Tuesday, August 27, 2013

(not) waiting for godot.

The other night C. and I headed down to the waterfront to see Arts on the Waterfront's production of WAITING FOR GODOT, which I last read in 1997 (high school) and had never seen performed. This production benefits Teen Feed, which provides food and other support services for homeless teens, year-round. The stage was set up at the end of the piers that make up the Waterfront Park, if one could call it a stage, a few rows of seats marking a boundary. We sat on the floor, leaning against the railings, our backs to the sun. A couple of battered pallets, a tree that seemed to be sculpted from found objects, a spotlight or two for when night fell. You can make theatre anywhere. Any bit of earth will do. I know this now.

I don't remember what I made of WAITING FOR GODOT the first time I read it. In those days I was in love with Stoppard and was soon about to fall headlong into the embrace of the Russians. I didn't understand Beckett then, and if my incomprehension of HAPPY DAYS last year and the staggeringly brief (15-minutes-long) ROCKABY last month is anything to go by, I *still* don't understand Beckett. It's possible I never will. But in the hands of these young artists - none of the actors or the director seems to be over the age of 24 - it becomes something extraordinarily beautiful. There is almost a tenderness to it, a sense of understanding what it means to love and need another person. I hadn't seen this the first time around.

The play as I remembered it is about middle-aged men waiting for this mysterious Godot, who never arrives. This is different. This is the urban backdrop of the Seattle Wheel and the tourist traffic of the waterfront, the highrise condominiums marching along, with the sounds of cars driving along Highway 99 and the occasional squawking bird as a soundtrack. Against this concrete jungle softened by the hushed blue waters of the Sound and the glow of sunset, the play turns onto its head, the baby-faced actors turning the story into one of troubled runaways searching and waiting for a destiny that may never come. The words wrap around them like a new skin. They understand what it means to be young and uncertain about the future, because they *are* young and uncertain about the future. And yet, by making art at the end of an empty pier at sunset on a summer evening, they are not waiting for Godot, but walking forward into a world wide with possibility.

No comments: