Tragicomedy ‘Godot’: Trailing two tramps

Some plays are so comical they keep an audience laughing throughout.  Others are downright serious. Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot” gives theatergoers a totally unique experience; it dwells on the ageless theme of mankind’s search for the meaning of life.

Director Andy Long said he chose “Godot” for Richland’s first fall production because he decided it was time for some of his acting students to attempt a really challenging play.

“Godot” opened in Paris in 1953 at the Left Bank Théâtre de Babylone and won the Nobel Prize for Literature the same year. It revolutionized theater as an art form and is considered one of the most important plays ever written.

“This is the most difficult play we have done since I’ve been hired here seven years ago,” Long said. “It’s a tragicomedy in that it’s filled with humor. But, it’s that kind of funny that you laugh and then go, wait a minute, this isn’t so funny.”

The play revolves around two seemingly homeless tramps, Vladimir and Estragon, who bide their time on a country road waiting for someone named Godot to show up.

“Godot’ has, at its core, a central theme,” Long said, and it is this: “Mankind is waiting for God.  While mankind waits, mankind plays games. Some of those games are fun.  Some of those games are cruel. Every so often, a messenger comes and says, ‘Godot will come soon.  Just keep waiting.’ Mankind keeps playing games.”

Carlos Hernandez (Lucky), left, Carter Brown (Estragon), Shae Hardwick (Pozzo), and Jabin Lewis (Vladimir) during rehearsal of Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot.” 

Carlos Hernandez (Lucky), left, Carter Brown (Estragon), Shae Hardwick (Pozzo), and Jabin Lewis (Vladimir) during rehearsal of Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot.” 

Long said Beckett never revealed who Godot was in the play;  however, Long believes the character represents God.

“That’s one of the beautiful things of this play,” he said.  “Beckett leaves it up to the interpretation of the individual viewer, kind of like a painting.”

The cast includes seven Richland male acting students.

Jabin Lewis plays Vladimir, who Long said represents the intellectual side of man, whereas Carter Brown plays Estragon, a character representing the physicality of everything human: eating, sleeping and just existing. Shae Hardwick plays Pozzo and Carlos Hernandez as Lucky – in a master/slave relationship.

Pozzo, Long said, “represents those in this world who are financially secure. They have everything they need whereas Lucky represents the millions of people in this world who do not.Vladimir and Estragon are always moving throughout the play, yet never reach a destination. A messenger named “a boy,” played by Jordan Bradford, brings messages about Godot to them.

In addition, there are two understudies:  Andrew Walker Martinez for Vladimir/Estragon, and Will Frederick for Pozzo/Lucky.

Long said he would like the play to be funny. “I want people to enjoy it, laugh and then talk about it afterwards,” he said. He hopes they will have some interesting conversations with their spouse or family members about what’s really important in their lives.

“It’s what Vladimir and Estragon are trying to achieve in their fumbling, bungling way,” he said.  “They’re trying to figure out what is most important in their life to accomplish. So much of the time, we just kind of float through life going from one thing to another.”

“Godot” will run at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 11-14 in the Fannin Performance Hall. It’s two acts, almost two hours long, with an intermission. It’s free for students, faculty, staff and the general public. No reservations are needed.

Long said “Godot” isn’t suitable for kids but OK for teenagers. After its run, he and the cast will travel to the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival – Texas Festival, at San Angelo State University Oct. 25-29 to compete.

Richland’s second fall production will be “Ride” by Eric Lane Nov. 15-18.