Samuel Beckett Directs His Absurdist Play Waiting for Godot (1985)

Samuel Beckett’s absurdist play, Waiting for Godot, premiered in Paris in 1953, at the Théâtre de Babylone, under the direction of French actor, Roger Blin. Many other directors staged the play in the years to come, each time interpreting it in their own way. All the while, Beckett complained that the play was being subjected to “endless misunderstanding.” However, when an actor, Peter Woodthrope, once asked him to explain what Godot is all about, Beckett answered quixotically: “It’s all symbiosis, Peter; it’s symbiosis.” Thanks for the clarification, Sam.

Beckett never gave a clear explanation. But perhaps he offered up something better. In 1985, Beckett directed three of his plays — Waiting for Godot, Krapp’s Last Tape and Endgame — as part of a production called “Beckett Directs Beckett.” The plays performed by the San Quentin Players toured Europe and Asia with much fanfare, and with Beckett exerting directorial control. Act 1 of Waiting for Godot appears above; Act 2 below. And do keep this in mind. Beckett paces things slowly. So you won’t hear your first sound until the 2:00 mark.

Find the text of Waiting for Godot in our collection of Free eBooks.


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  • Chris

    Why is it “quixotic” to describe Waiting for Godot symbiosis? I looked it up and it is defined as: “interaction between two different organisms living in close physical association, typically to the advantage of both.” That actually sums up the play quite well to me, and doesn’t seem particularly foolish or impractical.

  • Chris

    (Sorry, should read: “…describe Waiting for Godot as symbiotic.)

  • Isaac

    At 1:28 it says “Directed by Walter D Asmus”… Can someone clarify how is this Beckett directing his play?

  • Katherine

    Although it is wonderful to have another version of Godot on the web to view, the description of Beckett’s involvement in this production is not very accurate. It makes it sound as if Beckett had never directed before. He had. He directed many of his plays before 1985, helped many directors with the staging of his work (in letters and in person), and even was Asmus’s assistant director for productions before this one in Berlin.

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