The 'Female Solo' that Beckett began writing (in English) as a one-act drama in October 1960 was reshaped, early in 1961, into a more satisfying two-act structure as 'Happy Days'.
Alan Schneider, close friend of Beckett, directed the play's world première on 17 September 1961, at New York's Cherry Lane Theatre. It was more than a year later before the play arrived in England, with a Royal Court production in November 1962.
The following November, Beckett himself supervised the Parisian première of his French translation of the play ('Oh les beaux jours') at the Odéon Théâtre de France, which was directed by Roger Blin (the original director of 'Waiting for Godot').
On the tenth anniversary of the New York première, Beckett directed a German translation -'Glückliche Tage' - at Berlin's Schiller Theatre, (where he also directed 'Endgame', 'Krapp's Last Tape', 'Play', 'That Time' and 'Footfalls'). In 1979 he directed the Royal Court production in London, which saw Billie Whitelaw's tour-de-force performance as Winnie.
The script was first published by the Grove Press Inc. (New York), in 1961. Faber and Faber (London) published the work in 1963. 'Oh les beaux jours' appeared in 1963 from Editions de minuit (Paris).
Patricia Rozema, the Canadian director of the Beckett on Film production of 'Happy Days' says, 'I wanted to make 'Happy Days' because, well, it's so happy. The sizzling boy-girl interplay between that cheerful socialite and her strong silent type, their crazy antics not to mention that startling flip flop ending - it all adds up to a must see movie.'
The 79-minute screen production features stage and screen stars Richard Johnson as Willie and Rosaleen Linehan as Winnie. Says Linehan, 'A profound frivolity is what Beckett hoped for and that is totally essential to the piece. It is his greatest note in the play. And with Winnie, Beckett really got right inside a woman.'
The Beckett on Film performance was filmed in Tenerife on the side of a volcano. 'Happy Days' was Beckett's last full-length drama and after it his works became increasingly minimalist.