Use Your Intelligence

Waiting for Godot was originally written in French by Samuel Beckett as En Attendent Godot, then he translated it himself into English in the early 1950s. I’m given to understand it doesn’t make much more sense in French though, but then that’s really the point. The plot is simply that two men wait for a third, they talk while they wait – their conversation is mostly absurd and darkly funny, certainly a tragicomedy rather than a simple comedy – and that’s all.

I agree with Anthony Cronin in his biography of Beckett when he says that

One of Beckett’s most notable characteristics is his ability to make truly funny jokes about the genuinely worst aspects of human existence, and nowhere is this talent more evident than in Godot.

If you ever get chance to watch it, you totally should. I was lucky enough to see Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen playing Vladimir and Estragon in London a few years ago, and it was really, really good.

But that’s not to suggest that reading the play isn’t worthwhile too. Actors can bring so much to the characters and the lines but what you don’t see is Samuel Beckett’s stage directions. For example:

VLADAMIR I don’t understand.
ESTRAGON Use your intelligence, can’t you?
Vladamir uses his intelligence.
VLADAMIR (finally). I remain in the dark.

Imagine being an actor and being faced with that. You need to visibly, in the way the audience can see and understand, have your character use their intelligence. While acting is not my profession, I have no idea how I’d even start with that.

I’m not sure ‘fun’ is the right word to describe the play, the comedy is certainly pretty bleak in places, but Waiting for Godot is really entertaining to watch or to read. I reckon it’s probably quite challenging to perform though.

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12 thoughts on “Use Your Intelligence

  1. That reminds me of schooldays – of being pounced on my the teacher to provide an answer, and adopting an ‘I’m giving every ounce of my brain to providing the thoughts you’re looking for’ thoughtful frown, while really waiting for her to get bored nd seize on someone else.

    Liked by 5 people

      1. I wish I still had a copy of the script, I might on a computer disc that I have no way of accessing. It was written in 1996. Essentially it was about two drag queens hoping to meet Bridgett Bardot at a Hollywood Bus stop running into her agent who could quite possibly be the devil in disguise. It was written in the same style as Godot..i wish I could remember the meat of it, but I can’t.

        Liked by 3 people

  2. I enjoyed this in high school, and fully admit I didn’t understand all of it. Great reminder that some things in life just ARE, there is no explanation!

    Liked by 2 people

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