Waiting for Godot in San Quentin

A fascinating version of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot, produced by an all-inmate cast in San Quentin maximum-security prison. There are three additional works in The Beckett Project series produced by Global Village: What Where (1988/10 minutes), a video version of Beckett’s last play overseen by the playwright himself, Peephole Art: Beckett for Television (1992/38 minutes) featuring definitive versions of Beckett’s recent works written or adapted for television, and Waiting for Beckett (1994/86 minutes), a unique television documentary on the life and work of the Nobel Prize-winning writer Samuel Beckett, which includes a rare scene with the playwright critiquing a video performance of one of his plays.

01:26Copy video clip URL “The following tape documents the staging of Samuel Beckett’s play, WAITING FOR GODOT by an all-inmate cast in San Quentin maximum security prison”

01:36Copy video clip URL Documentary begins with images of the prison and of the performance of Godot by the incarcerated actors

02:40Copy video clip URL Title card

02:26Copy video clip URL “Twin” James, serving 27 years to life, and “Happy” Wilson, serving 25 years to life, reflect on the relevance of Beckett’s play to their own lives.

03:22Copy video clip URL Rehearsal with director Jan Jonson

05:04Copy video clip URL Jonson discusses his desire to break from the routines of acting and James and Wilson rehearse

05:57Copy video clip URL James and Wilson discuss how “acting” and “faking it” is part of everyday life in prison and Jonson works with the actors on specifics of their performance of a scene from Godot

08:30Copy video clip URL Jonson discusses how their performances have been revelatory for them, and the centrality of silence to both the play and to their lives in prison

09:36Copy video clip URL Wilson discusses how prison drives some incarcerated persons to suicide and performs a scene in which his character discusses hanging himself

10:54Copy video clip URL James and Wilson talk about their friendship and their performance choices, intercut with scenes from Godot

14:10Copy video clip URL Rehearsal is delayed because the prison has been locked down

16:20Copy video clip URL James and Wilson discuss how important waiting is to life in prison, and the ways that incarcerated persons deal with that reality

17:36Copy video clip URL The final scene of Godot performed for an audience, followed by the cast speaking to the audience, which includes Wilson’s mother Ella, actor Bill Irwin, actor F. Murray Abraham

22:05Copy video clip URL Ella Wilson reflects on her son’s performance and on the relevance of the play for him until a prison guard clears the room

23:54Copy video clip URL James delivers a monologue from Godot

25:30Copy video clip URL Credits

 

 

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