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Monday, August 5, 2013

Beckett's "Godot": 60 years and still waiting...

STILL WAITING: Jake Krakovsky (left) as Vladimir and Seth Langer (right) as Estragon in Samuel Becketts Waiting for Godot. The production at Fabrefaction Theatre this weekend celebrates the 60th anniversary of the play.
  • Stuart Langer
  • STILL WAITING: Jake Krakovsky (left) as Vladimir and Seth Langer (right) as Estragon in Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot." The production at Fabrefaction Theatre this weekend celebrates the 60th anniversary of the play.

It was in 1953 at the Théâtre de Babylone in Paris where not much first happened. This year marks the 60th anniversary of the first theatrical production of Samuel Beckett's play Waiting for Godot, the absurdist classic now famous for (spolier alert?) the non-arrival of its title character.

Though the show was created on the thinnest of shoestrings (a suitcase carried by the character Lucky was literally pulled from the trash) and early reviews were mixed (at one performance, the curtain had to brought down due to the din of derisive hoots and whistles from the audience), the play has since gone on to be understood as one of the greatest and most significant works of art of the 20th century.

Atlanta productions of Beckett's plays are somewhat rare, so we were excited and curious to hear that a new company we'd never heard of will be performing Godot this weekend at Fabrefaction Theatre in West Midtown to mark the occasion of the play's 60th year. We caught up with the artists of "Fulham and Clapham Present" to ask a few questions about what they have planned.

Tell us a little bit about yourselves and your group.
"Fulham and Clapham Present" is led by Seth Langer and Jake Krakovsky, Atlanta natives and artistic collaborators since the age of seven. We met in the second grade at the Greenfield Hebrew Academy, where our friendship was fated by the alphabetic proximity of our last names. At Greenfield, we performed together in plays and talent shows, and in our free time began to write our own sketches and scenes. Although we attended separate high schools and colleges, we've maintained a close personal and creative relationship, collaborating on a number of different projects as writers, performers, directors, or even just outside eyes. "Fulham and Clapham Present" arose out of a desire to operate underneath a cohesive identity ... Currently, the F&CP team includes emerging artists we have met through our colleges, high-schools, and our work within the Atlanta professional theatre world. Waiting for Godot is the first official F&CP production, however its members have a lengthy history of collaboration, and will continue to create together in the future.

WAITING FOR THE MAN: Samuel Becketts Waiting for Godot had its theatrical premiere at Théâtre de Babylone in Paris in 1953, pictured above. A new Atlanta production at Fabrefaction Theatre this weekend helps mark the 60th anniversary.
  • WAITING FOR THE MAN: Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot" had its theatrical premiere at Théâtre de Babylone in Paris in 1953, pictured above. A new Atlanta production at Fabrefaction Theatre this weekend helps mark the 60th anniversary.
Why did you decide to put on a production of Waiting for Godot?
Waiting for Godot is our favorite play. It has been since we first read it in high school. Our Godot started as a semester-long project under Tim McDonough at Emory University. It was in his course, Developing a Role, where we first began to delve into Beckett's text and develop our own unique aesthetic. From there, the play incubated and marinated in our collective mind-brain until this past spring, when we applied for a handful of project grants - and recieved a couple! Thus encouraged, we took to work making our pipe-dream a pipe-reality.

We're putting on Godot because not enough people have experienced it. A staple on required reading lists, it has bored and confused high school literature students for generations. It's a difficult read. The characters say the same things over and over, and the play defies many traditional stage conventions. But when seen on stage, experienced live, as a communal event, it's undeniable that Godot accesses unique fundamental truths of the human experience. We all wait. We all struggle to connect with others. We all get hungry, tired, sad, and perplexed. This play is for everybody because it is about everybody. It asks questions that all people ask of themselves daily. Waiting for Godot is a play that illustrates the utter strangeness of being a person. It illustrates the utter strangeness of being anything at all.

What's your take on the play? What should audiences expect?
We feel that Godot deals with essential human struggles - certainty and uncertainty, friendship and enmity, subjugation and dominance, purpose and...lack thereof. Beckett subtitled Waiting for Godot "a tragicomedy in two acts," and our interpretation embodies the inseperable intertwinement of the tragic and comic. This play is very, very funny - and very, very sad. Often at the same time. We have a passion for clowning and Commedia dell'Arte - both highly physical styles of theater that are major influences on our Godot. Our stylistic approach is a wild amalgam of the Absurd Existentialist philosophy of Albert Camus, the cartoon antics of Looney Tunes and Spongebob Squarepants, and the vaudeville comedy of The Marx Brothers. This Godot is visually stunning: a grotesque ballet of cosmic metaphors and tumbling butts.

Any thoughts or guesses: Who or what is Godot?
We try to answer this question every time we perform the play. But the play hasn't told us. We're still waiting.

If you could perform the show anywhere in the world to mark the 60th anniversary, where would that be?
The craggy, forsaken cliffs of Inishmore, one of the Aran Islands off of Ireland's western coast. Or maybe the alleyway behind the Clermont Lounge.


Fulham and Clapham Present Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot," Thursday through Sunday, August 8-11, at Fabrefaction Theater Company, 999 Brady Ave NW. All shows 7:30 p.m. All tickets $5 at the door, cash or credit. For more information, visit www.fulhamandclapham.tumblr.com.

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