Seattle Shakespeare Company Tackles Existentialism

Sep 4, 2014

Seattle Shakespeare Company Artistic Director George Mount in 'Waiting for Godot' rehearsal.
Seattle Shakespeare Company Artistic Director George Mount in 'Waiting for Godot' rehearsal.
Credit Courtesy Seattle Shakespeare Company

Seattle Shakespeare Company has built a strong reputation for its productions of William Shakespeare's canon: comedy, tragedy, straight ahead historical drama. But this month the theater company ventures 400 years past the Elizabethan days of yore, into the mid-20th century.

The company opens its fall season with a new production of the existential classic "Waiting for Godot."

What does Samuel Beckett's play have to do with William Shakespeare?

"Arguably, 'Waiting for Godot' is the most important piece of theater of the 20th century," says Seattle Shakespeare Company Artistic Director George Mount.

Mount believes a theater company dedicated to producing stage classics doesn't have to be bound by time or even authors. "I was drawn to 'Waiting for Godot' at a Shakespeare theater because, at its heart, it's as big in scope and thought as any Shakespeare play."

"Waiting for Godot" is about two rag-tag guys who wait at a crossroads for Godot to arrive. That never happens, so during the course of the play, the audience is treated to the men's musings on their lives and the world around them.

George Mount was at a personal crossroads several years ago, trying to figure out where to take his theater career. A friend asked him what play he'd direct if he could choose any script. Mount didn't hesitate to choose "Godot."

Mount's staff and board at the theater company supported his decision to produce the play.

But Mount decided to reach beyond the confines of Seattle Shakespeare Company. He contacted friends and colleagues in the city to ask them if they'd join him in putting together a Beckett Festival.

"I called up my friends and said, 'Hey, do you want to do some shows?' And they did!" he marvels.

The Beckett Festival kicked off Labor Day weekend with Sandbox Radio Theater's performance of Beckett one-acts and continues throughout Seattle this autumn. Seattle Shakespeare Company's production of "Waiting for Godot" opens at ACT Theatre September 5.