Friday, 8 June 2007

Beckett oddments

In some circles, YouTube has a bit of a reputation as a video dustbin, but I think this is unmerited as long as you're selective. I just ran into this video for kd lang's Constant Craving, which contains a beautifully-filmed recreation of the first Paris performance of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot. Seaching YouTube for Samuel Beckett finds many more directly related Beckett-related clips, such as the classic Lucky speech (a tour de force in free-association).
      Godot has been inspiration for a great many parodies. See, for instance, Godot Action Comics (from the excellent Book of Sequels written by National Lampoon alumni; or Francis Heaney's Holy Tango of Literature (a very clever collection of pastiches based on anagrams of the author's name; its concluding "Bake me Cutlets" takes Godot into a cookery show).
      Beckett probably wouldn't have liked these. According to Colin Wilson's litcrit book The Strength to Dream, Beckett wasn't pleased (despite the subtitle "a tragicomedy") that Godot came across as so comical, an aspect that is so easily parodied. His work is, by the way, renowned for the strictness with which Beckett's estate enforces his stage directions posthumously (under current law, this situation will persists until 2029). According to this DVD Review, the origin of the kd lang video was that its director, Mark Romanek, wanted to film Godot but was refused permission. (A great loss, if it had the intensity and style of the video). In a 2003 article, Damned to fame: the moral rights of the Beckett estate, Dr Matthew Rimmer told how productions of Godot have been contested (and in many cases stopped) for reasons including unauthorised music, female actors and a mixed-race cast. "It is a sad fate", Dr Rimmer writes, "that Samuel Beckett, the most innovative of playwrights, should have his work preserved in aspic". These issues are explored in detail - some text NSFW - at Gregory Aharonian's Waiting for Opradot.
      For material and links about Beckett himself, see The Samuel Beckett On-Line Resources and Links Pages site.

- Ray

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