Marin Theatre Company begins 2013 and the second half of its critically acclaimed 46th Season with Samuel Beckett's modern classic, Waiting for Godot, which runs from January 24 to February 17. MTC's artistic director Jasson Minadakis directs, returning to "this greatest of 20th-century plays" (The New York Times) over a decade after he first directed an "excellent, electrifying" (The Cincinnati Enquirer) production at Cincinnati Shakespeare Festival. MTC's production features a talented cast: Oregon Shakespeare Festival company member Mark Bedard, popular Bay Area actors James Carpenter and Mark Anderson Philips and Cirque du Soliel and Ringling Bros. clown Ben Johnson, as well as two local southern Marin youths. Opening night is on Tuesday, January 29.
"I am excited to be returning to Waiting for Godot," Minadakis said. "It's one of my favorite - if not my favorite - play. In fact, it's a large part of the reason I fell in love with the theater. When I last directed the play in 2000, I promised myself I would return to it every decade. Of course, first I needed to find a cast I wanted to re-explore this play with. A few years ago, I saw Mark Bedard's work for the first time at OSF in a legendary performance of Goldoni's The Servant of Two Masters and I knew I wanted to work with him in my next Godot. Then, two seasons ago, I found Mark Anderson Phillips fooling around with his shoes during rehearsal for Tiny Alice and I immediately saw him as Estragon. It was then that I knew I had Beckett's two clowns."
The play follows Didi and Gogo as they dally by the side of the road. They are expecting the imminent arrival of another man. They've asked this man for nothing very definite, but eagerly anticipate his reply. And though they admit that they do not know him well and won't even recognize him when they see him, they wait. They wait for Godot. Voted most significant English language play of the 20th century by 800 playwrights, actors, directors and journalists in a poll by the Royal National Theatre, Waiting for Godot remains, after innumerable productions worldwide over the past 60 years, "a witty and poetic conundrum" (The Guardian), "humorous and deeply human" (The Press), "entertainment of a high order?" (NY Times) and "something that will securely lodge in a corner of your mind for as long as you live" (The Sunday Times).
Originally written by playwright Samuel Beckett in French in the late 1940s, En attendant Godot premiered on January 5, 1953, at the 233-seat Théâtre de Babylone in Paris, a year after an abridged version of the play was performed at the Club d'Essai de la Radio's studio for broadcast on French radio. The play's first two translations were in German, one by Elmer Tophoven (in collaboration with Beckett) and one by an anonymous inmate at Remscheid prison in Lüttringhausen. The German premiere of Warten auf Godot was September 8, 1953, at Schlosspark-theater in Berlin (the inmate's version premiered on November 29, 1953, at the prison). The English version of the play, which Beckett translated himself, premiered on August 3, 1955, at the Arts Theatre in London and, later, transferred to the Criterion Theatre in the West End (though the play was heavily censored by the lord chamberlain after it transferred to the publicly owned and operated theater). Waiting for Godot received its US premiere on January 3, 1956, at the Coconut Grove Playhouse in Florida, with its Broadway premiere following in April of that same year.
With each of its premieres, Godot faced audience controversy (which fuelEd Strong ticket sales and more productions) and mixed critical response with The Sunday Times championing the play as "insidiously exciting" and The New York Times highlighting the excellent performances in an otherwise "puzzling... uneventful, maundering, loquacious drama." Turning 60 years old this month (January 2013), Godot has since become Beckett's most successful play and is often produced. Two of the more notable recent revivals both occurred in 2009 - one on London's West End with Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Patrick Stewart and one on Broadway with Nathan Lane and Bill Irwin. Recent Bay Area productions include Tides Theatre (2011), THEOFFCENTER (2010) and A.C.T. (2003). Director Peter Hall, who directed the London premiere of Godot, said of the play's legacy in 2005: