“Alvin Epstein, a classical stage actor and director who appeared in the Broadway premiere of “Waiting for Godot” and went on to become widely known for his mastery of that and other plays by Samuel Beckett, died on Monday in Newton, Mass. He was 93.
Mr. Epstein’s acting career ranged across the Greeks, Shakespeare, Pirandello and the occasional musical, but Beckett was always at its core. He played the slave Lucky, who delivers a 700-word monologue, in the first Broadway staging of “Godot,” Beckett’s groundbreaking existentialist work.
Although Mr. Epstein never met Beckett — he did talk to him by telephone — he came to know that playwright through his words. “Alvin knows the material so well, it gives him the confidence — the courage, really — to do what’s right,” Charlotte Moore, who directed “Endgame” at the Irish Rep, said in an interview with The Times in 2005. “He doesn’t hit anything with a hammer, because he doesn’t have to.”
“As with many works of literature, it is easier to say what Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot is not about, or what it is almost about, than to state its theme definitively or be certain, or even fully uncertain, about its meaning or indeed its origin in Beckett’s imagination. Most ways of describing it require terms that are in conflict with each other. Thus the play is concerned with exhaustion, with language and communication in a state of decay, but it is also nourished by strange energy, by wit, by tension, by moments of pure verbal excitement.”
“This latest Godot is part of the Happy Days: International Beckett Festival, now in its sixth edition, which shares August with the somewhat newer Lughnasa Frielfest, dedicated to another famous Irish playwright and located further up the Brexit frontline, at venues in Derry and Donegal. ” Frank McNally, The Irish Times
Lara Marlowe: “The village of 1,300 will commemorate Beckett’s 1942-1944 stay in Roussillon with its 19th annual Beckett Festival from July 30th until August 1st. The actor Jacques Frantz will read from The Unnamable, the third book in Beckett’s trilogy. The festival will close with a performance by Denis Lavant of Worstword Ho.”
First performed in 1953, Waiting for Godot is Samuel Beckett’s masterpiece and one of the most important dramatic works of the 20th century. The Making of Samuel Beckett’s ‘Waiting for Godot’/’En attendant Godot’ is a comprehensive reference guide to the history of the text.
On a bare road in the middle of nowhere, two world-weary friends await the arrival of the mysterious Godot. While waiting, they speculate, bicker, joke and ponder life’s greater questions. As dusk begins to fall, two figures appear on the horizon.
Regarded as one of the most significant plays of the twentieth century, Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett is a masterpiece that draws endless interpretations. Directed by Garry Hynes, Druid present a new production of this seminal work featuring members of the acclaimed Druid Ensemble: Garrett Lombard, Aaron Monaghan, Rory Nolan and Marty Rea.
“Of all I’ve read in my life, and all that’s yet to come, what’s going to count? How much of it has changed me? How much has even marked me? How much has done both but I don’t know it yet? Readers get to make these discoveries in the privacy of their own heads. Writers must make them in public and then wear them in their back catalogues for as long as they have a readership who cares.”
Marion Rankine (TLS): “In Literary Cynics: Borges, Beckett, Coetzee, Arthur Rose draws on the long history of such challenges to authority. There is, he argues, a literary kind of cynicism that is both theoretically rich and necessarily alienating; it is also inherently paradoxical.”
The British Library: “This edition of Waiting for Godot is annotated by Beckett for the San Quentin Drama Workshop’s 1984 production, which Beckett supervised for ten days. The production was rehearsed at London’s Riverside Studios before opening at the Adelaide Arts Festival in Australia and later touring Europe. Directed by Walter Asmus, it starred Cluchey as Pozzo, Lawrence Held as Estragon, Bud Thorpe as Vladimir, J Pat Miller as Lucky and Louis Beckett Cluchey as A Boy.”
“Sam Shepard‘s final work, Spy of the First Person, has been published this week by Knopf. In an early review for USA Today, Jocelyn McClurg describes it as ‘an autobiographical work of fiction’ with a “fragmentary, disjointed narrative”. McClurg goes on to offer a pithy summary suggesting a debt to the Irish writer, Samuel Beckett, calling Shepard’s novel ‘Waiting for Godot in the desert.'”