Graley Herren
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Deferred dreams
Waiting for freedom and equality in Nwandu and Beckett
in Beckett’s afterlives
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Antoinette Nwandu’s provocative play Pass Over places two philosophically opposed source texts into conversation: the Biblical Exodus story and Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. She situates this encounter in the context of the Black Lives Matter movement since the election of President Donald Trump. On one hand, Nwandu joins a long line of African American artists and activists who invoke the Exodus story as an archetype of hope, deliverance and freedom. On the other hand, she uses Godot as an emblematic counterforce to the Moses myth, where dreams of the elusive Promised Land remain perpetually deferred. Nwandu leverages Beckett to expose the dangers of moral atrophy, emphasising the lethal consequences of white privilege in perpetuating systemic oppression against African Americans. In this chapter, I similarly leverage Nwandu to expose Beckett’s own troubling complicity in his theatrical legacy of discrimination. For decades, first Beckett and later his estate representatives have repeatedly, forcefully and litigiously discouraged, denounced and banned transgressive productions featuring women and people of colour. My final section catalogues several instances of this targeted discrimination and calls for an end to these exclusionary practices.

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Beckett’s afterlives

Adaptation, remediation, appropriation


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