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Scena Theatre returns to the DC stage with Beckett Shorts—four classic dark comic plays by Samuel Beckett that delve into the heart of humanity!

Washington, DC, May 26, 2022 — The Directors of Scena Theatre are excited to return to the DC stage for their 34th Season in Washington with a presentation of four short dark comic plays by the master of the absurd, Samuel Beckett. With Beckett Shorts, Scena also returns to its modernist roots of staging great works by the masters of literature and theatre. Beckett Shorts is directed by Scena’s Artistic Director Robert McNamara.

The official Press Night / Opening of Beckett Shorts is THURSDAY, JUNE 30, 2022 at 7:30 pm, at the District of Columbia Arts Center, 2438 18th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009. Members of the Press: please RSVP to to reserve your seat, or request an alternate performance date if needed.

As Washington's premier international theatre company, It is fitting that Scena reopens with Samuel Beckett after a 29-month hiatus driven by COVID-19 and the shutdown of theatre in DC. Not only is Scena celebrating its modernist roots, this production helps us reexamine life and the human condition after a two and a half year period of anxiety and fear. “Beckett’s plays are commentary on the darkness and humor within the human condition—which is often wrought with desire as well as distress,” noted Artistic Director Robert McNamara.

The four plays in Beckett Shorts include: Act Without Words I and II, both of which are an unspoken mime of unfulfilled desire. These two plays feature a man in a desert-like setting who sees various essential objects and tools lowered from above. Yet, they seemingly have life of their own and retreat, just out of reach. Next up is, Rough for Theatre I, which was originally a short film, and features an old blind beggar and an old crippled man in a wheelchair who form an alliance—but simply cannot get along. And, finally, Eh Joe, originally produced for television, features a paranoid and desolate man searching for answers to life throughout his apartment while hearing a haunting female voice from the past that accentuates Joe’s conflict within.

Scena has a rich tradition of producing Beckett’s plays. The company’s first foray into his absurd world was in 1990 with its highly-acclaimed Beckett “Festival of Plays”, mounted in collaboration with the internationally renowned San Quentin Drama Workshop. In 1998, Scena celebrated Beckett's 92nd birthday at the Embassy of France with the first workshop staging of his first play, Eleutheria. In 1999, Scena produced a successful "Beckett Festival" showcasing 13 of Beckett's most dynamic plays with encore participation from San Quentin Drama Workshop. Here, acclaimed actor Rick Cluchey was featured in Beckett's original staging of Krapp's Last Tape.

Moreover, In 2001, Scena staged an innovative production of Radio Plays at the Corcoran Gallery of Arts with an exciting ensemble and live music. In 2008, the company staged a riveting production of Beckett’s most famous work, Waiting for Godot. In 2014, Scena presented the classic Happy Days featuring Helen Hayes Award winner Nancy Robinette. Finally, in 2017, we staged The Beckett Trio with two-time Helen Hayes Award winner Nanna Ingvarsson.

Artistic Director McNamara once had an in-person meeting with Samuel Beckett in the PLM Hotel in Paris. There, he shared his admiration for the playwright and his personal love of his writings. The two exchanged stories of life at Trinity College Dublin, the alma matter of both, as well as the location of certain Dublin pubs and McNamara’s film work of Beckett’s plays in Stuttgart.


June 22 – July 16, 2022 

Wed. – Sat. 7:30 OR 10:00 pm plus 3 weekend matinees at 3:00 pm.

Full Schedule:

June 22  7:30 pm (Wed.)

June 24  10:00 pm (Fri.)

June 25  10:00 pm (Sat.)

June 29  7:30 pm (Wed.)

June 30  7:30 pm (Thurs.)

July 1     7:30 pm (Fri.)

July 2     7:30 pm (Sat.)

July 3     3:00 pm (Sun. MATINEE)

July 6     7:30 pm (Wed.)

July 8     10:00 pm (Fri.) 

July 9     3:00 pm (Sat. MATINEE)

July 9     10:00 pm (Sat.)

July 13     7:30 pm (Wed.)

July 15   10:00 pm (Fri.)

July 16     300 pm (Sat. MATINEE)

July 16   10:00 pm (Sat.)




$28 – $35 — Adults $35 and DCAC Members: $28


DCAC – the District of Columbia Arts Center  |  2438 18th St. NW, Washington, DC 20009


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Kim Curtis, Lee Ordeman, Buck O'Leary, Ron Litman and Stacy Whittle. | U/S: Ellie Nicoll and David Johnson.


Robert McNamara (Director), Carl Gudenius (Set Designer), Marianne Meadows (Lighting Designer), Denise Rose (Sound Design), Mei Chen (Costume Designer), Cate Brewer (Assistant Director), Anne Nottage (Literary Manager), and Gabriele Jakobi (Dramaturg & Resident Director).

Samuel Beckett, Playwright (1906–1989) was an Irish avant-garde novelist, playwright, poet, and stage director who is widely deemed one of the most influential writers of the 20th Century. Born near Dublin, Ireland on Good Friday, he took a degree at Trinity College. He taught briefly at Campbell College in Belfast then accepted the position of lectuer d’anglais at Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris. He traveled to Germany and experienced the rising tide of fascism. Beckett once again returned to Ireland, only to have an unpleasant parting of ways with his mother. The artistic enclave of Paris’ Left Bank beckoned his return. There he would remain for the rest of his life, save for a few years working with the French Resistance during WWII. His writings offer a bleak, tragicomic outlook on human nature, often coupled with dark comedy. Beckett was one of the last modernists and one of the first postmodernists—and he wrote in both French and English. He is one of the key writers in the “Theatre of the Absurd” movement. In 1969, Beckett was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for his “new forms for the novel and drama”. Later in life, his writings became more minimalist. Many 20th Century writers have publicly expressed their indebtedness to Beckett and his influence including Václav Havel, John Banville, Aidan Higgins, Tom Stoppard, Harold Pinter and Jon Fosse.

SCENA Theatre brings the best international theatre to Washington, DC and stimulates cultural exchange between theatre artists, locally and worldwide. Founded in 1987 under the leadership of Artistic Director Robert McNamara and Managing Director Amy Schmidt, SCENA produces an annual season of plays, seasonally staged readings, as well as a Workshop Series aimed at developing new works from around the globe. To learn more about our mission or past stage productions, please Click on the “About” link on the left menu.