HWS Theatre will present Waiting for Godot, a tragicomedy by Samuel Beckett, on Thursday, April 12 and Friday, April 13 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, April 14 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. in the McDonald Theatre of the Gearan Center for the Performing Arts.
Influenced by post-World War II existentialism and vaudeville theatre (popularized by Charlie Chaplin) Waiting for Godot muses on the way humans pass time while waiting for someone or something to save them from a barren existence. The HWS production stars Eros Cabrera ’19, Luis Figueroa ’18, Thomas Perry ’19, Christopher Williams ’19 and Patrick Wolber ’18.
Associate Professor of Theatre Heather May says the challenge of serving as director of Waiting for Godot is bringing to life Beckett’s precise cues and dialogue. “Beckett’s writing is exquisitely precise. His language, poetic and evocative, has a rhythm that must drive the show. There is no room for paraphrasing. His stage directions are equally precise and integral,” says May, who most recently directed the HWS Theatre production of The Etymology of Bird and serves as artistic director of Mosaic NY, a social justice theatre company.
Once the cast had intensely memorized their scripts, however, May says they began to find “freedom in Beckett’s prescription.” In preparation for slapstick scenes, the cast participated in a five-hour workshop based on Tamar Rogoff’s approach to writing scripts for the body.
“Body scripting means creating movements that are reactionary to the space and dialogue between characters,” says Williams, who plays the role of the vagabond Estragon. “Because the play is complex and challenging this work brings the characters to life.”
Figueroa, who plays Lucky, has applied his study of movement in theatre and dance courses to the development of his character. For him, rehearsals have involved experimenting with ways to show his character’s role as a servant and decoding “the words of Samuel Beckett and the world of the play.”
May became increasingly interested in directing Waiting for Godot when she realized themes in the play continue to resonate today in the context of climate change.
“Written in the wake of the annihilation and devastation of World War II, Beckett’s play is a profound tragicomic reflection about what happens when we wait for others to save us,” says May.
Stage manager Casey Cady ’18 has also found inspiration in the play’s allusions to climate change. In an independent study attached to the production, Cady is researching the connections between the play and local waste production. She will present her research through a storymap and poster that will be displayed in the L. Thomas Melly ’52, L.H.D.’02 Lobby outside of the McDonald Theatre during the performances.
Others working on the production include: Jack Corey ‘20, Kathleen Fowkes ’18 and Xiaonan Geng ’19 as assistant stage managers and Anika Hanson ’18 as fight choreographer. Additional collaborators include lighting, scenic design and technical director Ed Hallborg, costume designer Dixon Reynolds and sound designer Kelly Walker.
The Frame/Work series will host a pre-show talk on Friday, April 13 at 4:30 p.m. in Williams 201. Professor of Physics Donald Spector will present “What ‘Waiting for Godot’ Can Teach Us About Multiple Universes.” Spector will discuss why physicists are interested in Waiting for Godot as a medium for “understanding the nature of multiple universes” and his talk will pose the question, “What is the struggle that ensues when the empirical world does not conform to our pre-existing convictions?” The event is free and open to the public.
A post-show talk will also take place on Friday, April 13 with members of the Waiting for Godot production team in McDonald Theatre.
Tickets for Waiting for Godot are available at the Gearan Center for the Performing Arts box office, Monday-Friday at 3-5 p.m. Tickets are $5 for the general public. A limited number of free rush tickets will be available to students one hour before the start of each performance.