Waiting for Godot
Waiting for Godot
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"Fresh and intelligent"The Times
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"Crisp, clear, assured"The Telegraph
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About the Production
'To-morrow, when I wake, or think I do, what shall I say of to-day?'
Two homeless men, Vladimir and Estragon, wait on a bare road with a single tree.
Over two days they argue, get bored, clown around, repeat themselves, contemplate death and wait.
They are waiting for the one who never comes. They are waiting for Godot.
Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot is one of the most significant English language plays of the 20th Century.
The play gently and intelligently speaks about what it is to be human. Its brilliance lies in it subtly; it is endlessly elusive and yet universal.
Ian Brown directs an all Black cast in this new production of Beckett's funny and poetic masterpiece.
Designer: Paul Wills
Lighting Designer: Chris Davey
Artistic Director and Joint Chief Executive of West Yorkshire Playhouse since 2002, Ian has directed Secret Garden, As You Like It, When We Are Married, Privates on Parade, Fast Labour, Macbeth, How Many Miles to Basra?, Foxes, Alice in Wonderland, Twelfth Night, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Electricity, The Wind in the Willows, A Small Family Business, Pretending to be Me, Hamlet, The Lady in the Van, Hijra, Eden End, Stepping Out, Broken Glass, The Comedy of Errors, Proposals, You'll Have Had Your Hole and Of Mice and Men. Ian was also Associate Artistic Director of the Playhouse for two years from 2000 to 2002.
From 1988 to 1999 Ian was Artistic Director and Chief Executive of the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh where he was awarded a Scotsman Fringe First and a Herald Angel Award for his work. Productions included: Reader, The Collection, Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love, Poor Super Man; Ines de Castro, Light in the Village, Moscow Stations; Hanging the President, The Bench, Hardie and Baird, Shining Souls.
Ian was also Artistic Director of TAG Theatre Company, Citizen's Theatre for five years, where productions included: Piaf, Othello, A Midsummer Night's Dream, As You Like It, Romeo and Juliet, Hard Times, Can't Pay? Won't Pay! and Great Expectations.
Ian trained as a teacher and before becoming a Community Arts worker at the Cockpit Theatre in London and running the Cockpit Youth Theatre. In 1982 he got his first professional job in theatre at the Theatre Royal Stratford East where he became Associate Director.
Chris has designed extensively for the National Theatre, RSC, Shared Experience Theatre, Royal Court, Hampstead Theatre, Lyric Hammersmith, The Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Royal Lyceum Edinburgh and Birmingham Rep.
Recent designs include: As You Like It (The Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester); Shoes (Sadler's Wells); Carlos Acosta Premieres (London Coliseum); King Lear (West Yorkshire Playhouse); The Madness of an Extraordinary Thing (Manchester International Festival); Matthew Bourne's Lord of the Flies (Theatre Royal Glasgow); She Loves Me (Chichester).
Opera includes: The Queen of Spades (Opera North); Romeo et Juliette (Opera Ireland); Hippolyte et Aricie (Nationale Reisopera Netherlands); L'Arbore di Diana (Valencia); I Capuleti E I Montecchi (Opera North/Melbourne/Sydney Opera House); Skellig (The Sage, Gateshead); Aida (Houston); Bird of Night (Royal Opera House); Bluebeard (Bregenz); Jephtha (English National Opera/Welsh National Opera/Copenhagen); The Magic Flute (Welsh National Opera); eight seasons for Grange Park Opera; The Rake's Progress; The Turn of the Screw (Aldeburgh Festival); The Picture of Dorian Gray (Monte Carlo).
Chris was awarded the TMA Best Lighting Design for Dial M for Murder (West Yorkshire Playhouse) and Beyond the Horizon (Royal & Derngate, Northampton).
