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Endgame (play)

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Written by
Samuel Beckett

First performance
April 1957


Place premiered
Royal Court Theatre


Hamm Clov Nagg Nell

Samuel Beckett

Original language
French language

Endgame (play) t3gstaticcomimagesqtbnANd9GcSZU9UdFI1ZZySfq7

Date premiered
3 April 1957 (1957-04-03)

Samuel Beckett plays, Theatre of the Absurd plays, Other plays

Endgame beckett

Endgame, by Samuel Beckett, is a one-act play with four characters. It was originally written in French (entitled Fin de partie); Beckett himself translated it into English. The play was first performed in a French-language production at the Royal Court Theatre in London, opening on 3 April 1957. It is commonly considered, along with such works as Waiting for Godot, to be among Beckett's most important works.


Samuel beckett endgame part 9


  • Hammunable to stand and blind
  • ClovHamm's servant; unable to sit. Taken in by Hamm as a child.
  • NaggHamm's father; has no legs and lives in a dustbin.
  • NellHamm's mother; has no legs and lives in a dustbin next to Nagg.
  • Synopsis and Interpretation

    The main character, Hamm, behaves badly. At the end, he is alone in an apparently depopulated world.

    The English title is taken from the last part of a chess game, when there are very few pieces left (the French title applies to games besides chess and Beckett lamented the fact that there was no precise English equivalent); Beckett himself was an avid chess player.

    In the Paris Review article "Exorcising Beckett", Lawrence Shainberg claims that according to Beckett the characters' names signify the following: Hamm for Hammer, Clov for clou (the French for nail), Nagg for nagel (the German for nail), and Nell because of its resemblance to the death knell of the deceased.

    In his article, Developmental Psychology Re-discovered: Negative Identity and Ego Integrity vs. Despair in Samuel Beckett's Endgame, Cakirtas claims that Beckett's characters have contradictory and ambivalent relationships with each other. They are in search for their identity through their inner thoughts’ interaction with the external world—the world of ‘existence and non-existence’. They are in necessity for ‘trust’ and the relatedness between age and ego. Although these efforts are attempts to cover prospective contingency, the negativity of the past responds to the brokenness of the same life, in the same breath. Flashbacks turn identity search inside out, and the feeling of 'self-integrity versus despair' gains intensity in the process of old age. Needs vary from childhood to old age; accordingly, the reaction-based inferences relieve not only the ontological existence of the characters, but also their mental and spiritual beings. These reaction-based inferences lead sometimes to identity distortion, and sometimes bodily/physical depressions, and sometimes spiritual meltdowns; so, Beckett refers to the vital skills of the characters/ in modern/post-modern world order.

    Production history

    The play was premiered on 3 April 1957 at the Royal Court Theatre, London, directed by Roger Blin, who also played Hamm; Jean Martin was Clov, Georges Adet was Nagg and Christine Tsingos was Nell. In the early 1960s, an English language production produced by Philippe Staib and, directed by Beckett himself with Patrick Magee and Jack MacGowran was staged at the Studio des Champs-Elysees, Paris. Other early productions were those at the Cherry Lane Theatre, New York, 28 January 1958, directed by Alan Schneider with Lester Rawlins as Hamm and Alvin Epstein together with Gerald Hiken playing Clov; and at the Royal Court directed by George Devine who also played Hamm, with Jack MacGowran as Clov.

    After the Paris production, Beckett himself directed two other productions of the play: at the Schiller Theater Werkstatt, Berlin, 26 September 1967, with Ernst Schröder as Hamm and Horst Bollmann as Clov; and at the Riverside Studios, London, May 1980 with Rick Cluchey as Hamm and Bud Thorpe as Clov.

    In 1984, JoAnne Akalaitis directed the play at the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The production featured music from Philip Glass and was set in a derelict subway tunnel. Grove Press, the owner of Beckett's work, took legal action against the theatre. The issue was settled out of court through the agreement of an insert into the program, part of which was written by Beckett himself:

    Any production of Endgame which ignores my stage directions is completely unacceptable to me. My play requires an empty room and two small windows. The American Repertory Theater production which dismisses my directions is a complete parody of the play as conceived by me. Anybody who cares for the work couldn't fail to be disgusted by this.

    In 2005, Tony Roberts starred as Hamm in a revival directed by Charlotte Moore at the Irish Repertory Theater in New York City with Alvin Epstein as Nagg, Adam Heller as Clov and Kathryn Grody as Nell.

    In 2008 there was a brief revival staged at the Brooklyn Academy of Music starring John Turturro as Hamm, Max Casella as Clov, Alvin Epstein as Nagg and Elaine Stritch as Nell. New York theatre veteran Andrei Belgrader directed, replacing originally sought Sam Mendes at the helm of the production.

    The British theatre company Complicite staged the play in London's West End with Mark Rylance as Hamm and Simon McBurney (who also directed the production) as Clov. The production also featured Tom Hickey as Nagg and Miriam Margolyes as Nell. The production opened on 2 October 2009 at the Duchess Theatre. Tim Hatley designed the set.

    In 2010, Steppenwolf Theatre Company staged Endgame. It was directed by Frank Galati and starred Ian Barford as Clov, William Petersen as Hamm, Francis Guinan as Nagg, and Martha Lavey as Nell. James Schuette was responsible for set and scenic sesign.

    In 2015, two of Australia's major state theatre companies will stage the play. For Sydney Theatre Company, Andrew Upton will direct the production, featuring Hugo Weaving as Hamm and for Melbourne Theatre Company, Colin Friels will star in a production directed by Sam Strong and designed by visual artist Callum Morton.

    In 2016, Coronation Street actors David Neilson and Chris Gascoyne starred in a staging of the play at both the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow and HOME in Manchester.


    Endgame (play) Wikipedia