Finding-Aid for the Rick Cluchey Collection of Waiting for Godot Materials (VMF237)


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Biographical Note

From the collection of American actor and noted Samuel Beckett performer Rick Cluchey, who had been serving a life sentence for kidnapping and robbery at California's San Quentin prison when he saw a visiting production of Waiting for Godot in 1957. Inspired by the performance, Cluchey and several other inmates soon formed a dramatic troupe called the San Quentin Drama Workshop, and Waiting for Godot was the first play staged by the company. It became known for its dedication to Beckett's play, in particular the cycle of Waiting for Godot, Endgame, and Krapp's Last Tape, and after Cluchey's parole in 1966, a reformed SQDW continued performing Beckett throughout the United States and Europe.

Beckett had been aware of the play's unusual connection with prisoners since 1954, after he received a letter from an inmate about a 1953 production of Waiting for Godot at the Lüttringhausen Prison in Germany. Intensely moved by the man's reaction, Beckett became singularly attentive to performances of his plays by prisoners. He became involved with the SQDW following Cluchey's December 1974 invitation to the author to attend a Workshop performance of Endgame in Paris, and Beckett would go on to personally direct Cluchey in Krapp's Last Tape in Berlin in 1977, and in Endgame in London in 1980 (along with Cluchey's wife, Teresita Garcia Suro). Outside the theatre, a warm, personal relationship developed between Beckett and the Clucheys, with the playwright providing financial and moral support to them over a period of many years, and Cluchey and Garcia Suro naming their son after him. From Glenn Horowitz Bookseller description


Scope and Contents Note

Item 1: Waiting for Godot. New York: Grove Press, 1954

8vo.; pictorial black-and-white wrappers; heavily used.

First edition, sixteenth printing. Annotated by Cluchey on first free endpaper: 1st Prompt-book/Berlin/1975. A presentation copy, inscribed on title page: With love for Rick/from Sam/Sept. 1988. Cluchey also wrote below Beckett's inscription: Rick Cluchey/Samuel Beckett/San Quentin Drama Workshop Godot Production./1963 – 1983/Stage Book. Heavily annotated and underlined throughout by Cluchey.

This prompt book was used for the landmark 1975 Berlin production of Waiting for Godot at the Schiller-Theater that Beckett himself directed – for the first time – and which starred two of the original cast members from the earlier 1965 presentation, though in reverse roles: Horst Bollmann played Estragon, and Stefan Wigger was Vladimir. Beckett had long believed the play to be confusing and clumsily visualized, though, and he used the opportunity his directorial debut provided to clarify both the text and stage directions. Copiously marked up with colored underlining and autograph notations, the book reveals in vivid detail the extensive revisions Beckett made to his original work, which included dialogue changes, the excision of entire scenes, new directorial emphases, and alterations to the staging. Cluchey witnessed these modifications first hand, as he had been invited to observe the rehearsals by Beckett, and his faithful notations graphically demonstrate the intimate theatrical tutelage he has begun to receive from the author. Among the adjustments are:

spread 19: Estragon's original response to Pozzo's question, "What are would you say he was?" has been changed from "Eleven" to "Ageless."

spread 22: Vladimir's first line at the top of the right page, "Will night never come?" has been crossed out and used instead to replace his line directed at Estragon on the left page: "Try and walk."

spread 27: The section beginning with Estragon's line, "Tell us about the time he refused" and ending with Pozzo's line "True" on the opposite page had been entirely cut.

spread 30: The sentence "Perhaps I dropped it" has been added to Pozzo's lines on the right page.

spread 51: Three lines beginning with Pozzo's "Help!" and ending with Estragon's "We help him?" have been cut on the left page.

spread 54 and 55: The section beginning with Estragon's line on the right page of spread 54, "He wants to know if we are friends!" and ending with Vladimir's line "You were saying your sight used to be good, if I heard you right" at the bottom of the left page of spread 55 has been entirely cut, as well as a small section at the bottom of the opposite page, and some additional lines at top.

Fluent in German, Beckett translated this revised version of Waiting for Godot for the ultimate performance.

Transferred to Rare Books. PR6003.E255 E513 1954

Item 2: Waiting for Godot. New York: Grove Press, 1954

8vo.; annotated and underlined throughout; pictorial black-and-white wrappers; heavily used; spine reinforced with silver gaffer's tape.

First edition, fifty-second printing. Annotated by Cluchey on first free endpaper: 2nd Prompt-Book/London/1984. A presentation copy, inscribed on title page: for Rick/with love/from Sam/London/1.3.84. Heavily annotated and underlines throughout by Cluchey.

In early 1984, Cluchey's San Quentin Theater Workshop was invited to perform Waiting for Godot at the Adelaide Festival in Australia, but funding for the both the trip and the production was predicated on Beckett being involved. As a compromise, Beckett agreed to oversee a staging directed by his friend Walter Asmus, who had served as his assistant director for the 1975 Berlin presentation, and for two weeks he supervised rehearsals at Riverside Studios in London, with Cluchey playing Pozzo. This later prompt book directly reflects the significant, Beckett-generated emandations the author made to the 1975 version, and includes additional notations and alterations.

Transferred to Rare Books. PR6003.E255 E513 1954

Item 3: Program for the 1965 Production of Waiting for Godot at the Schiller-Theater, Berlin. Berlin: 1965

8vo.; one single sheet, folded once vertically, loosely held at center; illustrated throughout with black-and-white photographs and illustrations; staple-bound; pictorial black-and-white wrappers.

A presentation copy, inscribed on front wrapper: for Rick & Teri/with love/from Sam/Paris, Oct. 88. This 1965 production of Waiting for Godot was not the first in Germany: an authorized staging, based on an inmate's own translation of the French edition, occurred in 1953 at the Lüttringhausen Prison, near Wuppertal, and another, more formal performance was presented at the Schlossparktheater in Berlin the same year. However, the Schiller-Theater's iteration was not only directed by Beckett's friend Deryk Mendel, with a text by his favored German translator Elmar Tophoven (Warten auf Godot), but was also attended in rehearsal by Beckett. The production starred Stefan Wigger as Estragon and Horst Bollmann as Vladimir.

Transferred to Rare Books. PR6003.E255 E513 1954

 


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