What an emotional roller-coaster of a week this has been! It’s been one of those weeks when the rug gets pulled out from under you… and then suddenly, the rug gets reinstated. Rug is back in place. Phew! Nevertheless it leaves me wobbled, unable to find balance just yet…but I’m working on it. Relief can sometimes be as powerfully unsettling as the initial blow.
Because of my unsteady state, I would like to concentrate on writing about something other than my current circumstances; namely, an extraordinary art-experience I had earlier in the week. I had the privilege to be able to witness Samuel Beckett’s play “Waiting For Godot” on Broadway. The cast was no joke: Ian McKellen as Estragon, Patrick Stewart as Vladimir, Billy Crudup as Lucky and Shuler Hensley as Pozzo.
I had no idea what the play was about before I went to see it, and in this case I was glad of it. The play was easy to follow, and the acting in some cases was so flawless, that it felt as if the actors became their characters in the realest sense. It felt almost like voyeurism! Ian McKellen especially was so authentic in his role as a tramp, that when he took off his shoes, I was expecting the stink to waft all the way to the mezzanine…
The play has been interpreted in many different ways over the years, but the best pieces of art are multi-faceted that way. They are absorbed by each viewer through their individual experiences and the lenses through which they are looking at the world at any given time. Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia on the subject:
Beckett tired quickly of “the endless misunderstanding”. As far back as 1955, he remarked, “Why people have to complicate a thing so simple I can’t make out.” He was not forthcoming with anything more than cryptic clues, however: “Peter Woodthorpe [who played Estragon] remembered asking him one day in a taxi what the play was really about: ‘It’s all symbiosis, Peter; it’s symbiosis,’ answered Beckett.”
I get it. “Symbiosis.” That’s the way I saw it too. Although I’m not sure I interpreted it quite in the way that Beckett had intended. What I saw was codependency, and how it can keep people stuck in place for years and years and years…The comfort of familiarity, even if life is close to unbearable and even pointless. The “right” symbiosis will keep our hands tied and our feet lodged in place without us even realizing that the years keep passing and the seasons keep changing, and nothing happens… We’re just waiting for things to magically become different; we are “waiting for Godot”… never realizing that we ourselves are responsible for any change that we hope to happen.
It is hard to put into a few short paragraphs the impact that this play had on me. It will stay with me for the rest of my life. While the premise is something I’ve thought about much for the last few years, I know that if I go and see this play when I’m 45 instead of 35, I will find much nuance in it that I could not see now. Again, this is how great art works: the play doesn’t change, but I do, and consequently I view it differently from before.
I too have written about “symbiosis” on my next album, and I see the connection between the play and one song of mine in particular. It is gratifying validation to find that other great artists have been compelled to address, what seems to me, the same issues. I feel more and more connected to reality, and grateful in knowing that I am no longer waiting for Godot myself.
“We are all born mad. Some remain so.”
― Samuel Beckett