Read Happy Days Online

Authors: Samuel Beckett

Happy Days

BOOK: Happy Days

Happy Days


Collected Poems in English and French

The Collected Shorter Plays

(All That Fall, Act Without Words I, Act Without Words II, Krapp’s Last Tape, Rough for Theatre I, Rough for Theatre II, Embers, Rough for Radio I, Rough for Radio II, Words and Music, Cascando, Play, Film, The Old Tune, Come and Go, Eh Joe, Breath, Not I, That Time, Footfalls, Ghost Trio, . . . but the clouds . . . , A Piece of Monologue, Rockaby, Ohio Impromptu, Quad, Catastrophe, Nacht and Träume, What Where)

The Complete Short Prose: 1929–1989

(Assumption, Sedendo et Quiescendo, Text, A Case in a Thousand, First Love, The Expelled, The Calmative, The End, Texts for Nothing 1–13, From an Abandoned Work, The Image, All Strange Away, Imagination Dead Imagine, Enough, Ping, Lessness, The Lost Ones, Fizzles 1–8, Heard in the Dark 1, Heard in the Dark 2, One Evening, As the story was told, The Cliff, neither, Stirrings Still, Variations on a “Still” Point,
Faux Départs,
The Capital of the Ruins)

Disjecta: Miscellaneous Writings and a Dramatic Fragment

Endgame and Act Without Words

Ends and Odds

First Love and Other Shorts

Happy Days

How It Is

I Can’t Go On, I’ll Go On: A Samuel Beckett Reader

Krapp’s Last Tape

(All That Fall, Embers, Act Without Words I, Act Without Words II)

Mercier and Camier


More Pricks Than Kicks

(Dante and the Lobster, Fingal, Ding-Dong, A Wet Night, Love and Lethe, Walking Out, What a Misfortune, The Smeraldina’s Billet Doux, Yellow, Draff)


Nohow On

(Company, Ill Seen Ill Said, Worstward Ho)

The Poems, Short Fiction, and Criticism of Samuel Beckett

Rockaby and Other Short Plays

(Rockaby, Ohio Impromptu, All Strange Away, and A Piece of Monologue)

The Selected Works of Samuel Beckett (boxed paperback set)

Volume I: Novels

(Murphy, Watt, Mercier and Camier)

Volume II: Novels

(Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable, How It Is)

Volume III: Dramatic Works

Volume IV: Poems, Short Fiction, Criticism

Stories and Texts for Nothing

(The Expelled, The Calmative, The End, Texts for Nothing 1–13)

Three Novels

(Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable)

Waiting for Godot

Waiting for Godot: A Bilingual Edition


Samuel Beckett

Happy Days

Grove Press

New York

Copyright © 1961 by Samuel Beckett

Copyright renewed © 1989 by the Estate of Samuel Beckett

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in a review. Scanning, uploading, and electronic distribution of this book or the facilitation of such without the permission of the publisher is prohibited. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated. Any member of educational institutions wishing to photocopy part or all of the work for classroom use, or anthology, should send inquiries to Grove/Atlantic, Inc., 841 Broadway, New York, NY 10003 or
[email protected]

: Professionals and amateurs are hereby warned that the plays contained in this volume are subject to a royalty. They are fully protected under the copyright laws of the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and all British Commonwealth countries, and all countries covered by the International Copyright Union, the Pan-American Copyright Convention, and the Universal Copyright Convention. All rights, including professional, amateur, motion picture, recitation, public reading, radio broadcasting, television, video or sound taping, all other forms of mechanical or electronic reproduction, such as information storage and retrieval systems and photocopying, and rights of translation into foreign languages, are strictly reserved.

First-class professional, stock, and amateur applications for permission to perform these works, and those other rights stated above, must be made in advance to: Georges Borchardt, Inc., 136 East 57th Street, New York, NY 10022, and payment of the requisite fee is required whether the play is presented for charity or gain and whether or not admission is charged.

First published in the United States by Grove Press

Design, composition, and textual supervision by Laura Lindgren

Printed in the United States of America


Grove Press

an imprint of Grove/Atlantic, Inc.

154 West 14th Street

New York, NY 10011



12  13  14  15  16    10  9  8  7  6  5  4  3  2  1

Happy Days

The world premiere of
Happy Days
was presented by Theatre 1962 (Messrs. Richard Barr and Clinton Wilder) at the Cherry Lane Theatre, New York, on September 17, 1961, directed by Alan Schneider and designed by William Ritman, with the following cast:

Ruth White
John C. Becher

a woman about fifty

a man about sixty


Expanse of scorched grass rising centre to low mound. Gentle slopes down to front and either side of stage. Back an abrupter fall to stage level. Maximum of simplicity and symmetry.

