When we chose independent readings for English Literature last trimester, I jumped straight for Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett. In the absurdist play, two tramps, Vladimir and Estragon bicker at each other as they wait for the arrival of Godot. Instead, two strange characters – Pozzo and his insane slave Lucky pay a visit. After learning about the play from a literary perspective, analyzing character traits and themes and context, I was excited to put that learning into practice.
When Arabian Nights ended and we embarked on our independent projects, I had my chance. I asked my group to put on Beckett’s masterpiece. They agreed and we set off to work. Waiting for Godot provides more freedom then most productions. Just about the only line connoting a specific setting or time period references the construction of the Eiffel Tower forty years before the play’s events. Other than that, all Samuel Beckett tells us about is a road, a bog, and a lone tree. I joked about incorporating a pirate setting – a hooked and eyepatched Pozzo, a cannon and steering wheel on the stage – but we ultimately decided against such ridiculousness. The concept we eventually settled on envisioned Estragon and Vladimir as hikers of sorts, placing their vagabond equality in contrast with Pozzo’s and Lucky’s hierarchical relationship. For the minimalist set, we used a huge tree branch hung from the ceiling and a pile of suitcases and backpacks. I envision them as linking the main jar actors to the collective memory of all society, but it is open to audience interpretation. As we came up with ideas and blocked our scenes, I became increasingly excited for what we’d put together.
Unfortunately, we bit a far larger piece than we could swallow. With music recitals, English projects, camp orientations and jobs taking up most of energy, there was only so much time we could invest into the production. We stayed through flex time and after school on occasion, ran lines in the evenings, and met up once during the weekend, but there just wasn’t enough rehearsal for a crisp performance. Lines, even in our cut version of the first act, were a huge struggle. We performed last week to a far larger audience than we hoped for. I was banking on only Mrs. Beaumier’s 5th hour sophomores showing up, but Ms. Figg decided to send out an email to the entire faculty. Our performance went decently. On the one hand, I was disappointed with all the as libbing we needed to do to compensate for mistakes with lines. At the same time, on stage, our production was much more dynamic and funny than we expected. The energy really drove us!
As it always is when you conclude a production, saying goodbye is bittersweet. I wish that I had more time to rehearse and another chance to perform the play we put so much work into. On performance day, ideas we had previously never considered manifested on stage. If we performed again, much of that onstage improvisation would have solidified into blocking. Even though our experience was truncated, I loved it so much. Taking on the role of actor, director, and costume and set designer alongside my friends taught me so much about theater.
I’ll remember this terrific experience for a long time and am glad I had such a fun opportunity to say goodbye to Homestead Drama!
Written By: Mark Usatinsky
3rd Trimester 2015
Theatre Production Seminar