S. E. Gontarski
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Godot noir
Beckett in black and whiteface
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Although he was savvy enough to warn his French publisher of ‘this adaptation business’ as requests for English language rights for En attendant Godot began to arrive in Paris in mid-1953, Beckett seems to have had only the scantest idea of how completely commercial theatre was imbricated in it. But Beckett would plunge into the ‘business’ himself by 1962, as he reconfigured Robert Pinget’s radio play La Manivelle as The Old Tune, with the acknowledgement: ‘English adaptation by Samuel Beckett’ (1962). We might say the same of his directorial debut, re-rendering Pinget’s L’Hypothèse, which he directed with actor Pierre Chabert in 1962. As a theatre director, Beckett would freely ‘adapt’ his own works for the stage and vary productions for different actors and stage configurations. This chapter traces adaptations of Waiting for Godot along racial lines with three American productions featuring all or dominantly black actors: what was generally called the ‘Negro Godot’ (1957), the touring Godot produced by the Free Southern Theater as part of the American Civil Rights Movement (1964–65), and the post-Hurricane Katrina production by the Classical Theater of Harlem in 2006, which was re-staged on the still-devastated streets of New Orleans in 2007.

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Beckett’s afterlives

Adaptation, remediation, appropriation


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