In mid September 2008, at the age of sixtyfive, I undertook the part of Lucky in Scott Hyland's production of “Waiting for Godot” on Salt Spring Island, BC.
Scott was a stern taskmaster – he insisted that I get the whole “speech”, all 700 plus words of it, exactly as written!
I sometimes balked thinking “Most, if not all, of the audience will not notice a phrase missing or out of place, a word substituted here and there.”
Scott was right, I was wrong.
Four months later in spite of – I was never a good “obeyer” , because of his insistence I got it.
Both ways: I had memorized the whole thing and I realized that Scott was right – I did need to get it all and in correct sequence for it to “rock”, “roll”, “swing”, whatever!
I had never acted a part of more than one line before (viz. “Are there nails in it?” (Fisherman in my Toronto production of Synge's “Riders to the Sea” 1971;
“Ho, ho, ho” Santa in the Salt Spring Pantomime 2001(?))
How did I do it?
Lots of repetition; reformatting it– again and again (how useful to have found the text on the Internet and having a word processor and printer) ;
reading it over again and again – no point in trying to make sense of it, at this stage; getting the rhythm of it;
listening to different performances of it – often as I drooped / dropped off to sleep at night;
also listening to it in the car;
speaking, reading, reciting it with Scott and others – at his home, on stage and elsewhere;
peforming it to a video camera and checking the playback;
muttering it to myself and my animals as I went about my “other” chores.
The “final, final” version is shown below.
The text gives it as ONE sentence!
I broke it up into five parts initially putting commas, periods, semi-colons where I felt they belonged. (Oh, the audacity of the ignorant!).
I concentrated on parts that were “easier” (e.g. I avoided the “sports” section – sometimes believing that I would never get them right!).
Again Scott ( a veteran of fifty years in theatre!) came to the rescue – persecution I thought of it at the time.
“If you always start from the start then you'll know the beginning well but the rest will remain as ....”;
“Try emphasising different phrases each time”; etc., etc. (“Why / how did I get myself into this????”)
Just before the first performance I split parts of it yet again to accentuate the”difference” of some (almost) identical phrases.
Judi Horwath, who very patiently “auditioned” and corrected me many times offered many helpful hints -
“You've just given a list of names so “namely” begins the next repetition of ....”, etc., etc.
My favourite hook:
The phrase “alas alas in the year of their Lord six hundred and something” kept evading me until I figured that the preceding words “abode of stones in the great cold “
could make sense if one accepted that there was no central heating in the year “six hundred and something” so of course the house was cold!!
(Watch out!! if you undertake to do “Lucky” your mind may become quite distorted also!)
On February 6th (my son's 45th birthday) we performed to a great audience at ArtSpring and I got it right (except for the bit ....).
It felt GREAT!!
Thank you Scott and Bob and Patrick, Judi and Derek.
Harry Warner as Lucky - Photo: Derrick Lundy
Punctuated – feb 6th 2009th
Given the existence, as uttered forth in the public works of Puncher and Wattmann,
of a personal God quaquaquaqua,
with white beard quaquaquaqua,
outside time, without extension,
who, from the heights of divine apathia, divine athambia, divine aphasia,
loves us dearly with some exceptions, for reasons unknown but time will tell,
and suffers like the divine Miranda
with those who, for reasons unknown but time will tell,
are plunged in torment, plunged in fire,
whose fire flames, if that continues and who can doubt it,
will fire the firmament - that is to say blast hell to heaven so blue still and calm
so calm with a calm, which even though intermittent is better than nothing, but not so fast.
and considering what is more, that as a result of the labors left unfinished,
crowned by the Acacacacademy of Anthropopopometry,
of Essy-in-Possy, of Testew and Cunard,
it is established beyond all doubt - all other doubt than that which clings to the labors of men -
that as a result of the labors unfinished of Testew and Cunard,
it is established as hereinafter - but not so fast for reasons unknown -
that as a result of the public works of Puncher and Wattmann,
it is established beyond all doubt that
in view of the labors of Fartov and Belcher left unfinished for reasons unknown;
of Testew and Cunard left unfinished
it is established what many deny:
that man in Possy of Testew and Cunard, that man in Essy, that man in short, that man in brief
in spite of the strides of alimentation and defecation
wastes and pines, wastes and pines.
and concurrently, simultaneously what is more for reasons unknown
in spite of the strides of physical culture,
the practice of sports such as tennis football
running cycling swimming flying
floating riding gliding conating camogie skating
tennis of all kinds dying flying,
sports of all sorts autumn summer winter winter,
tennis of all kinds hockey of all sorts
penicillin and succedanea;
in a word I resume
flying gliding golf over nine and eighteen holes tennis of all sorts;
in a word for reasons unknown in Feckham Peckham Fulham Clapham,
namely concurrently, simultaneously what is more for reasons unknown but time will tell
I resume - Fulham Clapham, in a word the dead loss per head since the death of Bishop Berkeley
being to the tune of one inch four ounce per head, approximately, by and large, more or less,
to the nearest decimal good measure, round figures;
stark naked in the stockinged feet in Connemara.
in a word for reasons unknown no matter what matter the facts are there;
and considering what is more, much more grave
that in the light of the labors lost of Steinweg and Peterman,
it appears what is more, much more grave
that in the light, the light the light of the labors lost of Steinweg and Peterman
that in the plains, in the mountains, by the seas, by the rivers, running water, running fire,
the air is the same and then the earth, namely the air and then the earth,
in the great cold, the great dark, the air and the earth, abode of stones in the great cold
alas alas in the year of their Lord six hundred and something,
the air, the earth, the sea, the earth abode of stones in the great deeps the great cold
on sea on land and in the air
I resume - for reasons unknown in spite of the tennis the facts are there but time will tell.
I resume – alas, alas, on on, in short, in fine, on on, abode of stones who can doubt it.
I resume - but not so fast.
I resume - the skull fading fading fading.
And concurrently, simultaneously, what is more for reasons unknown in spite of the tennis,
On on, the beard, the flames, the tears, the stones, so blue, so calm, alas alas,
On on, the skull the skull the skull the skull in Connemara in spite of the tennis,
The labors abandoned, left unfinished, graver still, abode of stones.
In a word I resume - alas alas, abandoned, unfinished, the skull the skull in Connemara
In spite of the tennis, the skull, alas the stones Cunard . . .
Tennis . . . the stones . . .so calm . . .Cunard . . . unfinished . . .