WAITING FOR GODOT IN NEW ORLEANS

Cast: Wendell Pierce, J Kyle Manzay, T. Ryder Smith, Mark McLaughlin, Michael Pepp and Tony Felix

Named one of the ten best national art events of 2007 by The New York Times

In November 2007, Christopher McElroen partnered with renowned visual artist Paul Chan and New York public arts organization Creative Time to reach out into the New Orleans community to stage free site specific performances of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot in the Katrina-devastated neighborhoods of Gentilly and Lower Ninth Ward.

The Times-Picayune, The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Nation, Artforum and NPR all followed the story of Godot in New Orleans, calling the project “incisive,” “inspired,” “remarkable,” “exemplary,” “ever-inventive” and “multifaceted … various in form and meaning, communal, physically ephemeral yet socially and politically continuing.”

Wendell Pierce (HBO’s The Wire), a New Orleans native who played Vladimir in WAITING FOR GODOT, said in an interview with the Times-Picayune on November 10, 2007:

This experience has been the most exciting of my life. This was the best of New Orleans, the humanity of New Orleans, all kinds of people coming together as one: Ninth Ward residents, people who may never have been to the Ninth Ward and everyone in between.  New Orleans was one, unified in spirit. And I haven’t seen or felt that in a long, long time. For me, there were times when it wasn’t a play, when it was so beyond the play… And theater did this! That’s what art is all about. Art is to the individual what thoughts are to the community.

A letter to the local paper from a man whose 80-year old mother survived Katrina represents the incredible impact this project had on the community of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast: 

Friday morning at 7 a.m., my 14-year-old son, wife and mother will start the roughly 560-mile drive from Nashville, Tenn., to...see a corner lot staging of “Waiting for Godot”…I want [my son] to see how a neutral ground stage can become a place of social and political comment and a play can be a call to action. I want my son to see theater that touches lives and does more than just entertain. So, we're driving nine hours, lawn chairs in the trunk, to see art. 

Press Quotes

“Christopher McElroen's staging is the most accessible, the funniest, the most moving and meaningful "Godot" we are ever likely to see... This is stimulating, adventurous, theater of the first order in which we see ourselves in the mirror of a great play.” Times Picayune

“An unforgettable night of theater.” ArtForum

“The performances are capturing the zeitgeist of a city waiting impatiently for Katrina's aftershocks to subside. So many people showed up for Friday's opening night performance, even those who'd never heard of Beckett before, that hundreds were turned away because seating was limited to 500. Some arrived with babies in their arms, others still in their blue work coveralls, others from the wealthiest parts of town.”  Associated Press

“A mirror to those New Orleans natives who may or may not have given up on Godot by now, as they wait for the return of their faith.”  The New Yorker

Links to articles about WAITING FOR GODOT in New Orleans

National Public Radio, December 3, 2007

Still Waiting on Repairs, New Orleans Hosts "Godot'"

Click here for the article

Times Picayune, November 2, 2007

For New Orleanians "Godot" Hits the Spot

Click here for the article

The New Yorker, November 26, 2007

We Wait

Click here for the article

The New York Times December 2, 2007

A Broken City. A Tree. Evening.

Click here for the article

The New York Times, December 23, 2007

The Year in Culture

Click here for the article

The Nation, December 31, 2007

Waiting for Godot in a Wasteland

Click here for the article

CreativeTime Website

Complete production information and photos.

http://www.creativetime.org/programs/archive/2007/chan/welcome.html

Statement from Artist Paul Chan

http://www.creativetime.org/programs/archive/2007/chan/artist_statement.pdf

Associated Press

Citizens recount their experience.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation /2007-11-03-1146251653_x.htm

Mother Jones

Focus on public art.

http: //www.motherjones.com/media/2007/11/waiting-godot-and-much-more-new-orleans

Thirteen

Production overview.

http://www.t hirteen.org/sundayarts/waiting-for-godot-in-new-orleans/97

The Times Picayune

Preproduction.

http://creativetime.org/programs/archive/2007/chan/press/picayune_sep15.pdf

Grassroots initiative.

http://blog.nola.com/living/2007/11/artist_paul_chan_brings_his_go.html

Production review.

http://www.nola.com/living/t-p/index.ssf?/base/living-9/1194330501231410.xml&coll=1

Individual account of experience.

http://blog.nola.com/annmaloney/2007/11/wait_with_me_no_may_be_the_ric.html

Op-Ed about the crowd while they waited, reactions to the show.

http://www.nola.com/living/t-p/index.ssf?/base/living-9/1194330203231410.xml&coll=1

From conception to local interaction.

http://www.nola.com/news/t-p/elie/index.ssf?/base/news-0/1193636118313190.xml&coll=1

Workshop with the Anthony Bean Players

http://www.nola.com/theater/t-p/index.ssf?/base/entertainment-0/1193463486319540.xml&coll=1

Guardian

Focus on New Orleans and actor Wendell Pierce.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/nov/12/usa.media

On the relevance of Beckett’s script- sighting all the significant productions (Sarajevo, San Quentin, Etc)

http://www.guardian.co. uk/culture/2009/mar/08/samuel-beckett-waiting-for-godot

Huffington Post

Uses the production to discuss the state of things in New Orleans

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jed-horne/is-new-orleans-waiting-fo_b_72627.html?show_comment_id=1 0416714

ArtForum

Account of the Lower 9th event, with critical review of CT, CTH and Chan.

http://artforum .com/diary/id=18895

ARTnews

Preproduction.

http ://creativetime.org/programs/archive/2007/chan/press/artnews11_2007.pdf

Modern Painter

Process, community interaction and workshops.

http://creativetime.org/programs/archive/2007/chan/press/Modern-Painters-Godot-11_07_web.pd f

Paper Mag

Anne Pasternak on public art.

http://www.pap ermag.com/?section=article&parid=2896

Gambit Weekly

Critical essay on “Godot”, short review of performance.

http:// creativetime.org/programs/archive/2007/chan/press/Gambit_11_13.pdf

Harvard Gazette

Paul Chan speaks at Harvard.

http:// www.news.harvard.edu/gazette/2008/11.20/11-chan.html 

Bureaux

Pulling quotes from various articles- critiques the impact.

htt p://bureaux.petitemort.org/2008/01/22/feet-on-the-ground-from-baghdad-to-new-orleans/

Found.com

Description of event attended by audience member.

htt p://www.foundla.com/blog/2007/11/06/waiting-for-godot/

The Data Stream

Description of project from press materials.

h ttp://the-data-stream.blogspot.com/2007/10/waiting-for-godot-in-new-orleans.html

Archidose

Writers assessment of the power of the event. (from reading in ArchRecord)

http ://archidose.blogspot.com/2007/11/waiting-for-godot-in-new-orleans.html

Toulouse Street

Writer deeply moved by setting Godot in the setting.

http:// toulousestreet.wordpress.com/2007/11/11/still-waiting-still-dreaming/

Image

Reviewer examines the Christian impact of the interpretation

http://i magejournal.org/page/blog/waiting-for-godot-in-new-orleans