Press Release | Samuel Beckett’s comedic masterpiece Waiting for Godot starts previews

June 13, 2013… Widely considered the greatest play of the 20th century, Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot begins previews on Thursday, June 13, at the Tom Patterson Theatre.

Since it was first staged 60 years ago at the Theatre de Babylone in Paris, theatre artists, critics, scholars and audiences have come to embrace this seminal tragicomedy as a modern masterpiece. A funny, harrowing and deeply human story, the play centres on two tramps, Vladimir and Estragon, who wait by the side of a road for their meeting with the mysterious Godot – a figure who never arrives and is never explained. As they struggle to make sense of their predicament, their hilarious conversations and clownish games help them to pass the time.

Acclaimed director Jennifer Tarver, who won international plaudits for her 2008 production of Krapp’s Last Tape, continues her fascinating exploration of Beckett’s work with this production.

“I am entranced by Samuel Beckett’s writing,” says Ms Tarver. “He has an incredible theatrical sense: he knows the power of live performance and everything it entails in terms of choreography, rhythm of movement, lighting and all the other resources of the medium. It’s almost as if he writes the theatre before he writes the play, telling the story through those three-dimensional elements rather than beginning with text that then has to be translated onto the stage. Some of his plays don’t even have any spoken words. I love that kind of inherently theatrical drama. And then on top of that, the words he does write are heartstoppingly beautiful poetry.”

In a playbill that explores the idea of community and particularly how we as individuals relate to our fellow human beings, to society and its institutions, Waiting for Godot is a natural fit.

“In programming the Tom Patterson Theatre, I selected three plays that examine our relationship to God and the place of God in our communities,” says Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino. “Alongside the imposed morality of Measure for Measure and the political violence motivated by religion in Mary Stuart, we see in Godot a landscape where God is awaited but never arrives and any sense of community is absent. This play will be a great complement to the more political and social examinations of community that we have in this season.

“Jennifer Tarver is a director who has had astounding success with Beckett and this production is no exception. Not only does she have an ear for it, she has the heart for it. Her brilliant direction coupled with an extraordinary company of actors makes this show one of this season’s most anticipated productions.”

The remarkable cast features Brian Dennehy as Pozzo, Stephen Ouimette as Estragon and Tom Rooney as Vladimir, with Randy Hughson as Lucky.

The artistic team features Designer Teresa Pryzbylski, Lighting Designer Kimberly Purtell, Sound Designer Jesse Ash, Movement Coach Shona Morris and Fight Director John Stead.

Waiting for Godot Forum Highlights

The Forum , the new festival within the Festival, is a series of activities and events designed to make a visit to Stratford an immersive, all-encompassing cultural experience. Through debates, talks, concerts, comedy nights, hands-on workshops and more, The Forum will offer theatregoers more ways to discover and examine the themes running through this season’s productions.

Waiting for Godot will be explored through several Forum  events, including: Beckett: Longing and Belonging, in which Professor Sean Kennedy, an expert on Beckett, examines questions of identity, community and isolation in the play; Talking Theatre: “Who would believe thee Isabel?” in which Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino and Education Consultant Pat Quigley lead a discussion on how several of this season’s characters, including Lucky in Waiting for Godot, are rendered voiceless by the structure and exercise of power; and Star Talks, in which Toronto Star theatre critic Richard Ouzounian interviews Brian Dennehy on stage.

Support for the inaugural season of The Forum  is generously provided by Kelly and Michael Meighen and the Province of Ontario, in partnership with the University of Waterloo, with media sponsorship provided by The Walrus. Support for the Speakers Series is generously provided in memory of Dr. Philip Hayman.

Waiting for Godot officially opens on June 27 and runs until September 26. For tickets, contact the box office at 1.800.567.1600 or visit stratfordfestival.ca.

Waiting for Godot is co-sponsored by Sylvanacre Properties Ltd.. Production support is generously provided by Sylvia D. Chrominska.

Support for the 2013 season of the Tom Patterson Theatre is generously provided by Richard Rooney and Laura Dinner.

The Festival’s new Toronto bus service Stratford Direct is now available twice daily on performance days for only $20 return. Reservations can be made through the box office.

The Stratford Festival’s 2013 season runs until October 20, featuring Romeo and JulietFiddler on the RoofThe Three MusketeersThe Merchant of VeniceTommyBlithe SpiritOthelloMeasure for MeasureMary StuartWaiting for Godot and two new Canadian plays, Taking Shakespeare and The Thrill, along with more than 150 Forum events.

Cast (in alphabetical order)

Pozzo………………………………………….         Brian Dennehy
Understudy……………………………………         Keith Dinicol
Lucky………………………………………….         Randy Hughson
Boy, alternating…..……………………………         Ethan Ioannidis
Boy, alternating.………………………………         Noah Jalava
Estragon…………………………………….…         Stephen Ouimette
Understudy……………………………………         Gareth Potter
Vladimir……………………………………….         Tom Rooney

Artistic Credits

Director………………………………………..         Jennifer Tarver
Designer……………………………………….         Teresa Przybylski
Lighting Designer……………………………..         Kimberly Purtell
Sound Designer………………………………..        Jesse Ash
Movement……………………………………..         Shona Morris
Fight Director…………………………….……        John Stead
Producer…………………………………….…         David Auster
Casting Director…………………………….…         Beth Russell
Creative Planning Director……………………         Jason Miller
Assistant Set Designer…………………………         Patrice Strate
Assistant Costume Designer…………………..         Sara Brzozowski
Assistant Lighting Designer…………………..         Sarah Mansikka
Assistant Fight Director……………………….         Geoff Scovell
Fight Captain………………………………….         Stephen Ouimette
Stage Manager…………………………………         Janine Ralph
Assistant Stage Manager………………………         Jessica Stinson
Apprentice Stage Manager……………………         Kelsey Rae
Production Assistant…………………………..         Heather Bellingham
Production Stage Manager…………………….        Janine Ralph
Technical Director……………………………..         Sean Hirtle

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