Samuel BeckettWaiting for Godot
(En attendant Godot)
Directed by Vito TauferPremiere 10. July 2003, Sečoveljske soline
Second premiere 16. October 2003, SNG Nova Gorica
The masterpiece at its most perfect and entertaining.
This performance doesn't have any called terms at the moment.
A 20th century classic, Waiting for Godot by the Nobel prize winner Samuel Beckett (1906 - 1989) elicited an avalanche of contrasting interpretations immediately after the world premiere in Paris in 1953. The author himself preferred to avoid interpreting his work; when asked in an interview who and what Godot was, he replied: "Had I known, I would have said so in the play."
It is quite possible that the deepest understanding of the play came not from the critics and interpreters, but from the inmates serving life at San Quentin, the American prison, who saw it in 1957 - it can't have been too difficult for them to understand Vladimir and Estragon, their entertaining powerlessness to leave or stop waiting, filling the void with funny ritual games, incessantly fading memories, one thousand and one way to pass the time. Their hope - for what else do they have - that Godot will come, that they will be free, that they will find salvation.
One of the best Slovene directors, Vito Taufer, staged Waiting for Godot in the Mediterranean milieu of the magical Sečovlje salterns. A co-production of SNG Nova Gorica and the Primorski poletni festival (Summer Festival of the Littoral), the performance - which boasts with an excellent cast - merged the acting of the burlesque couple with fun and made many a household name in the large audience cry with laughter. Alojz Petrovčič, Nova, 14. 7. 2003
Taufer's reading of the famous play may seem in many ways extraordinary, first of all because of its transposition into the Karst-Triestine dialect, but also because of the strong comical streak. The well-matched cast of this meticulously designed performance paid great attention to physical and voice creation of their characters.
It needs to be stressed that dialectal rendering is truly natural and convincing.
Taufer's staging stressed such comic moments - a digression from the usual, rather gloomy interpretations, fashioned after the theatre of the absurd. Transposition into the dialect does not weaken the message of the text, even though it accentuates further the marginality of Vladimir and Estragon. The costumes, also by Vito Taufer, are designed to remind the audience of the nineteen-fifties poor peasant and working classes, although Vladimir pulls his cellular phone out of his pocket during the performance. As for the visual effects, the scenery, a rather unattractive unused plot beside the sea, chosen for this occasion is quite perfect although, to be honest, the audience may not feel that it compensates for the uncomfortable provisional seats and a complicated searching of the venue. Nevertheless, this is an outstanding performance, which deeply touches the spectators.
(bov), Primorski dnevnik, 12. 7. 2003
In their laid back, and because of the use of the dialect even more entertaining and open manner, the main characters, Vladimir and Estragon try to oust the void by filling the time by playing funny ritual games, with faded memories and mutual teasing.
The inspiratory quality and multiple layers are a good starting point for the performance, which keeps one's attention all the way through and does not, despite the waiting, leave one unfulfilled.
Aleksandra Gruden, RA Slovenija 1, 11. 7. 2003
Director Vito Taufer creates theatre in "Taufer way". This year's Waiting for Godot, the third and most eagerly awaited performance of the Summer festival of The Littoral, was no exception to this rule. Taufer staged it in the salterns ("in the swamp, on the margin of civilisation and the edge of the world"). Aleš Berger's translation of Godot was transposed into Karst-Triestine dialect by the actor Danijel Malalan and the excellent actors from SNG Nova Gorica did the rest of the work. Taufer made us rave again, salting in his very own way the work of his favourite playwright, Samuel Beckett. Worthy of praise!
Patricija Maličev, Jana, 15. 7. 2003
The critics who only write reviews full of praise are usually looked down upon by their fellow reviewers, for what kind of a critic might one possibly be if he or she is not able to find any faults or flaws at all. This may well be true. However, sometimes the work one has to review is so good that any negative review would be a mere pretence or lie. Such is Taufer's original and fresh staging of Beckett's Waiting for Godot, which, produced by SNG Nova Gorica and Summer Festival of the Littoral, came to life on the edge of the Sečovlje salterns last Thursday.
Director Vito Taufer, his assistant and dramaturge Tea Rogelj and Primož Vitez, a contributor to dramaturgy, conceptuated the play, or rather a dialogue, first performed over five decades ago, as a sort of a sequel to his (Taufer's) staging of Goldoni's The Squabbles at Chioggia, which he had staged two years ago, in a manner similar to Godot, using the Triestine dialect and placing it into a typical Mediterranean milieu. Just as The Squabbles were unforgettably characterised by the narrow streets of Piran, Godot is tied to the vast salterns.
Taufer's previous, refined stagings of Ionesco's The Bald Soprano and Beckett's Endgame proved his special affinity for theatre of the absurd and his latest excursion into it did not let the audience down. The only people who will not like this staging of Godot are those who prefer this kind of plays to be less experimental and more "chamber" in feel.
