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Sports, arts and activities

AS Drama workshop: Waiting for Godot

As a central component of their coursework requirements, the ACG Parnell College AS-Level drama class recently staged their interpretation of Irish playwright Samuel Beckett’s ‘Waiting for Godot’.

Regarded as Beckett’s most well-known work, the play centres around Vladimir and Estragon, two characters of unspecified origin, waiting on a country road by a tree. As they wait for Godot, who may never arrive, they encounter Pozzo and his companion Lucky on the road.

Adding their own interpretation to the play, the AS drama class workshopped the piece with a modern reading, set in today’s Covid-19 affected world. Last week, their highly anticipated production was performed before students, family, and friends to great acclaim and applause.

As the guiding light behind the play, Speech and Drama teacher Adam Fresco, has long admired the now seventy-year-old, Existentialist play, which is considered a major work of what British Theatre expert, Martin Esslin, deemed ‘The Theatre of The Absurd’.

As Adam observes, “Beckett’s play does not simply cry in the face of life’s relentless cruelty – he meditates, he contemplates, he rages and, yes, for all of life’s absurdity – he laughs. I think that is why, when Beckett translated his play into English, he added the subtitle: ‘A tragicomedy in two acts’.

“Our version, being set in an antiseptic, socially-distanced, post Covid-19 world, remains as relevant, mysterious, odd, strange and absurd as it did 70-years ago when it first created. As to why are we waiting, and who is Godot anyway, we may not answer these questions, but the we did set out to answer the Cambridge AS-Level drama requirement that students produce and film a performance from one of the texts we have been studying this year.

“Interestingly, when it looked like we might be in lockdown, I applied to Cambridge to allow us to perform our show online, emphasising the isolation of each character we found in Beckett’s text, and drawing parallels with the human condition and the restrictions of our new, post Covid-19 world. The authorities at Cambridge agreed. Better yet, we were able to perform our version of Beckett’s masterpiece of The Absurd live, in front of family, whanau and friends, right here at ACG Parnell.”

Featuring AS drama students Jack Chen-Sinclair, Cameron Blyth, Bryce Matthews, and Kevin Yang, supported by stage managers Eli Le Fevre and Lu Yu, the show was presented as a workshop production of a work in progress.

“As one student said, having an audience attend was a bit like inviting people in to watch an exam,” Adam adds. “But it was an exam they passed with flying colours, heaps of energy and a great many laughs at the expense of the absurdity of the human condition.”

More on Beckett
Irish-born writer, Samuel Beckett (1906–1989), was a resident of Paris for most of his adult life. His work offers a tragi-comic view of human existence. In 1969, Beckett was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. His best-known work, Waiting for Godot, was voted the “most significant English language play of the 20th century” in a poll conducted by the Royal National Theatre in 1999.

‘Waiting for Godot’ is Beckett’s translation of his own original French-language play, ‘En attendant Godot’, and is subtitled (in English only) “a tragicomedy in two acts”. The original French text was completed in January 1949, premiering, January 1953 at the Théâtre de Babylone, Paris. The English-language version premiered in London in 1955.

Credits

An AS Drama workshop production of select scenes from Act I, featuring:
Jack Chen-Sinclair as VLADIMIR
Cameron Blyth as ESTRAGON
Bryce Matthews as LUCKY
Kevin Zhenyu Yang as POZZO
Stage Managers: Eli Le Fevre and Lu Yu
Directed by AS Drama Teacher: Adam Fresco
Poster designed by Cameron Blyth