New Orleans Waits for Godot

Waiting For Godot

Photo by Piero Fissore — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

We waited for Red Cross. We waited for George Bush. We waited for rescue. We waited for housing. We waited for FEMA… Waiting. I can tell you about waiting.

Posted from the Associated Press this week in Fest News, audience member Tyrone Grave perfectly captured the connection between a place and a performance.

Paul Chan, the digital media and video artist, is working with Creative Time, the Classical Theatre of Harlem, and director Christopher McElroen to produce Waiting for Godot, for free, outdoors in New Orleans’ Ninth Ward and Gentilly.

The production is part of a multi-faceted project including free art seminars, educational programs, theatre workshops, a book and film on the process, and partnerships with local universities, high schools, and community organizations.

What makes great plays timeless is that the experience of being in the audience can be so immediate.

Godot has been performed in prisons, in Sarajevo during the war, and in apartheid-era South Africa. (That SA production, produced by Baxter Theatre at University of Cape Town, directed by Donald Howarth and featuring Winston Ntshona and John Kani still ranks as one of the great performances of the play — as hysterically funny as it was searingly tragic.)

The work of Samuel Beckett might not be the most obvious choice to bring a community together. However, when you maintain the integrity of Beckett’s specific choices, and place the play in a context that reaches beyond the stage to become an event of resonance and insight, a community, such as NOLA’s, responds.

Out of a desolate landscape and a crushing sense of abandonment, Vladimir and Estragon come together to explore their world, find humor, and to believe.

The opening night crowd was too large to accommodate everyone who wanted to be there. Performances continue next weekend.

Nothing to be done, indeed.

- Bill Reichblum

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