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WHAT DID YOU THINK OF WAITING FOR GODOT?

Thank you for joining us for Waiting for Godot!

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Please take a moment to answer any of the following questions – we’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

Have you seen Waiting for Godot before? If you have, was this production different?

Why do you think Godot is still being performed sixty years later?

What themes in the play resonated with you?

 

Thank you for sharing your experience with us!

22 Comments

  1. Wonderful production. Funny, smart and well cast. Not a dull moment. Beckett at its best.

    Reply
    • Jeffrey CallahanNovember 4, 2013 at 3:11 pm

      Neither my wife nor I had seen Godot before, but we had seen Conor Lovett in First Love at the Dublin Theatre Festival a few years ago, so we knew we were in for a great performance. First time at the Paramount….. nice size theater, reminiscent of Dublin’s venues. Keep up the good work. It was worth the drive from CT.

      Reply
  2. Maryel LockeNovember 2, 2013 at 11:19 am

    I only saw Beckett’s play once many years ago and remember it as slightly boring but this production was excellent and I was captured
    and watching intently almost all the way through–in the second act it seems to slag slightly but not enough so I was not interested and
    did not enjoy it – it was a marvellous evening at the theater and congratulations to you for putting it on the main stage so we all
    could see it

    Reply
  3. Half the group walked out at intermission, echoing the experience of its premiere in Paris – or London? – I believe. I did not find this interpretation compelling. I think this play is more moving when the actors are not quite so self conscious of their schtick (so to speak). The production did bring out the humor in the play however.
    I saw a production of this play just a few weeks ago up in Maine. The venue was a lot smaller which I think added to the power of the production. This play needs a more physically intimate connection with the audience I think.
    The struggle of the two to find meaning and connection in the infinity of time is as compelling as ever.

    Reply
  4. David P. MillerNovember 2, 2013 at 8:46 pm

    Dev, how are you? (Other comments readers – it turns out the first commenter and I have known each other for a dog’s age.) But – half of the audience walked out? Was that the evening of November 1? If so, that wasn’t true in the orchestra level of seating – maybe in the balcony? The November 1 audience was very much engaged, at least from where I was seated, visibly and audibly too.

    My wife and I enjoyed this production a great deal. Godot has so much in it that I suppose finding the ennui/vaudeville balance will have to vary not only among productions but among those who see it. In particular, I was struck with the “rock” as not only the entire playing area, but as an echo of the moon. Didi and Gogo stranded on the moon rock. One small moment that I thought was brilliant – when Pozzo and Lucky both bared their heads to show their white hair – an echo of the late Beckett play, “Ohio Impromptu.”

    Since high school day (40+ years ago) I’ve seen a number of productions of Godot. The following comments come from the fact that I’ve never had a chance to talk back to any of them.

    Lucky’s speech is structured on the spine of a single fragmented, incomplete sentence. It goes something like this (“something” because you could add or subtract words or phrases around this core): “Given the existence / of a personal God / who / loves us dearly / and suffers / with those who / are plunged in torment / and considering / it is established beyond all doubt / that man / wastes and pines / and considering what is more much more grave that in the light of the labors / in the great cold the great dark the air and the earth abode of stones in the great gold alas alas / alas alas on on the skull the skull … ” It is this, or something close to it, I’m convinced, that Lucky is in fact struggling to “think.” The fact that he’s constantly self-distracted from this thread, and ultimately fails to make coherent sense, doesn’t mean that he’s not desperately attempting to articulate something of essential importance – something, perhaps, of core relevance to the play and certainly to the tramps’ dilemma. What Lucky is not, I believe, is simply a crazy babbler – which is how I’ve see him played every time without fail. Tadhg Murphy did a creditable job of differentiating the various phases of his speech, to some extent. But I sometimes wonder if I’ll live to see a production where this speech isn’t primarily a feat of memorization, breath control, and velocity.

    Thanks for listening!

