I don’t know who Godot is. I don’t even know (above all don’t know) if he exists. And I don’t know if they believe in him or not—those two who are waiting for him. The other two who pass by towards the end of each of the two acts, that must be to break up the monotony. All I knew I showed. It’s not much, but it’s enough for me, by a wide margin. I’ll even say that I would have been satisfied with less.—Samuel Beckett, 1952
En attendant Godot, a new play by Samuel Beckett, received its first official performance on this date in 1953 at the Théâtre de Babylone in Paris. The play had received a staged reading on French radio in 1952, for which Beckett supplied an introduction; part of the note is quoted above.
Beckett had promised he would attend the radio performance, but he did not. (He was Godot that night.) The text of the play was published at the end of 1952, then on January 4, 1953, a single preview was staged for reviewers before opening night. Most were positive.
The production was only planned for to run for thirty days, which it did. It was produced on a tight budget, with the cast members wearing their own beat-up clothes. Beckett translated the play into English (Waiting for Godot), which has several differences from the French original, and that text was performed for the first time in 1955.
When Alan Schneider, the director of the first American production of the play, asked Beckett, “Who or what does Godot mean?” Beckett replied, “If I knew, I would have said so in the play.”
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Bonnie Parker met Clyde Barrow on this date in 1930. She was 19; he was 20. Their murderous career began two years later.
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President Calvin Coolidge died on this date in 1933. Amelia Earhart was declared dead on this date in 1939, a year and a half after she had disappeared. Tina Modotti died 75 years ago today. Pete Maravich died on this date in 1988. Lincoln Kirstein died 20 years ago today. Representative Sonny Bono died on this date in 1998. Momofuku Ando, who invented instant noodles and founded Nissin Food Products (you may be enjoying a cup of his invention, made by his company, right now), died ten years ago today at the age of 96. Pierre Boulez died one year ago today.
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Jack Norworth was born on this date in 1879. Even though he had not ever attended a baseball game, his lyrics to the 1908 song, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” made it baseball’s unofficial official song almost immediately.
Jane Wyman was born 100 yeas ago today. Alvin Ailey was born on this date in 1931. The late Umberto Eco was born on this date in 1932. (He died on February 19, 2016.) Michael O’Donoghue was born on this date in 1940.
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Vice President Walter Mondale is 89 today. Robert Duvall is 86 today. Alfred Brendel is 86 today. His most recent article in the New York Review of Books discussed several exhibitions of works from the Dada movement and was published in October. It is almost unfair: Brendel is a great writer and a piano hero. Here he performs Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto:
Juan Carlos I of Spain is 79. Charlie Rose is 75 today. Diane Keaton is 71 today. “Seems Like Old Times”:
Ted Lange is 69. Chris Stein is 67 today. Suzy Amis Cameron is 55. Marilyn Manson is 48. Bradley Cooper is 42.
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