Sunday, April 19, 2009

"Waiting for Godot"

A new production of Samuel Becket's "Waiting for Godot" at Studio 54 in New York stars John Goodman. NYTimes reports, giving insight into Goodman as an actor, his challenges in life and for his role as Pozzo.

Pozzo is the least sympathetic and in some ways the trickiest character in “Godot.” He cruelly mistreats Lucky, and yet he is as lost and vulnerable as all the others. He is “an insecure gasbag who needs to be listened to and have things done for him,” as Mr. Goodman put it.

Anthony Page, the director of the production, said: “ ‘Godot’ is actually a very hard play to learn. Nothing is apparently very logical, and there’s nothing to guide you except the words until you get into it.” As for Pozzo, “It’s a very difficult part to take in if you’re not used to being onstage.”

Mr. Page knew Beckett and worked with him on an early revival of the play at the Royal Court Theater in London in 1964. “Beckett was very precise,” he recalled. “He didn’t want theories or any level of intellectualizing. He paid a lot of attention to the tone of voice and to the relationships among the characters. And he cared a great deal about the silences and the pauses.”

Pointing to the set, a barren, rocky mountain pass designed by Santo Loquasto, he added: “I feel a bit guilty. Beckett’s stage directions call for a bare stage. But I felt that in such a big theater, with such a large stage, we had to have a set. I don’t know whether he would have approved.”

About the cast, he said, he felt more secure. “Beckett was very free about actors,” he said. “And these performances — oh yes, I think he would have approved of them.”

The pregnant silences, the pauses, the absences interest me; I find the extraordinary difficulty of reading absences challenging and rewarding. I have been wanting to read some of Becket's plays lately, but haven't had the time. Maybe I should just go see this one (if I can afford it).

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