Blazing light.

Very pompier trompe-l’oeil backcloth to represent unbroken plain and sky receding to meet in far distance.

Imbedded up to above her waist in exact centre of mound, Winnie. About fifty, well preserved, blond for preference, plump, arms and shoulders bare, low bodice, big bosom, pearl necklet. She is discovered sleeping, her arms on the ground before her, her head on her arms. Beside her on ground to her left a capacious black bag, shopping
variety, and to her right a collapsible collapsed parasol, beak of handle emerging from sheath.

To her right and rear, lying asleep on ground, hidden by mound, Willie.

Long pause. A bell rings piercingly, say ten seconds, stops. She does not move. Pause. Bell more piercingly, say five seconds. She wakes. Bell stops. She raises her head, gazes front. Long pause. She straightens up, lays her hands flat on ground, throws back her head and gazes at zenith. Long pause.

gazing at zenith
] Another heavenly day. [
Pause. Head back level, eyes front, pause. She clasps hands to breast, closes eyes. Lips move in inaudible prayer, say ten seconds. Lips still. Hands remain clasped. Low.
] For Jesus Christ sake Amen. [
Eyes open, hands unclasp, return to mound. Pause. She clasps hands to breast again, closes eyes, lips move again in inaudible addendum, say five seconds. Low.
] World without end Amen. [
Eyes open, hands unclasp, return to mound. Pause.
] Begin, Winnie. [
] Begin your day, Winnie. [
Pause. She turns to bag, rummages in it without moving it from its place, brings out toothbrush,
rummages again, brings out flat tube of toothpaste, turns back front, unscrews cap of tube, lays cap on ground, squeezes with difficulty small blob of paste on brush, holds tube in one hand and brushes teeth with other. She turns modestly aside and back to her right to spit out behind mound. In this position her eyes rest on Willie. She spits out. She cranes a little further back and down. Loud.
] Hoo-oo! [
Pause. Louder.
] Hoo-oo! [
Pause. Tender smile as she turns back front, lays down brush.
] Poor Willie—[
examines tube, smile off
]—running out—[
looks for cap
]—ah well—[
finds cap
]—can’t be helped—[
screws on cap
]—just one of those old things—[
lays down tube
]—another of those old things—[
turns towards bag
]—just can’t be cured—[
rummages in bag
]—cannot be cured—[
brings out small mirror, turns back front
]—ah yes—[
inspects teeth in mirror
]—poor dear Willie—[
testing upper front teeth with thumb, indistinctly
]—good Lord!—[
pulling back upper lip to inspect gums, do
]—good God!—[
pulling back corner of mouth, mouth open, do
]—ah well—[
other corner, do
]—no worse—[
abandons inspection, normal speech
]—no better, no worse—[
lays down mirror
]—no change—[
wipes fingers on grass
]—no pain—[
looks for toothbrush
]—hardly any—[
takes up toothbrush
thing that—[
examines handle of brush
]—nothing like it—[
examines handle, reads
]—pure . . . what?—[
lays down brush
]—ah yes—[
turns towards bag
]—poor Willie—[
rummages in bag
]—no zest—[
]—for anything—[
brings out spectacles in case
]—no interest—[
turns back front
]—in life—[
takes spectacles from case
]—poor dear Willie—[
lays down case
]—sleep for ever—[
opens spectacles
]—marvellous gift —[
puts on spectacles
]—nothing to touch it—[
looks for toothbrush
]—in my opinion—[
takes up toothbrush
]—always said so—[
examines handle of brush
]—wish I had it—[
examines handle, reads
]—genuine . . . pure . . . what?—[
lays down brush
]—blind next—[
takes off spectacles
]—ah well—[
lays down spectacles
]—seen enough—[
feels in bodice for handkerchief
]—I suppose—[
takes out folded handkerchief
]—by now—[
shakes out handkerchief
]—what are those wonderful lines—[
wipes one eye
]—woe woe is me—[
wipes the other
]—to see what I see—[
looks for spectacles
]—ah yes—[
takes up spectacles
]—wouldn’t miss it—[
starts polishing spectacles, breathing on lenses
]—or would I?—[
]—holy light—[
]—bob up out of dark—[
]—blaze of hellish light.
Stops polishing, raises face to sky, pause, head back level, resumes polishing, stops polishing, cranes back to her right and down.
] Hoo-oo! [
Pause. Tender smile as she turns back front and resumes polishing. Smile off.
] Marvellous gift—[
stops polishing, lays down spectacles
]—wish I had it—[
folds handkerchief
]—ah well—[
puts handkerchief back in bodice
]—can’t complain—[
looks for spectacles
]—no no—[
takes up spectacles
]—mustn’t complain—[
holds up spectacles, looks through lens
]—so much to be thankful for—[
