Artists and Community Series
Under the Auspices of the Merle Debuskey Studio Program


By Samuel Beckett


Streaming February 25 at 7pm ET through March 1, 2021 at 7pm ET


Featuring Bill Camp

Sets & Costumes: Kaye Voyce  Lighting: Jennifer Tipton  Video Design: Eamonn Farrell

Production Stage Manager/Assistant Video Director: Britt Berke  Assistant Director: Peter Cook

Directed by JoAnne Akalaitis


Free, registration required. REGISTER HERE.


FIRST LOVE by Samuel Beckett is presented through special arrangement with Georges Borchardt on behalf of The Estate of Samuel Beckett. FIRST LOVE, a novella, was written in 1946.  First published in French  as Premier Amour by Edition de Minuit, Paris, 1970. The English Translation was published by Calder and Boyars, London, 1973. This Production presents the text of FIRST LOVE in its entirety without omissions or alterations.


Described by novelist John Banville as “the most nearly perfect short story ever written,” Samuel Beckett’s FIRST LOVE is re-imagined as a solo piece for virtual performance by actor Bill Camp (Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit), staged by six-time OBIE Award-winning director JoAnne Akalaitis, collaborating with three remarkable designers.
A garrulous loner expounds on the highs and lows of living rough, the charms of Europe’s various graveyards, and the woman who, years ago and against his will, inflamed his desire and brought him in from the cold. With wit and compassion, Beckett depicts the strange contortions of a solitary nature trapped in the toils of love.
First Love premieres February 25 at 7pm EST on Vimeo.
After the premiere, the recording will be available to watch until March 1 at 7pm EST.


Join us for live discussions via Zoom with JoAnne Akalaitis, Bill Camp, and the artistic team, moderated by Alisa Solomon of TFANA’s Council of Scholars. 

Thursday, February 25 at 8:45pm EST

Friday, February 26 at 8:45pm EST

Alisa Solomon
is a teacher, writer and dramaturg living in New York City. She directs the Arts and Culture concentration in the M.A. program at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Her criticism, essays and political reporting have appeared in a wide range of magazines and newspapers, including the New York Times, Nation, Forward, Theater, and Village Voice (where she was on the staff for 21 years). Her book, Re-Dressing the Canon: Essays on Theater and Gender (Routledge, 1997) won the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism. She is the co-editor (with Tony Kushner) of the anthology Wrestling with Zion: Progressive Jewish-American Responses to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (Grove, 2003). Her latest book is Wonder of Wonders: A Cultural History of Fiddler on the Roof from Metropolitan Books (Holt). Photo by David M. Barreda.



Samuel Beckett (1906–1989)  was born in the Dublin suburb of Foxrock, to a middle-class Protestant family of comfortable means. He attended the prestigious Portora Royal School and Trinity College, where he excelled in French and Italian, then taught briefly at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris. There he moved in the circle of artists and writers around James Joyce and began writing prose and poetry. He traveled widely in Europe in the 1930s—including Germany under the Nazis—and ultimately settled in Paris for the rest of his life. In 1946, he was awarded the Croix de Guerre for his work with the French Resistance.

Feeling that WWII had wasted his precious time and energies, Beckett withdrew into creative seclusion afterwards, producing a torrent of astonishingly powerful and original prose, including the introspective, formally challenging, darkly hilarious novel trilogy Molloy, Malone Dies, and The Unnamable. These books—written in French, in which Beckett said it was easier to write “without style”—were ignored or dismissed when they appeared, then later hailed as paradigm-changing masterpieces and literary landmarks.

Beckett first turned to drama as a break from the novel-writing he considered his real work, but it soon became much more than a sideline. The international success of Waiting for Godot—his play about two tramp-like characters filling time while waiting for someone who never comes, premiered in 1953—made him a public figure and ensured his continued involvement in theater despite his shyness and distaste for publicity. He went on to refine his dramatic vision in Endgame, Happy Days, Krapp’s Last Tape and many other plays that featured similarly castoff, ambiguously fictional characters trapped in starkly desolate and symbolic situations. These works permanently altered the Western world’s perception of the nature and purpose of dramatic art. Beckett received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1969 and at his death two decades later was widely considered the 20th century’s greatest dramatist.

Broadway: The Crucible (Tony nomination), Death of a Salesman (Drama Desk nomination), Coram Boy, Heartbreak House, The Seagull. Off-Broadway: Homebody/Kabul (Obie Award Winner), The Misanthrope. Regional: Co-Adaptor and lead for In a Year With 13 Moons (Yale Rep) and Notes From the Underground (TFANA at Baryshnikov Arts Center, Yale Rep, La Jolla Playhouse), Olly’s Prison. Film: Dark Waters, Joker, The Kitchen, Native Son, Molly’s Game. Television: “The Queen’s Gambit” (SAG nomination), “The Night Of” (Emmy nomination), “The Outsider.”

