The Cooper Center for Creative Arts usually puts on a play twice a year — in spring and autumn — but fortunately for anyone finding it difficult to wait, the center is adding a third play to 2017, opening today and showing again Saturday.
“Waiting for Godot” will be the center’s first summer play.
It will also be the longest and most challenging play yet, said Jonathan Hunt-Sell, the play’s director.
“We wanted to fill this time with something,” he said. “And because the fall and spring shows are larger casts, we thought we were doing something smaller. It’s a shorter rehearsal time as well.”
A five-member cast will perform “Waiting for Godot,” a tragicomedy in which two men are asked to wait for a man named Godot. The audience is not told who Godot is, why he is coming or why the two men agreed to wait.
“They don’t know who this guy is, they don’t know why they’re supposed to wait, but they’ve been told to do it,” Hunt-Sell said. “ … For some reason or another, they are obeying the request to wait.”
The play’s vague plot is in keeping with its genre: theatre of the absurd. This genre abandons traditional, linear storytelling methods and character archetypes to explore existential ideas.
“Everything else has a beginning, middle and end plot that you’ve seen either on TVs or movies or any other play or musical,” Hunt-Sell said. “Theatre of the absurd does not have a plot. There is no beginning, middle and end. The play starts and then it finishes and you are left to figure out what happened in between.”
“Waiting for Godot” is an existentialist play, he said, although its author Samuel Beckett was not an existentialist.
“Beckett was coming out of World War II,” Hunt-Sell said. “He lived in Nazi-occupied France. He saw a lot of destruction and a lot of death and a lot of bad things. And when he was in France, he studied existentialism.”
Existentialism is a philosophy that explores the human condition, which argues that “existence precedes essence” — or in other words, the meaning of life is defined by the individual. Though the play will challenge its actors, Hunt-Sell said it was a welcome challenge and one he hoped to take on someday.
“Through my graduate work, studying to be a director, I studied that play and it went on my list,” he said. “I think, as a director, you start to make a list of your favorite plays, the plays that you want to direct someday, and that went on my list.”
The cast features Annie Brock, Karl Knopf, Eric Petersen, Collin Pierce and Keagan Sell.
“Waiting for Godot” starts at 7:30 p.m. today and Saturday at the Cooper Center for Creative Arts, 1174 N. Fourth St. Tickets are $5. Beer and wine will be available for purchase. Call 742-3996 for more information.