To chose the often tested comedians from Nova Gorica was a big part of the director's success. Iztok Mlakar as Vladimir and Radoš Bolčina as Estragon are a synchronised and entertaining tandem, a sort of Laurel and Hardy from Primorska. Mlakar, slouching but rigid in posture, plays the sharper Vladimir, a kind of a village gabbler, and successfully exchanges lines with Bolčina, who as the less "intellectual", but more blustering, stammering and screeching Estragon continues the line of roles he created as Tomas Curlo in The Squabbles - a role, in which Bolčina, who does not lack acting "stamina", excels.
Primož Pirnat and Ivo Barišič as the passersby Pozzo and Lucky fulfilled their tasks no less skilfully. The former, as the smug, self-satisfied and presumptuous Pozzo, dominated the scene with his imposant figure. However, Pirnat created Pozzo's many different moods, from the zealous rapture while reciting to the fatigue and blues, in and extremely refined manner. Barišič as Lucky was a taciturn and very meek Pozzo's clown, maybe even a little too reserved. Godot is undisputably the peak of this year's summer festival.
Andraž Gombač, Primorske novice, 15. 7. 2003.
In his latest open-air performance at the northern edge of the Sečovlje salterns, the director Vito Taufer creatively returns to the exciting, encompassing and puzzling avant-garde playwriting of Samuel Beckett, whose Endgame he so unforgettably staged in the season 1998/99 in SNG Nova Gorica. In that performance he effectively showed how naturally the philosophical words of Beckett's characters stem from their physical existence, and tangible activities and pain on stage, but also as a continuation of human development and civilisation, which pushed them to the existence on the verge of extinction.
The performance of Waiting for Godot (En attendant Godot, 1953), in the translation of Aleš Berger and partial adaptation into the Karst-Triestine dialect by Danijel Malalan ("the locals", Vladimir and Estragon use the dialect, while "the foreigners", the travellers Pozzo and Lucky speak the standard language), on the stage, in costumes and under direction by Vito Taufer (his assistant and dramaturge was Tea Rogelj), was undoubtedly a step towards a natural connection and intertwining of "physics" and "metaphysiscs", the current transiency and the evermore, the primordial and candid comedy, but also towards cynical, tragic perception of life and world, affected with catastrophes of civilisation. He (and some of the actors) were able to draw benefit from the recent fruitful experience with the production of Goldoni's The Squabbles, in which the aim of the director and the cast was to create the impression of a "warm, craving morsel of life". This time, two at the same time good-natured and grumpy old men - Vladimir and Estragon - with their primordial Mediterranean joviality, stemming from the local tradition and temper mark one side of the action in the performance, two contentious friends, more and more helpless in their waiting for Godot, confronted with the other side, the cosmopolitan contemporary belligerence, the forever blinder, haughtier and noisier vapidness and animalistic, dehumanised sacrifice, represented by the foreigners, Pozzo and Lucky. The boy, bringing the news of Godot's (non-)arrival at the end of both acts, is this time only a voice Vladimir hears in his cellular telephone.
Set on a dusty gravel road leading through high tufts of grass along the salterns, by Beckett's regulation withered (and in the second part modestly green) forked tree, in the summer moonlight (and additional lighting by Samo Oblokar), lit with the garish lights of the amusement parks in the background and with ironic and grotesque musical themes, Beckett's verbal masterpiece was brilliantly brought to life by a congruous quartet of actors, in perfect rhythm and pace. Iztok Mlakar has created a memorable Vladimir - stiff legs, stooping with age (and history) but a forever tenacious ideologist. Radoš Bolčina is Estragon, with crooked limbs and the manner of walking (as if he were burdened by the ancestors from some earlier evolutional stage) and one failed action after another. Their partnership cast light on all the nuances of the friendship between the ageing men and also their hostilities towards each other, and showed just how deep in the human nature the absurd is rooted.
Primož Pirnat is a loud, aggressive Pozzo (covered with body hair and generally unkempt, thus expressing his laziness and despising for his surroundings), a caricature of a modern, smug appropriator of the consumer civilisation, who wants to seize everything and is quite capable to degrade his fellow man to the level of a draught animal. Ivo Barišič, with his noble reserve, creates a suffering and dehumanised creature, Pozzo's servant Lucky who, with grotesque perturbation shines like Christ under the empty sky of the modern world in the moment of the last sliver of the human dance and reason. Slavko Pezdir, Delo, 12th July 2003
- Primorski poletni festival, , Sečoveljske soline, Slovenia, 2003
- International Festival Mejni fest, , Nova Gorica, Slovenia, 2004
- 3. Slovenski festival komornega gledališča SKUP, Ptuj, Slovenia, 2004
- 3. festival Kluže, Bovec, Slovenia, 2004
- Primorski poletni festival, Sečoveljske soline, Slovenia, 2004
- International Festival Ohridsko poletje, Ohrid, Makedonia, 2004
- International Festival Heraklejski večeri, Bitola, Makedonia, 2004
- International Festival 50. Splitsko poletje, , Croatia, 2004
- Festival of Slovenian Theatre 39. Borštnikovo srečanje , Maribor, Slovenia, 2004
- Göteborgs Stadstheater, Sweden, 2005
- Primorski poletni festival, Koper, Slovenia, 2005
- Narodno pozorište Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2005
- Atelje 212, Beograd, Serbia, 2005