Waiting for Godot was written in French in 1949. In the first scene, two men, Vladimir and Estragon, wait on a lonely country road for an appointment with Godot. After a while Pozzo enters, leading Lucky on a rope. They talk. Godot fails to arrive. The second scene is a mirror image of the first. The Irish critic Vivian Mercier called Waiting for Godot a play in which ‘nothing happens, twice’.
Running time: 2 hours
The Beckett on Film project includes all 19 plays of Samuel Beckett, considered the most significant Irish playwright of the 20th century. Many of these outstanding filmed productions have received critical acclaim at prestigious international film festivals around the world including New York, Toronto and Venice.
New Yorker Michael Lindsay-Hogg‘s film credits as director include Let it Be, Two of Us, Alone, Frankie Starlight, Running Mates, The Object of Beauty and The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, amongst many others.
‘In Waiting for Godot Beckett creates an amazing blend of comedy, high wit and an almost unbearable poignancy in a funny yet heartbreaking image of man’s fate. With the camera, you can pick those moments and emphasise them, making Beckett’s rare and extraordinary words all the more intimate.’
Barry McGovern (Vladimir) is a former member of the RTÉ Players and the Abbey Theatre Company. With a wide experience in theatre, film, radio and television, Barry has also written music for many shows, co-written two musicals and directed plays and operas for a number of companies. Recent stage work includes The Shadow of a Gunman; Noises Off; The Pirates of Penzance; Twelfth Night, Dancing at Lughnasa and Endgame. Films include Riders to The Sea, Joe Versus the Volcano, Billy Bathgate, Far and Away, Braveheart, The Disappearance of Finbar, The Informant, Miracle at Midnight and Sparrow’s Trap. He most recently worked with director Atom Egoyan on Felicia’s Journey. Barry had major international success with his award-winning one-man Beckett show I’ll Go On, which the Gate Theatre presented at the 1985 Dublin Theatre Festival.
‘Waiting for Godot is probably the most accessible of Beckett’s plays,’ says Barry. ‘It’s like Mozart – too easy for children, too difficult for adults. I remember my stepson saying: “I know what Godot is about. It’s about these two men waiting for somebody who never arrives.” That’s it! There are ramifications in all sorts of directions, overtones and undertones, but that is basically what it’s about.
‘Some people think of Beckett as a very negative writer. I think he’s a positive writer. The last three words of [his novel] The Unnameable are: “I’ll go on” – “You must go on; I can’t go on; I’ll go on.”‘
Johnny Murphy (Estragon) starred as the sax player in the hit film The Commitments. His appearances at the Gate include productions of Arrah-na-Pogue and The Saints Go Cycling In. For the Gate Theatre’s Beckett Festival at the Lincoln Centre in New York and at The Barbican Centre in London (1991, 1996 and 1999) he appeared in Waiting For Godot, Ohio Impromptu and Catastrophe. Recent theatre credits include productions of As You Like It, Buddelia, I Do Not Like Thee, Dr Fell, Brothers of the Brush, A Picture of Paradise, At Swim Two Birds and The Passion of Jerome. Film credits includeAngela’s Ashes, The War of the Buttons, Into the West, I Went Down and Fools of Fortune.
Stephen Brennan (Lucky) began his acting career in 1971 at the Gate Theatre, Dublin, in The Barretts of Wimpole Street. Since then he has appeared in more than 50 leading and supporting roles in productions including Brian Friel’s Living Quarters, Tom Murphy’s Morning After Optimism, Brian Moore’s Emperor of Ice-cream and Tom Kilroy’s Talbot Box, which transferred to the Royal Court, among numerous others. He has also worked in television and film.
See also: Beckett on Film