looks through other lens
]—no pain—[
puts on spectacles
]—hardly any—[
looks for toothbrush
]—wonderful thing that—[
takes up toothbrush
]—nothing like it—[
examines handle of brush
]—slight headache sometimes—[
examines handle, reads
]—guaranteed . . . genuine . . . pure . . . what?—[
looks closer
]—genuine pure . . . —[
takes handkerchief from bodice
]—ah yes—[
shakes out handkerchief
]—occasional mild migraine—[
starts wiping handle of brush
]—it comes—[
]—then goes—[
wiping mechanically
]—ah yes—[
]—many mercies—[
]—great mercies—[
stops wiping, fixed lost gaze, brokenly
]—prayers perhaps not for naught—[
pause, do
]—first thing—[
pause, do
]—last thing—[
head down, resumes wiping, stops wiping, head
up, calmed, wipes eyes, folds handkerchief, puts it back in bodice, examines handle of brush, reads
]—fully guaranteed . . . genuine pure . . . —[
looks closer
]—genuine pure . . . [
Takes off spectacles, lays them and brush down, gazes before her.
] Old things. [
] Old eyes. [
Long pause.
] On, Winnie. [
She casts about her, sees parasol, considers it at length, takes it up and develops from sheath a handle of surprising length. Holding butt of parasol in right hand she cranes back and down to her right to hang over Willie.
] Hoo-oo! [
] Willie! [
] Wonderful gift. [
She strikes down at him with beak of parasol.
] Wish I had it. [
She strikes again. The parasol slips from her grasp and falls behind mound. It is immediately restored to her by Willie’s invisible hand.
] Thank you, dear. [
She transfers parasol to left hand, turns back front and examines right palm.
] Damp. [
Returns parasol to right hand, examines left palm.
] Ah well, no worse. [
Head up, cheerfully.
] No better, no worse, no change. [
Pause. Do.
] No pain. [
Cranes back to look down at Willie, holding parasol by butt as before.
] Don’t go off on me again now dear will you please, I may need you. [
] No hurry, no hurry, just don’t curl up on me again. [
Turns back front, lays down parasol, examines palms together, wipes
them on grass.
] Perhaps a shade off colour just the same. [
Turns to bag, rummages in it, brings out revolver, holds it up, kisses it rapidly, puts it back, rummages, brings out almost empty bottle of red medicine, turns back front, looks for spectacles, puts them on, reads label.
] Loss of spirits . . . lack of keenness . . . want of appetite . . . infants . . . children . . . adults . . . six level . . . tablespoonfuls daily—[
head up, smile
]—the old style!—[
smile off, head down, reads
]—daily . . . before and after . . . meals . . . instantaneous . . . [
looks closer
] . . . improvement. [
Takes off spectacles, lays them down, holds up bottle at arm’s length to see level, unscrews cap, swigs it off head well back, tosses cap and bottle away in Willie’s direction. Sound of breaking glass.
] Ah that’s better! [
Turns to bag, rummages in it, brings out lipstick, turns back front, examines lipstick.
] Running out. [
Looks for spectacles.
] Ah well. [
Puts on spectacles, looks for mirror.
] Musn’t complain. [
Takes up mirror, starts doing lips.
] What is that wonderful line? [
] Oh fleeting joys—[
]—oh something lasting woe. [
Lips. She is interrupted by disturbance from Willie. He is sitting up. She lowers lipstick and mirror and cranes back and down to look at him. Pause. Top back of Willie’s bald head, trickling
blood, rises to view above slope, comes to rest. Winnie pushes up her spectacles. Pause. His hand appears with handkerchief, spreads it on skull, disappears. Pause. The hand appears with boater, club ribbon, settles it on head, rakish angle, disappears. Pause. Winnie cranes a little further back and down.
] Slip on your drawers, dear, before you get singed. [
] No? [
] Oh I see, you still have some of that stuff left. [
] Work it well in, dear. [
] Now the other. [
Pause. She turns back front, gazes before her. Happy expression.
] Oh this is going to be another happy day! [
Pause. Happy expression off. She pulls down spectacles and resumes lips. Willie opens newspaper, hands invisible. Tops of yellow sheets appear on either side of his head. Winnie finishes lips, inspects them in mirror held a little further away.
] Ensign crimson. [
Willie turns page. Winnie lays down lipstick and mirror, turns towards bag.
] Pale flag. [
Willie turns page. Winnie rummages in bag, brings out small ornate brimless hat with crumpled feather, turns back front, straightens hat, smooths feather, raises it towards head, arrests gesture as Willie reads.