Guy Burgess (Lucky)
Cornell S John (Pozzo)
Jeffery Kissoon (Vladimir)
Patrick Robinson (Estragon)
Fisayo Akinade recently graduated from The Central School of Speech and Drama, and is making his professional stage debut at The West Yorkshire Playhouse. Previous credits include Sold directed by Complicite Associate Catherine Alexander at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe (winner of the Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award 2011), and workshops of Kwame Kwei Armah's new play We're At That Age Aren't We? at the National Theatre Studio. Theatre whilst training includes Sarat in The Edge directed by Douglas Rintoul at the New Diorama Theatre and Laureano and Serenin in Divine Words, directed by John Wright.
Guy Burgess trained at LAMDA. His theatre work Includes: Olivier award-winning Cat On A Hot Tin Roof (West End transfer from Broadway), Doctor Faustus & The School for Scandal (Greenwich Theatre); Coriolanus (RSC); Twelfth Night (West Yorkshire Playhouse); The Tempest, As You Like It (Actors From The London Stage); Titus Andronicus (Riverside Studios); Poison (Tricycle Theatre); A Fool And His Money (Nottingham Playhouse); Ariadne Auf Naxos (Festival Theatre Edinburgh); Antony And Cleopatra, Othello (Bridewell Theatre); Henry V (Orange Tree Theatre); Hamlet, Romeo And Juliet, The Taming Of The Shrew (Regent's Park Open Air Theatre); Josephine (Battersea Arts Centre); Hiawatha (Crucible, Sheffield); The Merchant Of Venice, Volpone (English Shakespeare Company); A Midsummer Night's Dream (Derby Playhouse); The Revenger's Tragedy, Godspell, Hair (Theatre Clwyd); Abigails Party, Peter Pan, Mystery Of Edwin Drood (York Theatre Royal); Gypsy (Library Theatre Manchester); and Amadeus, A Taste Of Honey (Bolton Octagon theatre). Television Includes: Holby City, Doctors, Eastenders (BBC) and Pushkin and the Bronze Horseman (Ch 4). Film Includes: Looking for Langston (BFI/Sankofa).
Cornell S John
Cornell S John has worked extensively in theatre, television and film.
His theatre credits include: The Meeting (Pleasance Theatre and Tour) Porgy & Bess (Savoy Theatre), Les Miserables (Queens Theatre), Pacific Overtures (Donmar Warehouse), The Full Monty (Prince of Wales Theatre), You Don't Kiss (Stratford Circus), Messiah (Riverside Studios & European tour), The Lion King (Lyceum), South Pacific (The Crucible, Sheffield) and Romeo & Juliet (Belgrade Theatre, Coventry).
His television credits include: Top Boy, Inside Men, Five Days 2, Casualty, Doctors, Eastenders, Holby City, The Block, Lenny Henry In Pieces; Maisie Raine; Revolver; The Knock and Thieftaker.
Films include: Jack & The Giant Killer, to be released later this year, Dreams of A Life, premiered at The London Film Festival, Anuvahood, Adulthood, The Chronicles of Narnia, Kidulthood and Nightwork.
Jeffery Kissoon has worked extensively in theatre, television and film.
Theatre credits include: The Archbishop and the Antichrist (Soho Theatre), Antony and Cleopatra (Liverpool Everyman), The Meeting (Croydon Warehouse) Amazonia (Young Vic), War and Peace (Tour & Hampstead), An African Cargo (Nitro), Orestes (Tour & Tricycle), Tamburlaine the Great (Bristol Old Vic & Barbican), Henry IV, Parts 1 & 2 (National Theatre), Fix Up (National Theatre), A Midsummer Night's Dream (Chichester), Resurrection (Lichfield Garrick), Nathan the Wise (Chichester Theatre), Hamlet (World Tour), The Free State (Tour), Life is a Dream (Edinburgh, London), Caucasian Chalk Circle (Royal National Theatre), Oedipus The King (Royal National Theatre), The Tempest (Birmingham Rep), The Dove (Croydon Warehouse), A Midsummer Night's Dream (Royal National Theatre), As You Like It, Barbarians, Cheapside,City Sugar, Dr Faustus, Glorious Things, Great and Small (RSC) and In The Solitude of Cotton Fields (Almeida).
