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Preview: Waiting for Godot

By Christine A. Hurd, Contributing Writer

Waiting for Godot

April 14, 8:30 p.m., April 15, 7:30 p.m., April 16, 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Loeb Experimental Theater

Directed by Jan Luksic ’11

Produced by Andrew N. Shindi ’13, Jennifer A. Ingersoll ’11, and Milorad Dragicevic ’13

The tree is upside-down, the mound a heap of astronaut clothing, and the characters of Samuel Beckett’s existential leviathan “Waiting for Godot” will be caged by the audience and giant landscape mirrors. Even though this iconic work has been performed for almost 60 years, next week it will show for its first time ever at Harvard—but as the staging would suggest, director Jan Luksic ’11 has no intention of taking a traditional approach.

“Godot” follows Vladimir (Christopher J. Carothers ‘11) and Estragon (Peter K. Bestoso ‘14) as they literally wait for a person named Godot. In the meantime, they converse about life, memories, and even suicide. Luksic believes that “Godot” can be confounding to its audience, though maintains that it is universal at a base level. “Everything is a metaphor and it’s very applicable to the second half of the 20th century. It’s applicable to everybody. The characters are gladiators fighting for their lives, fighting for their lives through Beckett,” Luksic says.

Due to the Beckett estate’s zero-tolerance policy on changing “Godot,” the notion of gladiators fighting through the work is not far from the experience of the cast. “The main challenge is working within the constraints. Every step of how you walk, look, and think is prescribed,” Bestoso says. “If you come looking for a traditional play, you’ll be disappointed, then pleasantly surprised.” Since the dialogue must remain exactly as Beckett intended, Luksic and his technical staff have chosen to innovate through staging.

Stage manager David L. Orama ’12 notes that the rigid nature of “Godot” can reward sustained immersion. “When we had the read-through originally, some lines didn’t stand out, but each new time I engage with the text, I get something deep from it,” Orama says.

This level of intellectual participation not only extends to the actors and technicians, but also to the audience. Carothers says, “you can interpret Godot anyway you want to, but you have to be willing to engage with it. The text has no content. It’s all emotion, and so it essentially sets you free.”

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