The result of this approach was evident in both the Gate’s Godot and Calder’s Endgame: scrupulously faithful productions, performed with passion and insight by committed casts, but dominated by imagery so familiar that all surprise was absent.
Perversely, it seems to me, familiarity has made these plays more inaccessible: their visual motifs are so well known beforehand that they are more easily dismissed. Godot is “the one where nothing happens”; Endgame is “the one with the old pair in the bins”; Happy Days is “the one about the woman buried in the sand.” Like conceptual art, the point becomes the idea, not engagement with the work.
That's a powerful point: what interest would Beckett's heirs have in promoting his plays as cliches? And why such worry? After everything that's been done to stage and manipulate other classic UK theatrical works, the likes of Wilde and Shakespeare haven't been perverted. In any event, leave it to the audience to decide what works and what doesn't.
More from Conversational Reading:
- The Waves on Stage Katie Mitchell writes about how she brought Virginia Woolfe’s fragmentary novel The Waves to the stage: Woolf wrote The Waves between July 1929 and late...
- Beckett Centennial The New York Sun has some info on Grove's forthcoming boxed set of virtually all of Beckett's works. Grove Press, Beckett's original American publisher, has...
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