His Grace and Most Reverend Father in God Dr. Carolus Hunter dead in tub.


gazing front, hat in hand, tone of fervent reminiscence
] Charlie Hunter! [
] I close my eyes—[
she takes off spectacles and does so, hat in one hand, spectacles in other, Willie turns page
]—and am sitting on his knees again, in the back garden at Borough Green, under the horse-beech. [
Pause. She opens eyes, puts on spectacles, fiddles with hat.
] Oh the happy memories!

Pause. She raises hat towards head, arrests gesture as Willie reads.

Opening for smart youth.

Pause. She raises hat towards head, arrests gesture, takes off spectacles, gazes front, hat in one hand, spectacles in other.

My first ball! [
Long pause.
] My second ball! [
Long pause. Closes eyes.
] My first kiss! [
Pause. Willie turns page. Winnie opens eyes.
] A Mr. Johnson, or Johnston, or perhaps I should say John
Very bushy
moustache, very tawny. [
] Almost ginger! [
] Within a toolshed, though whose I cannot conceive. We had no toolshed and he most certainly had no toolshed. [
Closes eyes.
] I see the piles of pots. [
] The tangles of bast. [
] The shadows deepening among the rafters.

Pause. She opens eyes, puts on spectacles, raises hat towards head, arrests gesture as Willie reads.

Wanted bright boy.

Pause. Winnie puts on hat hurriedly, looks for mirror. Willie turns page. Winnie takes up mirror, inspects hat, lays down mirror, turns towards bag. Paper disappears. Winnie rummages in bag, brings out magnifying-glass, turns back front, looks for toothbrush. Paper reappears, folded, and begins to fan Willie’s face, hand invisible. Winnie takes up toothbrush and examines handle through glass.

