Today marked an anniversary of special significance, to Western literature in general, and to stagecraft in particular ... it was on this day, in 1906, that Samuel Barclay Beckett - Irish playwright, novelist, poet and Nobel laureate - was born.
Online, there are wonderful, virtual centenary celebrations at "Fathoms from Anywhere," presented by the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas, and "The Samuel Beckett Endpage," presented by the University of Antwerp ... to name just a couple.
I could talk at length about the man, his work, his influence and so on ... but I won't. That's already done - and done well - by the folks at Wikipedia, among others.
But I can write about my experience with one of his works. To the right is a photo from a performance of "Waiting for Godot," which inaugurated the Founders Theatre at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, in Odessa, in February, 1994.
In the photo (from the left) are Stephen Cole - Pozzo, Jeff McDonald - Estragon, Scott Lunsford - Lucky, and Michael Trost - Vladimir. Not shown in the photo is Eli Mitchell Hinsz - The Boy. We were directed by Shawn Watson.
To this day, I am left wondering at how I was allowed to trod the boards with such an incredibly talented group, but I was ... and I'm grateful for the opportunity I had. It was not something that came my way often ... and it's not something one sees very often - or at all - on the West Texas stage ... so, I consider myself especially fortunate.
"Godot" is something that often leaves people wondering what has just happened, what is going on, and what's going to happen. One critic described it as a play that, "has achieved a theoretical impossibility, a play in which nothing happens, that yet keeps audiences glued to their seats. What's more, since the second act is a subtly different reprise of the first, he has written a play in which nothing happens, twice."
"It means what it says", Beckett is quoted as saying ... which has left more than a few of us - in the audience, and on the stage - wondering and waiting ... kind of like Gogo and Didi, I guess.
"Well, shall we go?"
"Yes, let's go."
They do not move.
Happy birthday, Mr. Beckett.
With thanks to Frank at BOOKS, INQ. for the heads-up ...