Monday, August 23, 2010

Waiting for Godot

This was my first time seeing "Waiting for Godot" by Samuel Becket. The play was staged at the Lowndes Shakespeare Center (812 East Rollins Street). I thought this would be an easy production to sketch since I figured the two men would have little to do as they waited. I was mistaken. Action occurred at every point in the production. I found myself erasing again and again. I finally settled on the moment when Vladimir and Estagon consider hanging themselves from a tree. They lack the ambition and tools to pull off this act. I have read that Godot might represent hope or god. but in the end it is the actions of these two men trying to find meaning in a seemingly meaningless existence that gives the play its legs.
The play is decidedly long, which gave me plenty of time to sketch. The two tramps are entertaining with distinct personalities. Estagon hasn't got a great memory and relies of Vladmir to recreate his history. Vladmir has a positive attitude at most times, spreading his arms wide for an embrace or smiling quizzically as he thinks. It is this faint positive attitude in the face of meaninglessness that offers hope for these men who seem to be living the same exact day over and over.
I have no desire to plumb the depths of the inner meaning of the play. I experienced it superficially enjoying the Laurel and Hardyesque routines and staging. Such antics as swapping hats, exercising to look tree like, playing games, arguing, talking and even contemplating suicide are all diversions to "Hold the terrible silence at bay."
Hard to say if I liked or disliked the play, like the main characters I am indifferent.

ESTRAGON:
(Struggling to remove his boot, giving up again). Nothing to be done.
VLADIMIR:
I'm beginning to come round to that opinion. All my life I've tried to put it from me, saying Vladimir, be reasonable, you haven't yet tried everything. And I resumed the struggle. (He broods, musing on the struggle. Turning to Estragon.) So there you are again.
ESTRAGON:
Am I?
VLADIMIR:
I'm glad to see you back. I thought you were gone forever.
ESTRAGON:
Me too.


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