Here's a nice little story for you.
At least I think it's a nice little story - but I haven't written it yet so what do I know?
First of all not everybody knows everything about everything – believe it or not they don't.
Some people have never heard of Donald Duck or even Bugs Bunny.
In this multi-cultural society it might seem strange to us that they don't.
In fact when I first went to America people there were amazed that I hadn't heard of Mister Ed.
When I saw the movie The Man With Two Brains with Steve Martin, I didn't get the joke when it turned out that Merv Griffin was the Elevator Killer; I'd never heard of him and neither had anybody in the rest of the world.
So let me explain; that man above, Samuel Beckett is probably, and by all accounts, the greatest playwright of the twentieth Century – that doesn't mean to say it's true, by the way, it's just a fact.
Personally I like Brian Friel and Harold Pinter.
Beckett wrote the classic play Waiting for Godot – which is a play that most people don't understand and because nobody understands it that makes it a great play.
It's also a great play because it was produced all over the world (and many other places) by people who didn't understand it, played by people who didn't understand it and watched by people who didn't understand it at all.
But the greatest thing about the play is, if you read it, read about it, then go and see it - you might understand it because it is a play about hope.
Of course the word Godot does not exist – or did not exist; it is, or was, a 'none word' that came to being when the play was written.
It's very close to the word God so maybe they're waiting for God.
Two of the characters in it have strange names – one is like Estrogen and the other like Vulva; they are, in fact (and I'll have to look up the spelling) Estragon and Vladimir.
Oh well - close.
The Americans say this made up word – Godot - that came out of the head of Becket, differently from the way the British do; the Americans say G'do and the British say Godo with emphasis on the first syllable GOD which is more to the meaning(less) of the play.
Neither pronounce the last 'T' inferring the word is French.
I suppose this was because Becket, an Irishman, lived in Paris.
Ah ha, I hear you say, but he wrote in French.
And indeed he did. And he lived in Paris because he was an acolyte of James Joyce when he lived there and moved there after the war.
So it is a play about hope and very entertaining it is too, with Irishmen making the best of the dialogue over the years as they did with every other Becket play.
The trouble with Becket's plays is that they, like the James Joyce works, have fallen into the wrong hands and sometimes are more trouble than they are worth to put on when you have to deal with awkward estates.
Thankfully, Joyce's estate is now free of this restriction.
Beckett was part of the Theatre of the Absurd movement of the fifties which included playwrights such as Ionesco, Max Fisch, Pinter and many more including some Americans like Edward Albee.
Their philosophy, if they had one, was to show life as meaningless with meaningless things happening but sometimes there was a subtext - as in Becket's plays.
If ever you get the chance to read, for example, The Caretaker by Harold Pinter, and ask a few 'whys' – why doesn't Mick do this, why doesn't Aston do that, it might all turn out because Davies (The Caretaker) doesn't do something else but if he does do that 'something else' Aston and Mick will have to do something they said they could do but can't.
Of course not.
Beckett witnessed political upheaval on a grand scale; he saw the invasion of Hungary in the fifties and Czechoslovakia in the seventies. He wrote about it in his play Catastrophe.
The play is being presented at the Enniskillen Festival. This is the only play Beckett every wrote that he dedicated to anyone and that anyone is this man -
He was a playwright too; a playwright, essayist, poet, philosopher, dissident and statesman and at the time Beckett dedicated the play to him, he was in prison in Czechoslovakia. The play was presented in Avignon in a festival dedicated to Havel. He heard of the festival and was moved
He was in prison because he was a dissident. You get plenty of dissidents over here and in America but they don't go to gaol. Sometimes they may get bumped off but they don't go to gaol.
Václav Havel used the absurdest technique in his plays and the authorities locked him up for doing it.
Simple as that, really.
They saw things in his plays which they thought were leading the populace to a place where they, the authorities, didn't want them to go.
He spent four years in prison at one point but used his plays to criticise communism and was a major influence in the successful Velvet Revolution.
Havel later wrote how moved he was to have a play dedicated to him and how inspired he felt.
He never got to meet Beckett but rose to be the first elected president of the then Czechoslovakia.
On the evening of his inauguration he couldn't sleep so stepped out for a walk around the streets of Prague; when he turned a corner he saw, spray painted on a wall the words, Godot Has Come.
He took it as a sign that all was well and that Beckett endorsed him.
Godot Has Come