By Denys Lionel Page

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The first half-dozen producers approached turned down the plays for various reasons: Eleuth´eria was too cumbersome, costly, and hard to follow; the bizarre Godot had no roles for women and no plot to speak of. Without a story line or characters with whom to identify, neither play was likely to interest enough people to make money. After these discouragements, Deschevaux-Dumesnil proposed that they approach Roger Blin, a respected French actor and director. In 1935 Blin had appeared in Antonin Artaud’s adaptation of Shelley’s The Cenci, a much talked-about avant-garde production.

In this regard, then, the pairings that many people think of when they encounter Vladimir and Estragon are persuasive and valuable. Waiting for Godot is very much a play about relationships, and the men are at different times two halves of a couple: married, single, external, internal, separating, and coming back together; and when, later in the action, Vladimir asserts that ‘at this place, at this moment of time, all mankind is us, whether we like it or not’, he is, despite the humorous pomposity of his formulation, quite right.

Literally, then, space is questioned: this may not be the place where they are to meet Godot. And then time comes in for its relentless cross-examination: Estragon: Vladimir: Estragon: Vladimir: Estragon: Vladimir: And if he doesn’t come? We’ll come back tomorrow. And then the day after tomorrow. Possibly.

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A new chapter in the history of Greek tragedy by Denys Lionel Page


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