“The Literature of the Absurd” is a mirrored image on outstanding authors within the Absurdist custom — Beckett, Camus and past — and the methods by which their writings can intertwine with life in typically shocking methods.
“What will we do now?”
“Sure, however whereas ready.”
“What about hanging ourselves?”
“Hmm. It’d give us an erection.”
Seated comfortably behind a plastic desk, I watched my two classmates battle with the unpredictable strains and jarring cadence of Samuel Beckett’s Ready for Godot. I had chosen this scene to guage their means to play off one another, to create one thing full of life and fascinating regardless of the obvious nonsense of the dialogue. I wasn’t letting them on, although — all I had informed my auditioners was that they had been taking part in the a part of two previous males with no different obvious pastime than ready by the roadside for a person named “Godot” to point out up. Once they completed studying, I allow them to go, befuddled, to audition for one more director’s present.
Each spring, my highschool’s theater division gave us seniors a possibility to direct a one-act play of our alternative. My alternative was not a standard one — I had desperately wished to direct Ready for Godot, the play I had been obsessing over for at the least the previous 12 months. I felt that I had a transparent imaginative and prescient for a piece that many individuals nonetheless failed to know, and this might maybe be my one likelihood to share that imaginative and prescient with others. Whereas I couldn’t placed on the complete play, I made a decision that the primary twenty minutes, an excerpt consisting primarily of an prolonged, rambling dialog between the 2 primary characters, Vladimir and Estragon, can be sufficient. Fittingly, the final line of this excerpt was the identical as the primary, each instances uttered by Estragon: “Nothing to be finished.”
Earlier than the primary rehearsal with my two chosen actors, Maia (Vladimir) and Kate (Estragon), I deliberated at size over how a lot to inform them in regards to the play’s premise, characters and that means. On the one hand, I used to be fairly curious to see the place they might take the play’s uncommon dialogue with out instruction, and the way they may select to play their characters unbiased of my steering. On the opposite, I frightened that entering into blind is likely to be a waste of time if the actors struggled to know the that means of their strains or had been pissed off by the play’s lack of clear course.
I had a imaginative and prescient for the play. I wanted to verify audiences stayed engaged for twenty minutes of dialogue, and within the full absence of any plot or clear message. I wished them puzzled; questioning, like I had once I first learn the play, what the purpose of all of it was. I wished them to assume. I couldn’t have them falling asleep to actors reciting brief, stilted strains devoid of any humor or depth. Earlier than having Maia or Kate learn even a single line, I ended up describing the play at size, and my precise plans for it, for practically half an hour: half of our first rehearsal.
On the finish of our first read-through, I requested the actors for his or her first impressions. Their response: it was humorous. I thought-about the rehearsal successful.
For the following seven weeks, we met thrice every week to rehearse. Quickly the play was taking form: I defined the meanings of obscure strains, prescribed particular actions across the stage to accompany sure bits of dialogue and gave every character distinctive traits, like a nervous hat-wringing tic for Vladimir and a painful, shuffling stroll for Estragon. I handled every second with precision, shaping the amount, tone, and temper once I felt the actors’ selections didn’t match with my expectations for the scene.
I wasn’t at all times fully certain what I would really like, however I may definitely inform what didn’t sit proper with me once I noticed it. For one factor, I didn’t need the play to get too comical, regardless of Maia’s and Kate’s preliminary reactions. I remembered watching clips from a well-liked manufacturing of the complete play that starred Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart within the lead roles. Unsurprisingly, it was an excellent efficiency. However it struck me that they had been just a bit too humorous in some locations, not fairly capable of forestall the comedy of every scene from overwhelming what I noticed because the deeper message of the play: of discovering, or creating, that means from mundanity. I struggled to determine the place this steadiness may lie for my very own manufacturing, and to determine how I may exactly management the tone of the play by means of the notes I gave my very own actors on their actions and supply.
One afternoon a number of weeks into our rehearsals, we had been visited by the top of the theater division and director of our full-length exhibits, Jeremy. By this level I felt the present was in fine condition, for probably the most half. Maia and Kate each remembered the actions I had given them, recited their strains with the cadences I had instructed them to and had been well-practiced at portraying the idiosyncrasies and peculiarities of their respective characters. However I nonetheless puzzled if one thing was lacking — some degree of naturalism and luxury from the actors that might sweep away the final vestiges of awkwardness and rework the play into the colourful, full of life vignette of comically bleak circumstances I knew it wanted to be.
Jeremy was solely there to look at about 5 minutes of the complete 20-minute play. Earlier than he left, although, he made one suggestion: that sooner or later, I cease and ask the actors what they considered their elements — what their strains meant to them, and why their characters is likely to be saying them.
This was one thing I hadn’t even thought-about. As an actor, I at all times strived to check my character as totally as attainable, together with their motivations in any given scenario, how they may react to different characters’ actions, and, particularly, why they had been saying every line. However by assuming that I wanted to clarify the themes and messages of Godot myself and punctiliously prescribe each motion and motion to the actors — each alternative which may represent a possibility to essentially act — maybe I had been denying them the fundamental privilege of decoding their characters as they themselves noticed match.
Throughout our subsequent run-through, I made a decision to cease and have Kate analyze one necessary line, spoken in response to Vladmir’s refusal to hear to a different of Estragon’s nightmares and Estragon’s subsequent suggestion that they half methods: “Wouldn’t it, Didi, be actually too unhealthy? If you consider the fantastic thing about the way in which. And the goodness of the wayfarers.” For my part, this line referred to Vladimir and Estragon themselves, the wayfarers on their journey to a greater place with Godot.
However Kate had a unique interpretation. To her, the wayfarers represented those that Didi and Gogo may meet alongside the way in which, these whose lives they may briefly intersect with and be touched by all through the monotony of their existence. This was a view I had by no means thought-about earlier than, and it gave Estragon’s character a extra hopeful bent — much less self-centered and dour, even perhaps trying ahead towards the adventures forward as a substitute of simply grumbling in regards to the circumstances. For a play by which I wanted to create a way of movement with none true plot to go off, I favored the change.
Over the following few weeks, at any time when attainable, I requested Maia and Kate what they considered sure strains or moments, and listened to and regarded their views, no matter how totally different they may have been from my very own. I nonetheless directed — I offered notes on timing, actions throughout the stage I wished to accompany sure strains, moments I wished to be extra aggressive or extra hushed. However by letting the actors assume deeply about their very own characters and the motives or reactions these characters might need that I had not thought-about, I discovered that every scene felt extra animated, full of life, and constant.
Maybe what this manufacturing of Ready for Godot wanted was not my very own singular opinion of the way it ought to look, however the mixed effort of three individuals who understood the play every in their very own methods, and who every got here to their very own conclusions. When the time got here to place the play on earlier than an viewers, I used to be exceptionally happy with our joint creation — and nothing remained to be finished.