100

Preview: Why Not Theatre presents Samuel Beckett’s ‘Happy Days’

The work of Samuel Beckett is both profound and confounding. His oeuvre of absurdist literature contains some of the most important modernist works of the 20th century – and yet they are, at times, pure head-scratchers. Funny, ruthless and philosophical, few writers ignite such deep and unsettling self-examination.

A simple premise
‘Happy Days’ is among one of his most masterful plays. Spare and introspective, the premise is incredibly simple: a woman is buried up to her waist in a mound of earth under the beating sun, where she remains trapped for the duration of the play. The woman, Winnie (in this production: Sue Hansen-Styles), muses on her situation and distracts herself with a bag containing a few everyday objects … and a gun. Alone on stage, she is occasionally visited by a man called Willie, who emerges to grumble a few words before slinking away.

As Winnie grapples with hope and hopelessness, we’re asked to question whether either or both are delusional. Her monologues, often flights of fancy that teeter on madness, are on a short leash. We are repeatedly yanked back to her bleak, buried-alive reality.

Ageless questions
The compelling determinism of Happy Days, along with its absurd humour, isolation and questions of raw survival, resonate profoundly with contemporary issues of climate change and COVID-19. Meanwhile, Beckett’s signature Russian-doll existentialism offers little comfort. We cling to logic, unpacking concepts one after the other, following the thread only to find that it leads … nowhere. Or back to the start.

Happy Days turns 60 this year and continues to reflect seismic world issues as clearly as it does the timeless human condition. Perhaps more than anything, it’s a Rorschach test for the audience.

From September 3-25, Happy Days will be performed at Teatret Ved Sorte Hest – one of Copenhagen’s oldest, most intimate theatres – by the Why Not Theatre Company.

Book your tickets here.




  • Three new countries recognise Palestine as an independent state – Denmark holds back

    Three new countries recognise Palestine as an independent state – Denmark holds back

    Norway, Spain and Ireland have announced that they will formally recognise Palestine as a state. A furious Israel has recalled its envoys from Dublin, Oslo and Madrid for emergency consultations. Denmark says it will only recognise Palestine under a two-state solution.

  • Digitization is the secret ingredient in Chinese restaurateur’s growth adventure

    Digitization is the secret ingredient in Chinese restaurateur’s growth adventure

    Publisher Jesper Skeel and Korean BBQ restaurant chain owner Zen discuss the ups and downs of independent entrepreneurship and how to crack the Copenhagen market, from both an international and Danish perspective.

  • Pro-Palestinian demonstrations divide Copenhagen society

    Pro-Palestinian demonstrations divide Copenhagen society

    As popular protests of the Israeli offensive in Gaza erupt around the world and in the media, from university campuses to the streets of major cities, discord is escalating between demonstrators, the general public, authorities and politicians.

  • Huge fire at Novo Nordisk – building “cannot be saved”

    Huge fire at Novo Nordisk – building “cannot be saved”

    A fire broke out at a Novo Nordisk site in Bagsværd on Wednesday morning. There have been no casualties, but the fire is “extensive and spreading”, and Novo’s administrative building “cannot be saved” say emergency services.

  • Denmark leads 15 member states in call to outsource EU migration policy

    Denmark leads 15 member states in call to outsource EU migration policy

    Just one day after the EU finally landed its New Pact on Migration and Asylum following four years of tough negotiations, a group of 15 member states, led by Denmark, issued a joint call for greater efforts to outsource migration policy and  prevent migrants from arriving at EU borders in the first place.

  • How to lead Danes IV – Cultural Bypassing

    How to lead Danes IV – Cultural Bypassing

    Many of us Danes, despite being well-educated and well-travelled, often lack experience in navigating cultural differences at work. This can lead to ‘cultural bypassing’, where we believe we are at a level of enlightenment where we no longer are burdened by the risk of making cross-cultural mistakes. As their manager, you can help your Danish colleagues by acknowledging cultural differences in the workplace.