Sure, not everyone is into classic existential theater pieces like Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, but in these uncertain times, are we not all waiting for some mysterious character to break the darkness? Are we not all waiting for Godot, in this case as embodied by any popular news personality and their camera crew?
My husband and I are respected community theater actors here in Portland, Maine. When we saw artists from around the world performing from their balconies, singing opera, shredding guitar solos to empty palazzos, we thought, hey, if we perform this long, dark, depressing avant-garde theater piece during which Estragon and Vladimir wait for the eponymous Godot, who never comes, on our balcony, maybe we’ll get national recognition too!
We’ve been doing Godot for our neighborhood every day at 7 p.m., with 2 p.m. matinees on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. So far, not a single correspondent from a single news crew has contacted us.
We talked to some of our neighbors to find out if our work has been resonating with them. Apparently, they didn’t even realize we were acting; they just thought we were having a loooooonnnnnng conversation.
As Estragon says, ‘people are bloody ignorant apes!’
I admit there is not a lot of action in our version or any version of Godot, but that underscores why we chose this piece! The play captures the endless, paralyzing restriction of quarantine! It’s like Beckett envisioned this moment! Given our teeny five-by-four performance space, the most visually intriguing moment happens when I climb on top of our wrought-iron table to do Lucky’s show-stopping ‘quaquaquaqua’ speech. When I’m really on, passers-by wonder if I’m about to jump from the balcony. Sometimes they call the police. It’s exhilarating. I’ve been tempted to swan-dive into immortality.
These are Tony-level performances we’re giving, and yet not once has a news crew been here to interview us. You’d think Anderson Cooper would be interested in experiencing the avant-garde en plain air.
Just like Estragon says, “Nothing happens. Nobody comes, nobody goes. It’s awful.”
We realize that those other artists we saw on the news were performing not for their personal fame but to bolster the spirits of their fellow countrymen during the pandemic. We feel some shame for craving publicity – but who wouldn’t want to sit down for a special conversation with Gayle King?
Since Godot isn’t working out, we’ve got big plans for our next move!
Diane Sawyer will eat up our version of Beckett’s Happy Days.
Hoda Kotb is going to go nuts for our production of A. R Gurney’s Love Letters.
Ted Koppel will love my husband’s re-imagining of Spalding Gray’s monologue Swimming to Cambodia.
Mark my words: our minimalist, talky, action-free, intellectual three-hour theater performances will attract the attention of, Bill Geist, Lester Holt and/or Al Roker!
Artists adapt. Artists improvise. Artists persevere.
If we have to perform Love, Loss and What I Wore naked to get Rachel Maddow’s attention, we will.
If we need to stage a family-friendly Burn This for Mo Rocca, then by golly that’s what we’ll do.
We’ll push the envelope with A Life In The Theater at midnight, Hedda Gabler in Norwegian, a half-hour version of Six Characters In Search Of An Author. How could Charles Gibson ignore us then?
No way can Savannah Guthrie, Nora O’Donnell, Tom Brokaw and Wolf Blitzer all resist The Caretaker as performed on a 5 by 4 balcony!
If we can get Jane Pauley’s attention, the CBS Sunday Morning ‘Moment in Nature’ segment could consist of my husband and me, on our balcony, staring at each other, in the throes of a theatrical pause dense with meaning!
Whatever we do, we must act with haste. With restrictions easing, our window is closing. Stores are re-opening. Kids are returning to school. Scientists are making progress on a vaccine. What if we achieve herd immunity? What if this virus just goes away?? What if the lockdown ends before we have a chance to be featured on a major news network???
That’s why we’re breaking out the big guns. We’re putting on Krapp’s Last Tape and we’re gonna perform this agonizing one-act play over and over and over until George Stephanopolous acknowledges us in a tidy three-minute profile!
We’ll keep going until Charles Osgood, Bernard Shaw and Dan Rather come out of retirement!
We’ll soldier on until Mike Wallace, Jim Lehrer and Charles Kuralt come back from the dead!
It’s gonna be epic!
It’s gonna be tedious!
It’s gonna be impossible to understand!
Who ya gonna profile now, any news crew anywhere? Quaquaquaqua fame, quaquaquaqua immortality, quaquaquaqua pantheon! That’s right, we’re gonna make quaquaquaqua the new hashtag!