David Warrilow (28 December 1934 – 17 August 1995) was an English actor best known as one of the "finest interpreters of Samuel Beckett’s work".
A shoemaker's son born in Stone, Staffordshire, Warrilow studied at the University of Reading under James Knowlson, Beckett’s biographer. In 1967 in Paris, he joined Réalités, editing the magazine for eleven years. He joined the Mabou Mines theater group in 1970. Three years later, he starred in a theatrical adaptation of Beckett’s The Lost Ones, directed by Lee Breuer and Thom Cathcart. In 1984, he directed a cinematic adaptation of the novella.
At Warrilow's request, Beckett wrote A Piece of Monologue for him in 1979, impressed by the actor’s bilingualism. "In August 1977", writes James Knowlson, "the actor, David Warrilow, who had had such a resounding success with the adaptation of The Lost Ones, wrote to Beckett asking him if he would write a solo piece for him to perform. Questioned as to what he had in mind, Warrilow wrote back saying that he 'had an image of a man standing on stage lit from above. He’s standing there in a sort of cone of light. You couldn't see his face and he’s talking about death.' Beckett's reply began: 'My birth was my death.'" The play, directed by the actor, premiered in New York in December 1979.
In 1981 Warrilow played the "Reader" in Beckett's Ohio Impromptu under Alan Schneider’s direction. First performed in Columbus, Ohio, the play toured New York City, Paris, London and Edinburgh. In 1983 in Paris, he starred in Beckett’s That Time and Catastrophe, both plays directed by Alan Schneider. In 1989 in London, Warrilow was Krapp in Beckett’s Krapp's Last Tape, directed by Antoni Libera.
Between 1986 and 1995, the actor worked with Paris-based theater director Joël Jouanneau, interpreting the texts of Samuel Beckett, Thomas Bernhard, Joseph Conrad, Robert Pinget, and Robert Walser. In 1991 Warrilow played the role of Stanford Garland in the film Barton Fink, directed by Joel Cohen. A year after his performance in Beckett’s Company, a theatrical reading directed by Jouanneau at the Petit Odéon in Paris, Warrilow died of complications of AIDS in 1995, aged 60.
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