Theoretical and Theatrical Intersections: Samuel Beckett, Herbert Blau, Civil Rights, and the Politics of Godot

  • S. E. Gontarski
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Modern European Literature book series (PMEL)


Herbert Blau’s life-long engagement with Modernism, performance, and performance theory constituted a process through which Beckett was a constant touchstone. Their parallel critiques of performance and representation would challenge the limits of Modernist thought and its creative production. Their intersection began with Blau’s 1957 staging of Waiting for Godot at the Actor’s Workshop of San Francisco, but its subsequent performance in California’s San Quentin Prison made the play a cult classic and caught the attention of the Free Southern Theater whose politicized staging toured the American South amid the violence of the Civil Rights movement. Both Beckett and Blau, finally, would explore ways of moving beyond the limits of the stage and the conventions of theatre to create performances central to Modernist thought, Blau towards the performance of thought on the page, Beckett with a series of theatrical reconceptions that undervalued story and theme to offer a theatre at the limits of thought, a theatre of affective lyricism.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. E. Gontarski
    • 1
  1. 1.Florida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA

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