Television credits include: Spooks (BBC), Doctors (BBC), Casualty (BBC), Kiss of Death (BBC), Holby City (BBC), Miss Marple (ITV) Grease Monkeys (BBC), Doctors (BBC), EastEnders (BBC) and Dalziel and Pascoe (BBC).
Radio credits include: Tamburlaine: The Shadow of God (BBC), Rudy's Rare Records (Series I and II) (BBC), Atonement (BBC Radio 4) and The Ministry of Performing Arts (BBC Sound).
Patrick Robinson has worked extensively in theatre, television, film and radio.
Theatre credits include: For the RSC - King Lear (& Almeida), King John, Richard III, Henry VI-Part 1, Much Ado About Nothing, Twelfth Night (Tour), All God's Children Got Wings, The Great White Hope, They Shoot Horses Don't They?, Class Enemy (Youth Festival) Macbeth, Winter's Tale, The Rover, Romeo and Juliet. Other credits include: Warhorse (New London Theatre), Rough Crossing (Headlong Theatre), Gem Of The Ocean (Tricycle Theatre), Macbeth (Out Of Joint), Festen (Almeida and Lyric Theatre), Guantanamo Bay (Tricycle), Peace Maker (Other Place), The Merchant of Venice (Chichester Festival Theatre), Mappa Mundi (National Theatre), Dangerous Corner (Garrick Theatre and West Yorkshire Playhouse), Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (National Tour), The Country Wife (National Tour). Macbeth (Howarth Festival), Wuthering Heights (Chester Gateway) and Hiawatha (Crucible, Sheffield).
Television credits include: The Bill, Tracy Beaker, Shane, Shadow Play, Headless, A Many Splintered Thing, Pig Heart Boy, Who Dares Wins, Daylight Robbery, The Man, Harpur & Ile, Julius Caesar, Casualty, Dodgem, Troublemakers, Total Eclipse, Dream Ticket, Back To The Wild, Windrush, Gala Concert, Two Halves-Many Colours, Blacker Than Black.
Film credits include: Belly Of The Beast, The Bee Stung Wasp, Monument (As Director) Driven, Four Days To Zero.
Radio credits include: Final Sacrament, Double Dribble, Losing Paradise, The Castle of Otranto, Cymbeline, One Bright Child, No Man, The Jury, In The News.
Notes by Pat Cumper
The first time I saw Godot was one Autumn mid-afternoon seventeen years ago. I had switched on my tiny television to watch the news while making my umpteenth cup of tea, trying to ignore the writing deadline that hung over me. I was riveted. It was so clever, so funny, sad and uplifting by turns. And there was no easy way to describe it. It was just Waiting for Godot, the play where nothing happens twice.
Born and raised in the Caribbean, I recognised the rhythm of the language because the English I grew up with came to the islands with the Irish hoopers, Scottish bookkeepers and Welsh blacksmiths over hundreds of years. There were references to casual violence, time spent competitively debating the meaning of stories from the bible, the image of a man with a rope around his neck, that triggered a welter of personal and historical connotations. I watched a warm and fractious friendship between two old man, how power is negotiated between master and servant, fear of the unknown, silly jokes and exuberant word play.
All these years on and now I am lucky enough to be producing Godot. Sitting in the auditions and listening to actors draw on their lives and backgrounds to inform their reading, the text with all its humour and pathos bounces off the page. The temptation can be to try and impose a world on the play in order to make your production stand out. If it's to have a Black cast, why not place it in West Africa or the Caribbean? Why not a baobab tree and red earth? The answer has to be because Waiting for Godot creates its own world. The text and the events of the play have their own inner logic. There is no need to impose a concept as Beckett was quite clear This is the play, this is all the play is, and the directors and actors have to trust it. I am tremendously excited by what will happen when the richness of the actors' experience meets the text in the rehearsal room. It will be a Godot that looks and sounds like no other. Fine British actors whose roots reflect the complexity of Empire's legacy bringing one of the 20th century's best plays to the stage. I can't wait.
