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Oct. 18th, 2013Lecture 6: Waiting for Godot (Samuel Beckett)Beckett’s inspiration for Godot was a painting by Casper David Friedrich, called Man and Woman Contemplating the Moon,(1833).Comparison of play and painting-Both are dark in a certain way, as Godot is a tragicomedy, and therefore contained elements of angst.-Both contained two figures. Godot also mentions a tree in the setting that Didi and Gogo are in, but that is the only identification we have of setting. The characters couldbe anywhere; the tree Beckett refers to could be any tree. Although we don’t know theexact location of the scene in the painting, it has more substance than the setting in Waiting for Godot.-The painting contains elements of a romantic tone or setting, whereas Godot has nothing of the kind. The canvas is rich and filled, as opposed to the emptiness within the play.Professor Mount story-telling timeStory 1 – In 1967, a group of Cubans loaded a movie projector onto a pick-up truck, and wentaround the countryside showing Cuban peasants their first movie: Modern Timesby Charlie Chaplin. Although the peasants had never seen moving pictures, or cities, or rush hour, or factory production lines, they immediately understood and were engaged with the movie. Why was there no cultural gap? Why did they relate to the movie so easily?
Oct. 18th, 2013Story 2 – In 1957, a small group of young actors stood behind a curtain at a dining hall, in a maximum security penitentiary in California, about to perform Waiting for Godot to 1,400 of the toughest prisoners. They were nervous of course, being about to show this intellectual, avant-garde, French play where nothing happens to a crowd of offenders. The same play had outraged, confused and angered sophisticated audiences in proper theatres to rioting. However, when the play started, all of the 1,400 prisoners were riveted in their seats – they immediately understood the play in a way that the sophisticated, upper class audiences had not. Why did they relate to this play so easily, when others could not?Perhaps the reason that both parties could relate to the movie and the play respectively was that they saw themselves in the characters. Poverty was entirely relatable to the Cuban peasants. The concept of waiting, of painful stasis, was probably no new concept to these convicts. That is one explanation, but only a small part of the whole story. The thing that really drew these audiences to these works was the complete lack of pretencein both movie and play.Lack of pretence-Godot and Modern Times were down to earth, and completely lacked pretence in a way that Lighthouse and Prufrock and Wasteland could not.-Something that laughter and tears had in common – they dissolved pretences and revealed the real “you”, exposed if only for a moment, where all the masks were off.