By Tom Daldry 

I asked a friend of mine if he’d come and see our production of Waiting for Godot. “I’ve seen it once. Never again,” he said. I asked the friend’s father too and got another refusal. My mother agreed to come – reluctantly. “I’ve seen it once,” she said, “put on an Oscar Wilde, or something people will actually come to.” But she’s coming. Because she’s my mother. She even booked for my sisters too. Big shout out.

Why the ‘It’s boring!’ reaction? Waiting for Godot is one of the most daring, visionary plays that has ever been, and ever will be, written. People tend to love it or hate it, always have, always will. We at Theatre Nation love it. I’m even getting a quote from the play – “like leaves” – tattooed upon my body. Life affirming, tasteful, regrettable.

Ben Keaton

Theatre Nation intends this production to be a development  from our previous projects. We asked sculptor Leigh Dyer to be our set designer, and we were delighted when he said “yes”. Leigh has created many magnificent public artworks in Hastings (and beyond) – including the Norman boat prow on Hastings beach.

Leigh told us that he wanted to be involved because he’d seen versions of Godot (although not live). He was aware of the tree as an iconic set element in modern theatre and thought it would be an exciting project to collaborate on. 

He’ll bring his brilliance to the boughs. His design is influenced by the Giant’s Causeway in County Antrim. It’s set to be absolutely stunning, with the base referencing the famous hexagonal basalt shapes. We’re really looking forward to packing it into our Ford Transit and assembling/dismantling it at 14 venues across the South of England.

Alongside Leigh, we’ve put together a remarkable acting ensemble, including Ben Keaton – who has won the Perrier Comedy Award, been nominated for an Olivier and featured as Father Austin Purcell in Father Ted. Waiting for Godot marks his return to the stage after a decade. 

Ben will act alongside our very own Artistic Director, Patrick Kealey. Patrick will play Estragon, to Ben’s Vladimir, in one of the most astounding comic double acts in theatre history.

Beckett himself loved silent film clowns (Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin in particular), and our production will animate the piece with expressive movement. It will be choreographed with the Butoh magic of Movement Director, Yumino Seki – who worked to great effect on our 2018 touring version of Hamlet.

It’s really meaningful to be bringing a play we love so much to our hometown, and it’s especially exciting to be working both with their youth group, and with local schools, to ignite their imaginations. The wait goes on – until 25th March, when we open at the White Rock Theatre. Then we go on tour, including Trinity Arts (Tunbridge Wells) and the Royal Hippodrome (Eastbourne) in April. 

Booking details available on www.theatrenation.org


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