Pat Cumper, Artistic Director, Talawa Theatre Company
"The quality of Talawa's excellent production of Beckett's Waiting for Godot lies in its fantastic cast."
Spoonfed Read the full review ›
"...great acting, comic timing and an intimate theatre space ... all of which this production has."
Londonist Read the full review ›
"There is nothing fussy or over-laden in Talawa's production, every element brims with intelligence and integrity."
Exeunt Magazine Read the full review ›
Listen to BBC Radio 3's review...
Night Waves Listen to the full review ›
"fresh and illuminating"
The Stage Read the full review ›
"this is a production full of moments of wit and thought-provoking beauty"
British Theatre Guide Read the full review ›
"The acting was flawless on all fronts"
The Public Reviews Read the full review ›
"By the time Kissoon is talking of the forceps and the grave, the audience is as still as the stage action - and the final appearance of the Boy (Fisayo Akinade) produces a frisson I have not previously encountered."
Whatsonstage.com Read the full review ›
"Burgess is magnificent in the role"
The Telegraph Read the full review ›
Mon, 30 January 2012 - the UK's first Waiting For Godot with a black cast
BBC Radio 4 Front Row Daily Listen to the full interview ›
Waiting for the first Black British Godot
Talawa Theatre Company's artistic director explains why Beckett's masterpiece is ripe for reinterpretation
The Guardian Read the full interview ›
The World Today Weekend 08/01/2012
(45 minutes in) Listen to the interview ›
The waiting game: Beckett with an all-black cast
What can an all-black production add to Waiting for Godot?
The Guardian Read the full interview ›
Jeffery Kissoon and Patrick Robinson
"...the intensity of that dialogue is what makes (Waiting for Godot) so outstanding and, potentially, a real challenge for any actor."
Yorkshire Evening Post Read the full interview ›
Jeffery Kissoon On ... Waiting for Godot
"Now we're doing it black the play really resonates. Any people who do it bring themselves to it - that's the nature of Beckett's play. Somehow the play speaks to things that are buried in the black experience. The play is about outsiders and the black person has always been the outsider once he was taken from his original context. He is the outsider wherever he is, even in his Caribbean homeland. Rastas in Jamaica are always looking for themselves, saying let's go back to Africa. We have no connection to our origins because it's been disrupted. Like the tree in Waiting for Godot we are starved of our roots."
Whatsonstage.com Read the full interview ›
"Talawa has an impressive legacy - making theatre that people of any colour would queue round the block to see."
"Ian Brown has pulled off something remarkable."
The Observer (writing about King Lear directed by Ian Brown at the West Yorkshire Playhouse)
Students from Goldsmiths College, University of London catch up with Patricia Cumper in Talawa's office to find out more about Waiting for Godot, Talawa's co-production with the West Yorkshire Playhouse of Samuel Beckett's masterful tragicomedy.
What was your inspiration for producing Waiting for Godot? 0.05
Why now? How relevant do you think it is to today's world? 1.38
In relation to the recent London riots, how do you thin young people in and outside of London will relate to the show? 2.52
What do you think makes Godot special? 04.17
Do you think It's accessible to all audiences? 05.19
How important are the after-show talks and participatory activities to Talawa and your audiences? 06.26
Are you bored of being asked, 'Why a Black cast?' 07.46
3 - 25 February 2012
West Yorkshire Playhouse
6 - 10 March 2012
13 - 17 March 2012
The Old Rep
27 - 31 March 2012
Winchester Theatre Royal
3 - 7 April 2012