There is nothing more sure in our lives than death – it will happen to all of us.
“Endgame,” a very simple but yet very complicated play written by Irish playwright Samuel Beckett, conveys this unpleasant truth: that life is just waiting for its end. This one-act play with four actors, directed by Rodney Higginbotham, ran at NEIU Stage Center Theatre from April 16-25.
The play originally premiered in London in 1957 and is considered one of Beckett’s most important works. It focuses on a dialogue between two characters, Hamm, a blind man who is unable to stand, and his servant, Clov, who is unable to sit and is physically impaired. They live in a basement and realize that the world is coming to an end. Hamm, a character with a dominant personality, is fearful of death. On the contrary, Clov, a humble servant, is accustomed to thinking about his last day and is more eager to die. The ascetic scenography reflects the obscure and ambiguous tone of the play.
Members of the audience had different opinions about “Endgame.”
Angel Ortiz, Communication major, enjoyed the play, but some parts were difficult for him to understand. “I was split on thoughts about the play,” Ortiz said. “I couldn’t decide whether it was about the sole survivors of an apocalypse or individuals in purgatory.”
The Theatre of the Absurd, the style of plays which Beckett’s belong to, is not easy to understand. It is full of symbolism and hidden meanings. Davor Palos, the Special Events Facilitator in the Angelina Pedroso Center, felt dreadful after he saw the play. “It’s been almost a week since I saw the play and I’m still amazed,” he said.
“Our life should be like rich ecosystem in which there are animals, plants, lakes…when one of these parts is damaged, the nature helps it to recover,” Palos said. “Imagine our life similar to cornfield – homogenous and focused on one thing. One bacteria can destroy it all.”
Before watching “Endgame,” it is necessary to conduct research and read about the philosophical aspects of the play as well as the time during which it was written. Palos suggested that Nietzsche or Kierkegaard would be a good starting point. Maybe with some preparation, students can understand the play more, appreciate the minimalistic scenography and find out what the hidden messages are about.