, Joan Plowright having become pregnant.

The French version—Oh les beaux jours—was previewed at the 22nd International Festival of Prose Drama in Venice on 28 September 1963 and opened in Paris at the Odéon-Théâtre de France on 15 November.