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    Frederick Neumann, 86, actor devoted to Samuel Beckett’s work

    Mr. Neumann in Samuel Beckett’s “Wesward Ho” in 1986.
    Sara Krulwich/New York Times
    Mr. Neumann in Samuel Beckett’s “Wesward Ho” in 1986.

    NEW YORK — Frederick Neumann, an actor and director whose affinity for Samuel Beckett’s works and his friendship with the man helped forge the distinguished New York experimental troupe Mabou Mines, died Nov. 27 at his home in Kingston, N.J. He was 86. The cause was complications of diabetes, said his son, David.

    Mr. Neumann had the motley resume of many a working actor, with small roles in films, appearances on television, and a foray or two on Broadway.

    In 1971 he joined a fledgling troupe consisting of director JoAnne Akalaitis, writer and director Lee Breuer, composer Philip Glass, and actors David Warrilow and Ruth Maleczech.


    Calling themselves Mabou Mines — the name came from a town in Nova Scotia where the group spent a working summer — they produced a series of works that, in the parlance of the time, might have been considered less theater than performance art or conceptual art, generally involving the minimalist music of Glass.

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    It was the company’s attachment to Beckett that established it as a theater troupe.

    Mr. Neumann met Beckett at an East Berlin museum in 1976, and the ensuing friendship ­encouraged Beckett to entrust him and the company.

    Mr. Neumann, who appeared in most of the Beckett pieces, directed three of the adaptations: ‘‘Mercier and Camier,’’ a kind of novelistic forerunner to ‘‘Waiting for Godot,’’ ‘‘Company,’’ a slim volume of fictionalized, autobiographical episodes, and ‘‘Worstward Ho,’’ a dense monologue about existence that Mr. Neumann adapted for four performers, including himself as the narrator.

    Glass wrote music for the first two pieces, but Beckett drew the line at ‘‘Worstward Ho,’’ which had its premiere at the Classic Stage Company in New York in 1986, three years before his death.


    ‘‘With all due respect to Philip,’’ Mr. Neumann recalled Beckett’s saying, ‘‘no music, for pity’s sake. It’s my last gasp.’’

    Frederick Carl Neumann was born on Sugar Island, Michigan.

    Mr. Neumann’s film credits include ‘‘The Prince of Tides’’ and ‘‘Reversal of Fortune,’’ about the Claus von Bulow murder case.

    On television he appeared on ‘‘Spenser: For Hire’’ and ‘‘Law & Order.’’