This one-act dramaticule, written in English in 1972, is regarded generally as among Beckett's finest works. Beckett is said to have found inspiration for this 14-minute piece in the painting of 'The Decollation of St John' by Caravaggio, in Valletta Cathedral.
'Not I' received its première (directed by Alan Schneider) at New York's Lincoln Center in the autumn of 1972. It was first staged in London at the Royal Court Theatre on 16 January 1973, with Billie Whitelaw as Mouth, her head clamped in place to prevent any movement. Beckett directed his French translation - 'Pas moi' - at the Théâtre d'Orsay, Paris, in April 1976, which featured the celebrated actress Madeleine Renaud. The production was first televised (without the Auditor) on 17 April 1977.
The text of 'Not I' was first published by Faber and Faber, London, in 1973. The Grove Press, New York and Les Editions de minuit, Paris, published the work in 1974 and 1975 respectively.
'Despite the theatrical nature of the piece, the startling image at the heart of it - an isolated mouth - could perhaps be better realised in the cinema. Also, working within the limits of Samuel Beckett's stage instructions becomes oddly liberating, like etching a map of the world on a postage stamp.'
- Neil Jordan, director of 'Not I' for the Beckett on Film project.
Neil Jordan's film career began with the role of creative consultant on John Boorman's 'Excalibur' in 1981, about which he made a documentary entitled 'The Making of Excalibur - Myth into Movie'. Since then he has made films that include: 'Angel' (1982); 'Company of Wolves' (1984); 'Mona Lisa' (1986); 'The Crying Game' (1992), for which he won an Oscar for best screenplay; 'Interview with the Vampire' (1994); 'Michael Collins' (1995), which was awarded a Golden Lion for Best Film at the Venice Film Festival; 'The Butcher Boy' (1996), for which he won a Silver Bear for Direction at the Berlin Film Festival; 'In Dreams' (1999); and 'The End of the Affair' (1999) for which he won the BAFTA for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Julianne Moore, who plays Mouth, has a string of film credits which include: 'Short Cuts' and 'Cookie's Fortune', both directed by Robert Altman; 'The Hand that Rocks the Cradle'; 'Lost World'; 'Jurassic Park'; 'Boogie Nights'; 'The Big Lebowski', 'The End of The Affair', 'Magnolia', 'Safe' and 'An Ideal Husband'.