Fully guaranteed . . . [
Willie stops fanning
] . . . genuine pure . . . [
Pause. Willie resumes fanning. Winnie looks closer, reads.
] Fully guaranteed . . . [
Willie stops
] . . . genuine pure . . . [
Pause. Willie resumes fanning. Winnie lays down glass and brush, takes handkerchief from bodice, takes off and polishes spectacles, puts on spectacles, looks for glass, takes up and polishes glass, lays down glass, looks for brush, takes up brush and wipes handle, lays down brush, puts handkerchief back in bodice, looks for glass, takes up glass, looks for brush, takes up brush and examines handle through glass.
] Fully guaranteed . . . [
Willie stops fanning
] . . . genuine pure . . . [
pause, Willie resumes fanning
] . . . hog’s [
Willie stops fanning, pause
] . . . setae. [
Pause. Winnie lays down glass and brush, paper disappears, Winnie takes off spectacles, lays them down, gazes front.
] Hog’s setae. [
] That is what I find so wonderful, that not a day goes by—[
]—to speak in the old style—[
smile off
]—hardly a day, without some addition to one’s knowledge however trifling, the addition I mean, provided one takes the pains. [
Willie’s hand reappears with a postcard which he examines close to eyes.
] And if for some strange reason no further pains are possible, why then just close the eyes—[
she does so
]—and wait for the day to come—[
opens eyes
]—the happy day to come when flesh melts at so many degrees and the
night of the moon has so many hundred hours. [
] That is what I find so comforting when I lose heart and envy the brute beast. [
Turning towards Willie.
] I hope you are taking in—[
She sees postcard, bends lower.
] What is that you have there, Willie, may I see? [
She reaches down with hand and Willie hands her card. The hairy forearm appears above slope, raised in gesture of giving, the hand open to take back, and remains in this position till card is returned. Winnie turns back front and examines card.
] Heavens what are they up to! [
She looks for spectacles, puts them on and examines card.
] No but this is just genuine pure filth! [
Examines card.
] Make any nice-minded person want to vomit! [
Impatience of Willie’s fingers. She looks for glass, takes it up and examines card through glass. Long pause.
] What does that creature in the background think he’s doing? [
Looks closer.
] Oh no really! [
Impatience of fingers. Last long look. She lays down glass, takes edge of card between right forefinger and thumb, averts head, takes nose between left forefinger and thumb.
] Pah! [
Drops card.
] Take it away! [
Willie’s arm disappears. His hand reappears immediately, holding card. Winnie takes off spectacles, lays them down, gazes before her. During what follows Willie continues to relish card,
varying angles and distance from his eyes.
] Hog’s setae. [
Puzzled expression.
] What exactly is a hog? [
Pause. Do.
] A sow of course I know, but a hog . . . [
Puzzled expression off.
] Oh well what does it matter, that is what I always say, it will come back, that is what I find so wonderful, all comes back. [
] All? [
] No, not all. [
] No no. [
Smile off.
] Not quite. [
] A part. [
] Floats up, one fine day, out of the blue. [
] That is what I find so wonderful. [
Pause. She turns towards bag. Hand and card disappear. She makes to rummage in bag, arrests gesture.
] No. [
She turns back front. Smile.
] No no. [
Smile off.
] Gently Winnie. [
She gazes front. Willie’s hand reappears, takes off hat, disappears with hat.
] What then? [
Hand reappears, takes handkerchief from skull, disappears with handkerchief. Sharply, as to one not paying attention.
] Winnie! [
Willie bows head out of sight.
] What
the alternative? [
] What
the al—[
Willie blows nose loud and long, head and hands invisible. She turns to look at him. Pause. Head reappears. Pause. Hand reappears with handkerchief, spreads it on skull, disappears. Pause. Hand reappears with boater, settles it on head, rakish angle, disappears. Pause.
] Would I had let you sleep on. [
She turns back front. Intermittent plucking at grass, head
up and down, to animate following.
] Ah yes, if only I could bear to be alone, I mean prattle away with not a soul to hear. [
] Not that I flatter myself you hear much, no Willie, God forbid. [
] Days perhaps when you hear nothing. [
] But days too when you answer. [
] So that I may say at all times, even when you do not answer and perhaps hear nothing, Something of this is being heard, I am not merely talking to myself, that is in the wilderness, a thing I could never bear to do—for any length of time. [
] That is what enables me to go on, go on talking that is. [
] Whereas if you were to die—[
]—to speak in the old style—[
smile off
]—or go away and leave me, then what would I do, what
I do, all day long, I mean between the bell for waking and the bell for sleep? [
] Simply gaze before me with compressed lips. [
Long pause while she does so. No more plucking.
] Not another word as long as I drew breath, nothing to break the silence of this place. [
] Save possibly, now and then, every now and then, a sigh into my looking-glass. [
] Or a brief . . . gale of laughter, should I happen to see the old joke again. [
Pause. Smile appears, broadens and seems
about to culminate in laugh when suddenly replaced by expression of anxiety.
] My hair! [
] Did I brush and comb my hair? [
] I may have done. [
] Normally I do. [
] There is so little one
do. [
] One does it all. [
] All one can. [
] Tis only human. [
] Human nature. [
She begins to inspect mound, looks up.
] Human weakness. [
She resumes inspection of mound, looks up.
] Natural weakness. [
She resumes inspection of mound.
] I see no comb. [
] Nor any hairbrush. [
Looks up. Puzzled expression. She turns to bag, rummages in it.
] The comb is here. [
Back front. Puzzled expression. Back to bag. Rummages.
] The brush is here. [
Back front. Puzzled expression.
] Perhaps I put them back, after use. [
Pause. Do.
] But normally I do not put things back, after use, no, I leave them lying about and put them back all together, at the end of the day. [
] To speak in the old style. [
] The sweet old style. [
Smile off.
] And yet . . . I seem . . . to remember . . . [
Suddenly careless.
] Oh well, what does it matter, that is what I always say, I shall simply brush and comb them later on, purely and simply, I have the whole— [
Pause. Puzzled.
] Them? [
] Or it? [
Brush and comb it?
] Sounds improper somehow.
Pause. Turning a little towards Willie.
] What would you say, Willie? [
Pause. Turning a little further.
] What would you say, Willie, speaking of your hair, them or it? [
] The hair on your head, I mean. [
Pause. Turning a little further.
] The hair on your head, Willie, what would you say speaking of the hair on your head, them or it?

15.4Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

High Crimes by Joseph Finder
Sink: Old Man's Tale by Perrin Briar
The Turning Point by Marie Meyer
Hit and Nun by Peg Cochran
A Woman's Heart by JoAnn Ross
Once Upon a Wish by Rachelle Sparks
Necromancer's Revenge by Emma Faragher