Today is the birthday of Samuel Beckett (1906-1989), probably the twentieth century’s greatest and most influential playwright, also much admired for his essays, fiction and poetry, both in English and French. He merits attention here on a few scores in connection with my two books. Burlesque and vaudeville comedian Bert Lahr starred in the first American production of Waiting for Godot (1956), and Buster Keaton starred in his 1965 film Film. The two characters in Godot seem influenced by Laurel and Hardy, and all bowler hat wearing clowns in general.
Beckett also influenced my earlier playwrighting efforts, some more than others. In particular there are these two plays published on Indie Theatre Now: Ezekiel’s Wheelchair and The Dorothy Building, although there are some others, which were produced years ago but have not yet been published.
The Trinity Rep production of Godot in 1979 with Richard Jenkins and George Martin was one of my first theatrical experiences. Hard to top that! I’ve read most of his plays, a couple of his novels and some of his poetry by now. His minimalism is sort of a landmark, a signpost on the very last outskirts of town — the town being language. Beyond, lies only desert, or if you prefer, silence. But, then, Beckett had done silence, too. In fact, he’s doing it now. He’s performing his masterpiece RIGHT NOW.
To find out about the history of vaudeville, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.
And please check out my new book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc