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Bethel Theatre Explores Angst and Hope in “Waiting for Godot”

Bethel Theatre Explores Angst and Hope in “Waiting for Godot”

Bethel Theatre presented “Waiting for Godot” last month. The play focuses on two characters, Didi, played by Elijah Sams ’20, and Gogo, played by Joshua Hamel ’18.

Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot was Bethel Theatre’s final production of the season last month. The absurdist play does not provide an explicit time period or setting, and the characters themselves contain a sort of ephemeral quality, according to director and professor Brent Adams. He’s been impressed with the student actors’ efforts, and he says that watching them improve is “one of the real honors of working at Bethel, working at an educational institution, to help students find those ways of growing, and hopefully enriching themselves as artists and human beings.”

The play focuses on two characters, Didi, played by Elijah Sams ’20, and Gogo, played by Joshua Hamel ’18, who wait daily for a man called Godot. The first act takes place around the 1930s and 1940s, as is traditional, but Adams makes the story relative for the contemporary audience by setting the second act in the present.

Political science major Hamel was excited to “to experiment with a new style of play and gain more acting experience.” Digging into the complexities of his character, Gogo, and exploring new ways of acting for this play has been the most intriguing part of the experience.

Didi and Gogo’s existential conversation lasts for two acts and serves as a point of both connection and separation. In general, Adams believes that while attending a play, “there’s this sort of wonderful thing that happens, where you sit with a bunch of strangers, and suddenly, you’re part of something that feels like you’re very much connected. And you have a similar response, and that resonates. You’re not alone.”

As viewers experience this connection, they’re also exposed to characters who are estranged from God, or in the valley, and for Adams, working with students “is about helping them, and to some degree, ourselves, face those harder questions, face those harder moments of the human condition.” Waiting for Godot has given Adams and the actors the opportunity to directly confront the best and worst of human nature and learn together.

However, Adams doesn’t want to only emphasize the angst of the play. The humor is important to him as well. “That need for the light, the need for something to uplift you, to connect even to distract sometimes from the harder, darker side, that’s part of who we are too,” he says. The hope he tries to highlight in this production is Didi and Gogo’s friendship.

Hamel relates to the hope of friendship as he considers his time at Bethel and his involvement with theater. “Theater has provided a community of friends as well as a place where I can grow as an actor and as a person.”

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