    Reply
    • David DowerNovember 3, 2013 at 8:25 am

      I love that you shared your sense of the play and that particular speech over the years/productions as well as your thoughts on this production. Thanks for engaging like that! Makes all the effort we put into keeping this space alive and updated for audiences seem useful. As for the question of walkouts, I trust Mr. Luthra is speaking in hyperbole, as we’ve had nothing close to half the audience walking out with this production. Your experience of it is more the general sense of the crowd. In the first three performances over 1300 people have seen it and only a handful have left at intermission. Two couples- unfamiliar with the text- thought the play was over and later wrote to express their dismay to find out they’d missed half of it. He’s right that there are famous stories of audiences storming out of the play’s earliest performances, but the play has transcended its early reception to become a steady and essential contributor to world theater and this production has found a receptive and generous response here in Boston, for which both the company and ArtsEmerson are very grateful!

      Reply
  5. Joan LancourtNovember 3, 2013 at 7:12 am

    Unlike other productions I’ve seen, this Godot struck a perfect balance between the humor and existential gravitas of hopeful despair. One must find the ability to laugh at the absurdity of the human condition. Without that ability, it would be impossible to go on, and this was the 1st time that I was palpably aware that despite the futility – an almost certain sense that Godot will never come – it is on the ‘almost’ that this production focuses – offering a fragile thread of hope. I was never so aware of this before. They keep waiting, and you sense they will keep on waiting. There is the frail and tiny suggestion that things might, even if the odds are against it, somehow change – like the 3 tiny leaves that ‘appear’ on the tree. As long as there is even a shred of hope, we can go on. And God (or Godot) knows, we need even a shred of hope that things can change as we participate (actively or passively) in the spectacle of the unravelling of our social order.

    I found the acting outstanding, the timing of speech and pauses elegant, and each character a perfect foil for the others. I’d be hard pressed to single out any of them, which is a tribute to all of them. Even Lucky’s ‘thinking’, quite literally breathtaking as it is, is perfectly integrated into the whole. And the night I saw it, the audience seemed totally caught up in the humor of the play.

    Bravo ArtsEmerson for another thought-provoking, stimulating evening of theater. Wish there had been an opportunity for a shared conversation afterwards. I have come to miss that when one simply gets up and leaves at the end. I want to engage, while it’s still fresh in my mind, and hear what others have experienced. That always deepens my experience, even if I don’t always agree with what is being said.

    Reply
  6. This was maybe the fourth production I’d seen — and while the others were never less than “interesting” (that great all-purpose word), this one was deeply moving as an x-ray of what most of us do, or try to do, or fail to do — made so clear by the ways in which the actors playing Gogo and Didi were pin-point specific. And for the first time, Lucky’s monologue struck me as the equivalent of someone having cracked open a massive jar in which was stored the narrative of the world — and was again all the more moving because of it. H/T to ArtsEmerson for this one!

    Reply
  7. gailspilsbury@gmail.November 4, 2013 at 6:31 am

    This the 2nd time I’ve seen the play and I read it twice. I always thrilled to it, but this was the first time all of its multiple, thought-provoking layers and also humor came through at once to me. I’m much older now–60–whereas my earlier Godot experiences were in my teens and 20s. Still, the performers conveyed it all to me in the most satisfying theatrical and intellectual experience.

    I was in a first-row balcony seat and it was difficult to hear everything clearly–I had to strain sometimes, when the actors moved back on the stage. Voices did not carry up. The accents were more than fine, acoustics was the issue.

    Reply
  8. Richard LearyNovember 4, 2013 at 11:12 am

    Very thought provoking and applicable to todays society and Politics.just as then how little things change.

    Reply
  9. This performance was a disappointment, owing mostly to over-investment in GODOT’s comedic dimension; giving the production a popular vogue was obviously more important to director and producer than honoring Beckett’s essential writerly despair. Even Lucky’s monologue—executed with gusto and singularity—was tarnished by the choice of a STOOGES-esque ‘flop-on-face’ following.

