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20090404

Waiting For Sam No More



My mentor, I guess, was the late poet John Tagliabue. He didn't introduce me to the work of Samuel Beckett. That was done by 2 religion professors in 1959. In fact, when I directed my first production of Godot the next year, playing Vladimir as well, I may have introduced him. But it was John who revealed to me a few years ago the full intellectual and cultural brilliance of Beckett. One does not see in the plays, poems, novels (or whatever-they-are) an author sitting at table, after a gourmet dinner, discussing with friends the paintings of Cezanne. But that's who he was...and now we have the first volume of his letters to prove it. The Times has a great review~~~
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/05/books/review/ONeill-t.html?_r=1&8bu=&emc=bua1&pagewanted=all

A word about that first production: it was rather a revolutionary act in Central Maine in 1960 or so, at a quite conservative (then) college named Bates. I realized there was no hope of a formal student project of such a play in the campus theater. But I knew a professor who had a key to the place, so our little cast of 4, plus the Boy of course, used to sneak in there to rehearse. I chose a very popular student to play Estragon. I figured they wouldn't expel him. For Pozzo and Lucky I got 2 faculty members. One, I believe, still teaches English up there, and the other was a history prof who became the college dean. Perfecto! The play requires almost no scenery, and for lighting I just stepped off stage at "sunset" and switched down the overhead lights. Then I came back on. Such business is completely in the spirit of the thing.

However, the crusty old lady who ran theatre then---her first name was Lavinia, so you can imagine (and the building now is named after her)---discovered us a couple days before we were ready to show it. To my amazement, instead of getting me thrown out of school, she decided to avoid scandal and give our show the full treatment. Lighting design (complete with Moon that shot up into place), a better scraggly tree, costumes, the works. Nevertheless, we didn't avoid scandal. When Estragon points out to Vladimir in the first moments of the play that his fly is full open, the old dignitaries in the front row practically fainted as I zipped it up. Never neglect the little things of life.

5 comments:

  1. I have been a Beckett enthusiast since my late twenties. I liked the novels best. If they can rightly be called novels. I read the plays but never saw them performed. That would make all the difference I'm sure. But the books are still a hoarded treasure of mine. I will not part with them. I keep an old bicycle because of Beckett. I never ride it. But just in case... You never know...

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  2. The bicycle should be stored inside, preferably under the staircase in an old apartment building. I guess Utah's probably got a single dwelling house though.

    I agree about the novels. I love them too, although The Unnameable and beyond become increasing fragmented. As for the poems, can anyone beat More Pricks Than Kicks for a title?

    I think PBS did a Beckett series or something a couple years ago. There was an OK version of Godot. Check a library outside of Mormon reach.

    Or buy a couple copies. Read them aloud with a friend. Sam Shepard's fun that way too. And Pinter. I can't stand reading a play, silently to myself.

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  3. So, there, are Hamm and Clov and Jazzolog inside a bar.

    And the bartender sez~~~

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  4. Nah, it would never work :D

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  5. The bartender sez~~~

    Spooooooooool.

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