JOANNE AKALAITIS is a theatre director and writer who has won six OBIE Awards for direction (and sustained achievement) and a Drama Desk Award. She is a co-founder of Mabou Mines and a former Artistic Director of The Public Theater. Akalaitis has staged works by Euripides, Shakespeare, Strindberg, Janacek, Philip Glass, Beckett, Jean Genet, Tennessee Williams, Harold Pinter, and María Irene Fornés, in addition to her own work. Akalaitis was the Andrew Mellon Co-Chair of the first directing programs at The Julliard School, chair of the Theater program at Bard College, and the Denzel Washington Endowed Chair of the Theater at Fordham University.
EAMONN FARRELL (Video Design) is a Virginia-based theater maker and video designer. With his Brooklyn-based company, Anonymous Ensemble, he has created dozens of original, media-infused shows, installations, and live webcasts in New York City and around the world. Eamonn’s work is focused on investigating how innovative technologies can support and elevate the work of live performers to create unforgettable experiences. Eamonn has taught video design for performance at Princeton University, City College of New York, and the University of Virginia.
JENNIFER TIPTON (Lighting Design) is well known for work in theater, opera and dance. Theater – To Kill a Mockingbird; Opera – Ricky Ian Gordon’s Intimate Apparel; Dance – Twyla Tharp’s A Gathering of Ghosts at American Ballet Theatre. She teaches lighting at the Yale School of Drama. Among many, she has received the 2001 Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize, the 2003 Jerome Robbins Prize and in 2008 she was awarded the USA “Gracie” and MacArthur Fellowships.
KAYE VOYCE (Set and Costume Design) TFANA: Isolde. Broadway: True West, The Nap, Significant Other, The Real Thing and The Realistic Joneses and Shining City. Recent off-Broadway: Mud/Drowning (directed by JoAnne Akalaitis), Coriolanus, Marys Seacole, Greater Clements and Hamlet. Other favorite recent projects were La Fanciulla del West in Beijing, and Richard Maxwell’s Queens Row in London and at the Kitchen.
BRITT BERKE (Production Stage Manager/Assistant Video Director) is an NYC-based theatre director. Recent work: Round Room (Origin Theatre’s 1st Irish Festival; Best Director Nomination), Liberian Girl in Brooklyn (Mabou Mines), and Promenade in Concert (The Public Theatre’s The Rest I Make Up Marathon). Britt is an alumna of the Manhattan Theatre Club Directing Fellowship, 24 Hour Plays: Nationals, WP Theater Internship, and NAMT and SDC Observerships. BA, Barnard College. 
PETER COOK (Assistant Director) is Artistic Associate at Theatre for a New Audience, and a director of plays, cabaret and site-specific performance. His work has appeared at Ars Nova, Joe’s Pub, The Brick, the New York Int’l and Philadelphia Fringe Festivals, Stella Adler Studio, Dixon Place, The Hangar Theater, and Playhouse on Park, and with companies including Lesser America, The Play Company and Opera Theater of Yale College. He is a Drama League directing fellow.  


Special thanks to Bruce Odland for audio consultancy and pre- and post-show sound.



We are so grateful to all of you who have stood with us during this time. Please consider a fully tax-deductible gift of any size to our Recovery and Revival Fund to support our present work and plans for the future. New gifts will be matched dollar for dollar by a $200,000 Challenge provided by several anonymous donors. With your help our community can stay strong. Our shared conversation that is at the heart of great theatre will continue.



Theatre for a New Audience’s 2020–21 Season is Dedicated to the Memory of Terrence McNally, American playwright, librettist, and screenwriter.   
Deloitte and Bloomberg Philanthropies are the 2020-2021 Season Sponsors.

Theatre for a New Audience’s Artists & Community Series is presented under the auspices of the Merle Debuskey Studio Program. The program is named for Merle Debuskey, legendary press agent and long-time TFANA Board Member and advocate, through a bequest from his estate.

Merle was an influential force on and off Broadway for decades, notably as chief promoter of Joseph Papp’s Public Theater and Shakespeare in the Park. He represented hundreds of shows, including the Broadway hits How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, A Chorus Line, and Jesus Christ Superstar. He served as President of the Association of Theatrical Press Agents and Managers for many years.


We wish to express our gratitude to the Performers’ Unions:
through Theatre Authority, Inc. for their cooperation in permitting the Artists to appear on this program.


Photo Credit: JoAnne Akalaitis (photo by Dana Maxson), Bill Camp (photo by Bill Trent), Samuel Beckett.