Waiting For Godot
Waiting for Godot is a unique play written by the renowned playwright, Samuel Beckett. One of his best works, its story revolves around the two main characters, Estragon and Vladimir, who are eagerly waiting for someone known simply as Godot to arrive. It is most interesting aspect of the play and has been the subject of much debate and speculation. The play has been interpreted many times and has even been dubbed the Most Significant English Language Play of the 20th Century.
Waiting for Godot was in itself an English language translation of Samuel Beckett’s original version, in French, titled En attendant Godot. The original French play is often described as a tragicomedy and its two acts were written in between 1948 and 1949. The Theatre de Babylone premier production of the play was led by director Roger Blin, who was also a member of the cast, playing the role of Pozzo.
Godot’s story and characters are made even more mysterious and appealing since Samuel Beckett did not elaborate on the characters beyond what was written in the play, even to members of the cast. This added an enigmatic factor to the play that has attracted many theatregoers. Renowned critic, Vivian Mercier, has described the play as a ‘theoretical impossibility’, in which ‘nothing happens, that yet keeps audiences glued to their seats’. Vivian Mercier goes on to describe that the second act of the play is a subtle reprise of the first thus, it is a play in which ‘nothing happens, twice’. This makes it even more of a marvel and the Sherlock Holmes of plays, so to speak.
But most enigmatic of all in Waiting for Godot is the main character who is the absent character, Godot, whose identity has been the source of much debate. Many have speculated everything from God to Pozzo, with debate rising since Samuel Beckett himself declined to explain further. The play’s setting is also unusual, with the play having only one scene for both of its acts. Samuel Beckett also wrote and directed an adaptation of the play for the Schiller-Theatre in 1975, which was well received critically and commercially.
The 1975 production marked the first time in which Samuel Beckett had taken complete control of the play. Before then, he had only overseen productions, and was assisted by then assistant director Walter Asmus. Beckett described the production and the play as a game, and thus went on to direct the play in an artificial and ballet like manner.
The play’s continued success was marked by the fact that it was open to many interpretations, with Beckett going so far as to approve of the play’s most famous productions. Staged at the University of Cape Town’s Baxter Theatre, it was a mixed-race production in which Gogo and Didi were played by Winston Ntshona and John Kani, two black actors. Similarly, Pozzo was portrayed as an Afrikaner landlord of Dutch descent with Lucky, his slave, ‘a shanty town piece of white trash’.
Sometimes described as an allegory of the Cold War, it is truly one of the most iconic pieces of theatre today. Samuel Beckett is famous as one of the most influential writes of the twentieth century. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature, as well as the Croix de Guerre, two of the greatest honors in literature. His writing is often described as bleak, tragicomic and often blended in gallows humor and black comedy. This particular play of his is a must see live, with Waiting for Godot tickets in hand.