Gay News Network
November 5, 2013
Hugo Weaving is teaming up with Richard Roxburgh and STC’s Artistic Director Andrew Upton to tackle Samuel Beckett’s absurdist masterpiece Waiting for Godot, writes Garrett Bithell.
It’s fair to say the first seven days of rehearsals for Sydney Theatre Company’s upcoming production of Waiting for Godot were ‘Beckettian’. The cast – comprising Hugo Weaving, Richard Roxburgh, Luke Mullins and Philip Quast – engaged in an unexpected waiting game. They were waiting for a man who would never turn up. They were waiting for seminal Hungarian director Tamás Ascher.
Days before rehearsals were due to commence, word came from Budapest that Ascher’s arrival in Sydney would be delayed due to an injury. STC’s Artistic Director Andrew Upton stepped into the breach as caretaker director, working alongside the show’s Associate Director Anna Lengyel, one of Ascher’s close collaborators.
But then, Ascher’s doctors advised that he remains unable to make the long trip to Sydney. As a result Upton is now directing the production.
As Weaving says, it’s a start Samuel Beckett would have been delighted with. “It was quite absurd,” he tells SX. “First Tamás was delayed; then he was delayed again; and then he wasn’t coming at all!”
After working with Ascher on STC’s 2010 production of Uncle Vanya – also alongside Roxburgh – Weaving admits to approaching their second outing together with liberal dose of dread. “We had a really fascinating time with him on Vanya,” he says. But it was very difficult – very, very, very difficult – for all sorts of reasons. He’s a singular man, he’s brilliant, there’s an enormous amount of respect for him for what he does – but he’s very hard on you.”
Nevertheless, the genesis of this production of Godot can in fact be traced back to the rehearsal period for Uncle Vanya. It seems in many ways it was meant to be.
“Tamás was laughing at Richard and I doing a scene of Vanya, and he stopped rehearsals and said ‘You two should play Vladimir and Estragon one day!’ And then that same day Andrew [Upton] said to me, ‘I have this great idea – we should get Tamás to direct you and Roxy in Waiting for Godot… What do you think?’ And I said, ‘Have you been talking to him?’ And apparently he hadn’t…”
Waiting for Godot is the most famous of Beckett’s absurdist, enigmatic creations, which also include Happy Days, Krapp’s Last Tape and Endgame. The play is centred on Vladimir (Weaving) and Estragon (Roxburgh), who wait near a tree, full of hope, for a man named Godot. Though exactly what they hope this encounter might bring remains unclear. Joking, bickering and musing on the profound, their shared test of endurance is interrupted by the overbearing Pozzo (Quast) and the hapless Lucky (Mullins). The work is a striking, poetic portrait of humanity’s talent for resilience.
“Beckett taps into this constant question we all have of ‘Why am I doing anything?’” Weaving muses. “Why am I doing this? What’s the point of this? How much of what you do is just actually taking up time – a pastime, literally a pastime. And how much of it is essential to your life? I’m often caught in those questions!”
[Image] Richard Roxburgh and Hugo Weaving in Waiting for Godot.
Waiting for Godot, Sydney Theatre, November 12 – December 21. Bookings:www.sydneytheatre.com.au