    Stay at home and re-read the text in quiet.

    Reply
  10. The despair of finding sustenance, the overwhelming urge to give up frightened me. I was reminded of the many in our country who have been made hungrier today by the devices of distant gluttony.

    The soft precision of movement, even hand gestures, was brilliantly executed. A deeply talented ensemble.

    Reply
  11. Ilya LibenzonNovember 6, 2013 at 10:51 am

    I read the play and watched a UK-based production in the past and in both instances the philosophical aspect of the play resonated with me most. I thought that the relationship between Vladimir and Estragon is such that they don’t need to wait for Godot anymore — the Godot is already among them for they show humility and compassion and freedom of thinking, they are artisans who reflect the world.
    On the other hand, it seems that the current production emphasized the social aspect more than the philosophical one.
    I was under the impression this time that Vladimir and Estragon are being “innocent observers” aimlessly wondering around the circle unable to break free and help others, symbolizing the intelligence class in comparison with the master and the slave, endlessly talking and not taking any action. In sum, I liked this play but it highlighted the social and humor aspects more than philosophical one, which is fine with me too.

    Reply
  12. It was PERFECTION. Was my 4th or 5th time seeing Waiting for Godot and this was the best performance Beckett should only be performed by the Irish in my opinion. Still being performed because it is relevant.

    Reply
  13. John WhippleNovember 7, 2013 at 12:08 pm

    This was my first time seeing “Waiting for Godot,” and I can’t resist saying that it was worth waiting for. I can’t say I understand it, beyond what I posted on Facebook when I got home — “Kind of like Ecclesiastes: nothing new under the sun, vanity of vanities, and all that.” In other words, I don’t really “get” Pozzo and Lucky’s significance, but that’s okay. I can continue to mull it over, and maybe Ilya Libenzon’s comment is the key. At any rate, I found the production very well done. Tangentially, it was good to see Tadgh Murphy back — I still have happy memories of “The Cripple of Inishmaan.”

    Reply
  14. Micheline de BievreNovember 7, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    I thoroughly enjoyed the play and have seen it many times in Europe and here. I thought the staging and the acting were superb. I am very much in favor of absurdist plays and loved your production of Gogol’s play as well. Thank you for presenting foreign theater groups in Boston.

    Reply
  15. Having written a 14 page paper on both Beckett and the role of existentialism my junior year in high school, I went into this production, thinking (naively) that I might know what to expect. Boy, was I wrong. The fellows at Gare St Lazare have provided a knock production!

    I think “Waiting for Godot” is so brilliant because as an audience member we are left with so many questions, good questions! Beckett has real talent for engaging his audiences, making them think. So many new plays leave everything on the stage, leave no room for thought or ambiguity. With Beckett it’s almost as if he provides only a glimmer of an idea and we as the audience must do the rest. I am still puzzled by the leaves, the ropes, the Biblical references, and I like that! Almost as engaging as the performance were the remarks being made around me during intermission. Families and couples were creating their own ideas, trying to muddle their way through Beckett’s conundrum. More plays should evoke such a lively post show conversation!

    Also tip my virtual hat to the wonderful design team, specifically Mr. Ferdia Murphy, whose inventive set was silently brilliant. First and foremost it was refreshingly new and beautiful. It discarded the jaded and now cliched “flat playing space with a tree center stage” and instead opted for an almost lunar landscape. What I found most impressive was the circular nature of the set. The play itself is circular, the “plot”, the dialogue, the acts, there is so much repetition that it amazes me that the circle is not more commonly used in other productions. The closing silhouettes in front of the moon were haunting! Well, done!

    It seems almost too difficult to write about the performances of the four outstanding actors. So I won’t, I won’t belittle their performance with my insufficient vocabulary but, I will say they were some of the finest performances I have seen at the theatre this season!

