Waiting For Godot

I hear this play thrown around when people talk about the great plays of the world. According to Wikipedia, it was voted “the most significant English language play of the 20th century.”. Interestingly enough though, I never see it performed, and unlike many famous plays I’ve never seen a movie adaptation. So what gives, is this really a good play? Are there any memorable moments or scenes that jump out at you? I started reading it twice and stopped both times because I found it dreadfully boring. I have a sneaking suspicion that this is just a postmodern hipster trend, but I am willing to give it the benefit of the doubt. What am I missing here?

Waiting for Godot on IMDB.

But see Weeds, a Hollywood movie with Nick Nolte.

Before reading “Waiting for Godot” first read The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus and before reading that read Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.

Plays are written to be performed onstage; they are just not the same when read from the page. I’ve read most of Shakespeare’s plays, and they’re good, but they are much, much better when performed (even a bad performance)!

Also, one of the reasons Waiting for Godot is not performed as often as many other plays is the small cast of characters. The majority of plays are put on by high school & college departments, or by small volunteer theater groups. They prefer a play with a larger number of parts, including a number of supporting roles. Because they have many students or volunteers who want to appear on stage, and some of them need a supporting role, they aren’t ready for a leading role. If you continually choose plays with only a few characters to play, you will soon see your volunteers leaving.

Also, this play is very static, visually & action-wise. Audiences do not find it as interesting as many other types of plays. And most school or community theater groups are very dependent on audience ticket sales to keep going.


“Honey, would you like to see a play tonight?”
“Sure. Let’s see what’s on at the local high school.”

How much of the audience of a typical high school play are not people who are somehow connected to the school and its students? Probably about 10% at best.

While this is true for high school productions, the very opposite is true for repertories, mainly because of Equity Waiver, and the expense of paying for a large cast. Why do you think there are so many one-man and one-woman shows?

I’ve seen at least one small rep producation of Godot.

Also, Beckett tried to retain tight control of the play, and refused to authorise most adaptations, insisting on overseeing stuff - he sued a couple of all-female productions IIRC, which might make people leery of reinterpreting it for film or TV

The scene I most remember is where Pozzo and Lucky, the two secondary characters, reappear with their statuses reversed (Lucky, the mute simpleton, is now Pozzo’s cruel master).

There was a famous production, directed by Mike Nichols, that starred Steve Martin and Robin Williams. They departed from the script somewhat.

Even when they didn’t depart from the script, they managed to depart from the script – Williams took the line with repeated “dee-dee-dee-dee” and read it like the opening bars from “The Twilight Zone”.

I’ve seen an all-female “Waiting for Godot”, by the way – they put it on at Wellesley back in the 1970s. I’m sure Beckett couldn’t sue to stop ALL female performances. That production, by the way, made few or no changes to the script.

I didn’t know it was voted most significant play of the 20th century. It came on TV once and I watched it all alone, when I was unable to display that I was watching it to any other trendy wankers, but I enjoyed it anyway. I could relate to the characters and their situation, and I thought Lucky’s speech was exactly the sort of thing I’d say if I were given the chance.

Those two phrases are redundant…

As a former Lucky, I recall this is not right: the rope was around my neck the whole bloody time. In the second act Lucky leads Pozzo because Pozzo is blind. It’s questionable whether lucky was a simpleton, but he’s certainly not mute in the first act. He is dumb in the second.

There is a movie adaptation starring Burgess Meredith and Zero Mostel that’s pretty faithful to the script, and well worth watching if you can find it.

It’s a weird play, and definitely one you have to watch in order to understand. The last production I saw, the silences between lines were so long that the audience started squirming, wondering if the actors had fallen asleep or something. (I read somewhere that when it was first performed people left after the first act, thinking it was over. Someone famously described the plot as “Nothing happens. Twice.”)

I love it, although at the same time I find it incredibly depressing.

If you liked this play, you’ll love the movie My Dinner With Andre.

I’d respect Beckett more if he had not given the offstage McGuffin-figure a name with “God” in it. Sam! Try a little subtlety!

It’s not exactly a crowd-pleaser - it’s absurdist, static and dark. I’ve read it and seen it, and my experience is that you’re left at the end with impressions and your own interpretation of what happened. You can’t say for sure that anything happened at all. That’s kind of a disincentive to performance. And as Mr. Dibble says, Beckett’s estate is really hard to work with.

Is everything a “trend” when people don’t like something or don’t get it? People use the t-word like it’s going out of style! The play has been acclaimed for more than 50 years. It’s not a trend and it’s not just hipsters. Is its appeal limited? Yes. It’s not exactly The Producers, that’s for sure- and I liked The Producers.

My wife used to do theater production, so I have had this play inflicted on me several times, in different arrangements and interpretations.

Each time, it has bored me silly, and seems more of a self-congratulatory rite of passage for the theater in-crowd and the crew, but not something suited for an audience.

Trend was the wrong word - I knew it when I wrote it but it was late & I was tired. GargoyleWB’s post is more what I was getting at.

I would like to find it. Looks like it isn’t easy =D

I just find it interesting that something so critically acclaimed is such an opaque piece of work that it hasn’t found any traction in mainstream audiences. For those of you who liked it, which scene was your favorite?

In my home town, the only place to see a play was the local high school, the junior college, or the amateur theatre group.

And I think absolutely everyone in town was “somehow connected to the school” – either they had kids in the school, or their friends or neighbors or relatives kids were in the school.

There aren’t really scenes in the traditional sense. It’s mostly two guys standing around and talking to each other. Occasionally, someone else will come on stage and talk to the other characters briefly. There aren’t even really that many memorable lines. Still, it’s a fantastic work, although I could see it being absolutely godawful in the hands of the wrong people.

One of the first times I ever laughed out loud at a post on the SDMB was by jjimm.

I believe it was a thread about "how to kill a plot with one sentence”.

His answer:

“Hello Godot!”