Friday, February 26, 2010

Waiting For Godot

19th Feb 2010
English Play - Waiting for Godot - Chowdiah Memorial hall

Nasiruddin Shah, Benjamin Gilani, Akash, Randeep Hooda

Brilliant performance by all of them.

The opening scene shows two men dressed in rags in a nondescript land engaged in a most casual kind of exchange (I can’t call it a conversation). The audience gets to know in due course that they are waiting for someone called Godot.
Who this Godot is, what the relationship between them is or what the purpose of waiting is – are not made known to the audience at any point during the play.
The two of them wait day after day and Godot does not arrive.

While waiting thus, there enters a traveler and his slave carrying some baggage. They are portrayed to be most strange in their manners, in the way they interact – the master treating the slave like he would a beast.
The two initially hope that the man is Godot but discover he is not.
They all converse without purpose, sometimes without meaning.

The curious duo ask of the traveler many questions – about himself, about the slave, about why he treats the slave the way he does, etc. – without receiving any satisfactory explanation from the traveler.

The slave is made to dance and ‘think aloud’ by the master at the instance of the duo. I must mention that Randeep Hooda has done a brilliant job of delivering a hundred dialogues, at such speed, almost all of them in the same breath. And I don’t think that the fact that all those lines were meaningless made his job any easier.

As if most incidentally, there are these lines that have a deep and profound meaning and philosophy.

To each his due.
The total amount of tears in this world is a constant. To each one that starts crying, someone in the world stops. And the same goes with laughter too.
Let us not believe that our generation is any worse than the ones that preceded us or any better than them.

Thus they go on for some time and the traveler departs with his slave, leaving the two to themselves.
There enters a small boy announcing that Godot is not to meet them on that day but the next day. This leaves the two guys marooned since they don’t know how long the waiting will be and more importantly what the two of them are to do while waiting for Godot.

They try to kill time with various means – looking at a tree, contemplating hanging themselves from its branches, trying a new pair of shoes, talking, changing hats... They tire of it all but do not give up and start all over again.

While they go on thus, there enter once again, the master and the slave in a different guise, this time the slave leading the blind master, holding the same leash to which he was tied the previous day. There is some more desultory talk between them all.

The small boy makes the same announcement as he did the previous day – that Godot is to arrive the next day.

The play ends as without a conclusion. Just the way it began without a definite introduction.

It is an abstract play, left to or open to interpretation. The following is as deep as I could get.

First of all the uncertainty of life – suggested by the act of indefinite waiting for Godot. Day after day, the two wait, not knowing how long they will have to wait and if their waiting will ever come to an end.
Uncertainty is also suggested by the reversal of roles of the master and slave in a sense; the arrogant master holding the slave by a leash goes blind one day and is led by the slave, who controls the same leash.

Futility and purposelessness – all the waiting does not lead the two anywhere. Their waiting does not fructify in the end. The exchange between the various characters is without a point and without purpose (or so it is as understood/perceived by all of them).
The various things they do – talking, observing the one another, observing the tree, the sky, exchanging hats – also serve no purpose in the end except keeping them engaged while they are there.

And lastly, - and this is something I have written about in my blog twice or more – “That is life. A perpetual neglect of what we already have and an unending pursuit of what we don’t have…”
The two guys while waiting for tomorrow, do not quite know what to do with their present. They do not mind filling their present with frivolity, insignificance as they attach more importance to the coming tomorrow. The beauty of their surroundings, the opportunity presented to them today - that of friendship and association with a fellow being, the philosophies of life coming to the surface occasionally - are all lost on them.

Our eyes are fixed on the bigger questions of life. The smaller ones - small people, small incidents, small talk - that our lives are made up of suffer complete neglect. Our minds are preoccupied with faraway objects and goals. Our immediate surroundings, we take for granted.

If you think you have the patience for abstractness and can appreciate abstract art, you may like this one.
Apparently, a lot has been said and written about this play.
I hope at least to read the play someday.

Having talked about the play, how can I not tell you about the extraordinary incident that took place in the auditorium when the artists were performing?

A lady and her husband barged on to the stage abruptly. I thought they were there to provide some comic relief or announce the interval or some such thing. The lady shouted angrily to all of us “Can you please take out your cars parked in front of our house? For the past half an hour, we have been trying to get our car out.” and coolly walked away. The artists were visibly taken aback. Nasirudddin got up and said “we are not used to performing like this. The rest of the show is cancelled”. For 5 minutes, the auditorium buzzed with people walking in and out, and murmuring.

And then Benjamin Gilani addressing everyone said the show would go on. The artists were badly shaken and they would take some time to regain composure but the show would go on.

After the play ended, Nasiruddin made all of us applaud the lady for her pluck and said she wanted to become an actress for sure! :)

It was truly an evening of Double Tamasha!


Saro said...

CRAP. sounds like a missed a good one, Beckett is awesome. He inspired my favorite genre of theater, theater of the absurd. Any idea where we can go register or something like that to get news of events like this?

Sowmya said...

Welcome to this space Saro.

You can subscribe to daily mails from EventsBangalore or Explocity.

Rangashankara theatre has a website that shows their events calender.