Happy Days (play)  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Happy Days is a play in two acts, written in English, by Samuel Beckett. He began the play on 8th October 1960 and it was completed on 14th May 1961. Beckett finished the translation into French by November 1962 but amended the title. “In a moment of inspiration, he borrowed the title Oh les beaux jours, from Verlaine’s poem, ‘Colloque sentimental’”.

Cyril Cusack claimed that Happy Days was, by Beckett’s own admission, ‘influenced’ by his wife, Maureen Cusack’s request that he ‘write a happy play’ after Krapp.

The first production was at the Cherry Lane Theatre, New York on 17th September 1961, directed by Alan Schneider with Ruth White as Winnie (for which she won an Obie) and John C. Becher as Willie. The first London production was at the Royal Court Theatre on 1st November 1962 directed by George Devine and Tony Richardson with Brenda Bruce as Winnie and Peter Duguid as Willie.

When Happy Days was first performed in London there were disagreements about every aspect of the text and production. Even Kenneth Tynan, one of the saviours of Godot, felt that Happy Days was "a metaphor extended beyond its capacity", nevertheless, he admitted Beckett's strange, insinuating power and urged his readers to buy tickets for the play. The Times critic couldn’t understand why Brenda Bruce played the part with a Scottish accent.

It was first published by Grove Press in 1961 followed by Faber in 1962. By this stage in his writing career Beckett was becoming more aware of the importance of revising his work in actual performance and so wrote to Grove Press about Happy Days on 18 May 1961 to advise them that, "I should prefer the text not to appear in any form before production and not in book form until I have seen some rehearsals in London. I can't be definitive without actual work done in the theatre."

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Happy Days (play)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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