    Reply
  16. I first saw Waiting for Godot in French and in Arabic–both times in Beirut, Lebanon, in the early 1970s, then in English. I think the English-language production of the Gare St Lazare players Ireland is magnificent, putting the focus once again on the fundamental elements of this great play–the people, the language, the situation.
    In fact, I posted a short review of it on my blog–talinedv.com– last night, with good words to ArtsEmerson for bringing the world on stage to us all here in Boston.

    Reply
  17. Janet HollanderNovember 11, 2013 at 11:13 am

    This is at least the 7th Godot I’ve seen (It’s one of the “problem plays” for which I see every production I can.) The first was about 56 years ago – the first Miami production came to Boston but without the full FL cast as I recall. Alan Schneider directed. At Emerson this Saturday night, I saw the most unusual audience response of them all: utter delight. Between acts and after the show, people (in the orchestra at least) were grinning, happy, telling each other how much they loved it. Grinning, in response to one of the great bleak statements of post-WWII: this interested me greatly, much more than the production. I’ve been most deeply engaged with performances in more intimate venues, especially an off-Broadway Godot maybe 12 years ago; I have searched for info about who did that. Can anyone out there help? I saw the big-star Godots in NY but only that production moved me deeply. I was so aware throughout that performance that the text is sort-of launched by the reference to the two thieves at the crucifixion. I really did feel something like fear and trembling, within the vaudeville rhythms.
    This time, however, I am thinking more about the social history of the play: how actors and audience have grown into the text, such that it feels accessible in so many ways. In theater (as in all art), text/interpretation/reception evolves as a set. We have all, including the play, grown into the 21st century, and we – the set of Beckett’s Godot, actors/director, and audience – are different today than at that first Boston performance. I’d love to understand this transition, and to that end have been exploring all interpretations and comments I can find on line, which is a lot:
    By the way, why do some productions pronounce Godot with emphasis on the first syllable and others on the second?

    Reply
  18. Galia RabinkinNovember 11, 2013 at 12:03 pm

    My husband and I attended the 8 o’clock performance on Saturday, November 9. WE were really disapointed by the sound system – we had the second row balcony seats and could hear at most half of what was going on at the stage. We also noticed that it was our problem only – there was laughter at the orchestra seats at times but none at the balcony!
    We like the play, and it is very unfortunate that the sound was not worked out properly.

    Reply
  19. Charles HollanderNovember 11, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    I have seen Godot 3 or 4 times; my wife has seen it 6 or 7 times. I loved seeing it. My first response was to recall Keats’ sonnet on rereading Lear: “Once again, the fierce dispute/ Betwixt damnation and impassioned clay/ Must I burn through.” It well expresses the pain, the necessity and the elevation that I feel coming back to the play. Thank you.

    I have a few particular questions:

    1) You had the title character pronounced GOD-o, rather than Go-DOT, which I am more used to. The former is Irish-English, the latter French. I well understand the attraction of stressing God in the name, but I prefer it as a background possibility rather than a spoken fact. Besides, you quote Beckett in your program as saying, “If I had wanted to say God, I would have said so.”

    2) I didn’t quite understand the tree being suspended in space. It rather erases the possibility that they might hang themselves from it, had they brought decent rope. Why wasn’t the tree rooted?

    3) A fellow theatergoer took the cue from Vladimir’s increasingly uncertain denial (Not at all, not at all, not…at…all, as I remember it) to Estragon’s query whether Pozzo was Godot; he pointed out that Pozzo sported a white beard, just as the boy described Godot. Were you pointing at that surmise?

    Reply
  20. The play is about the loss of a prevailing symbol-system– in this case, the loss of the power of the Christian archetype of the Cross, as represented by the tree hovering over the lunar landscape of existential alienation, and the character’s repeated references to a no-longer efficacious Christian faith. We too are continuing in 2013 to live through an epoch that lacks a major symbol-system– hence the play’s continuing relevance. All the characters, including the plutocratic Pozzo and the minimum-wage Lucky, are trapped in endless cycles of time and circumstance, going nowhere. It all feels endless, a cosmic Huis Clos.

    Reply

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