Michelle Webb, Nov 25 2013
"In terms of online comedy, I have yet to see any examples of reinterpretation...
That is until now. A new web series, While Waiting for Godot, is doing for the web what it’s been missing so far, the tradition of re-interpretation.
Based on an original translation, by series director Rudi Azank, of Beckett’s En Attendant Godot, While Waiting for Godot is certainly based on a classic, but brings a good level of originality to the show... as it stands, the acting from Shelomi and Azank is strong enough to carry most shows. They play their characters with assuredness and real charisma, and have a wonderful physicality about their performances which make their characters jump out of the screen.
While Waiting for Godot is a wonderfully unique, surreal and darkly humerous web series. It’s bringing classic theatre to the 21st century audience with a great deal of creativity and confidence. This could so easily have been simply a filmed play, but the neat little additions the show’s creators have added on have made this a truly brilliant show."
One of the most striking differences between television and theatre lies in their attitudes to reinterpretation. It seems to have been a centuries-old tradition for plays to be reinterpreted and re-imagined many times over – a version of A Midsummer Nights’ Dream now will look and feel somewhat different to when it was first written. Films have only recently begun taking part in this tradition with their much-maligned spate of remakes and reboots. Television, and especially comedy television seems never to have got onto that bandwagon themselves. Certainly shows like Hannibal and the up-coming Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are based on previous works, but their basis is in the more shiny world of film, and they are extensions of those worlds rather than reinterpretations. Why is it that people will go and see A Midsummer Nights’ Dream, essentially the same comedy it always has been, over and over again, but if you asked if there’s going to be a new version of I Love Lucy or a re-booted series of Taxi, people might start to look at you funny? Granted Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the greatest TV show of all time, if you disagree you’re wrong) was based off a film, as was Stargate SG1, but these are rare gems in TV land. In terms of online comedy, I have yet to see any examples of reinterpretation.
That is until now. A new web series based on Samuel Beckett’s emanating from New York University called While Waiting for Godot, is doing for the web what it’s been missing so far, the tradition of re-interpretation.
Based on an original translation, by series director Rudi Azank, of Beckett’s En Attendant Godot, While Waiting for Godot is certainly based on a classic, but brings a good level of originality to the show. Set in modern-day New York City, the plot, for those of you who don’t know goes thusly. Two vagrants called Gogo, played by Ran Shelomi, and Didi, played by Azank (Estragon and Vladimir in the original) wait for a man called Godot to arrive, although whether he was supposed to arrive that day, or at all, is put into doubt. In the meantime, they philosophise, ponder and even discuss suicide whilst their absent companion stubbornly refuses to turn up.
Sadly I am something of a philistine and have never actually seen Waiting for Godot – but I think that probably puts me in the target audience for the show. Bringing something with the importance of Godot to a computer-based constituency, one who never, or almost never, attends the theatre can only be a good thing in my book. Only four episodes in to the two act play and I am already intrigued to see the rest of what is a very odd play in episodic form. I know, because I did my research, that there are other characters in the play due to turn up in later episodes, but as it stands, the acting from Shelomi and Azank is strong enough to carry most shows. They play their characters with assuredness and real charisma, and have a wonderful physicality about their performances which make their characters jump out of the screen.
As this is a series based on an absurdist Samuel Beckett play from the 1950s, don’t expect the humour to have you convulsing – rather expect the show to be intriguing, odd, darkly funny and increasingly tragic the more attention you pay it. In fact, this series practically demands re-watching and the short, episodic nature of Whilst Waiting for Godot allows for a deeper understanding of the play than you might get from one whole film. The dialogue, Beckett’s own, but a new translation is as surreal as you might expect, occasionally throwing up obscure biblical references. Fortunately helpful quotes from theologians, the bible and philosophers at the start of each episode make these easier to understand and provide some context for the lay viewer.
Famously called the play in which nothing happens, twice, it’s hard to give a summary of the plot beyond what I’ve said already. The series is filmed in black and white, outside next to the Hudson river, giving the whole thing an otherworldly, abandoned feel. The sound is very well produced, especially considering the show has been filmed on location in Battery Park, New York. Each episode opens with American folk and blues music, which is a nice touch of local colour. If there is a weakness to this show it would be the infrequent throwbacks to silent film, where action is sped up over jingling piano music. These segments are pretty jarring and upset the odd, unreal atmosphere which the rest of the show works so hard to build up. Perhaps those sections are supposed to be confrontational to the viewer, this is after all modernist theatre, but personally I just don’t think they work very well. Fortunately these sections are short, few and far between. A new touch which I particularly liked was the addition of some beautifully shot introductory shots at the start of each episode focusing on homelessness and street life in New York City, in the light of which the rest of the show gains some poignancy. This series isn’t afraid to let its shots linger and the wonderfully contrasty lighting gets the outing it deserves.
While Waiting for Godot is a wonderfully unique, surreal and darkly humerous web series. It’s bringing classic theatre to the 21st century audience with a great deal of creativity and confidence. This could so easily have been simply a filmed play, but the neat little additions the show’s creators have added on have made this a truly brilliant show. Only four episodes are on YouTube right now, but the last episode of season one is due out soon, and season 2 is currently being shot. The show’s creators are also turning to crowdfunding to finance seasons three and four, their campaign can be found here. In short, watch this series, you’ll get a smile out of it, it’ll make you think and it’ll give you a very approachable account of one of the most influential plays of the 20th century.
Sept. 25, 2013
Ed Meisel, Theater Critic
Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot” is perhaps one of the most iconic and yet cryptic plays of the 20th century. Once described by Irish literary critic Vivian Mercier as “a play in which nothing happens ... twice,” it originally was written in French and introduces audiences to Vladimir and Estragon, the two men who perpetually and expectantly wait on a desolate road near a tree for the arrival of Godot, a man they do not know and who never quite arrives.
Much has been written about “Godot,” both critically and academically, and innumerable performances have occurred since it was created in the late 1940s. For these reasons it is truly surprising when one encounters a fresh and enlightening new performance of “Godot.” And yet, one has assuredly arrived in the form of a new “tragicomic webseries” by local artist and recent New York University film school graduate Rudi Azank.
As part of his final film project for NYU, Azank personally translated Beckett’s original unpublished 1948 manuscript of “En Attendant Godot,” which had not yet been subjected to the censorship and adaptations of later publications. Azank then adapted his own translation to the short film genre, creating vignettes shot in black and white. He admittedly does so with a nod to the cinematographic styling of the Italian-neorealist filmmakers from post-war Italy, choosing, however, to set his “Godot” as a modern-day New York City story.
Using the original manuscript as his inspiration, Azank highlights the vaudevillian schtick he believes Beckett intended for his characters as a natural and sometimes disturbing foil to their suffering.
Azank brings sharper contrast to this foil, however, by affectionately framing each 10 minute web-vignette with a montage of candidly shot real footage of New York street life featuring the homeless. The effect is tender and poignant, and is sharply reminiscent of the photographic work of Walker Evans with the sharecroppers of the late 1930s.
“The poverty aspect of the play is one I feel is central to there being a palpable conflict or narrative for these characters,” Azank said. “Take the focus away from the severity of Didi and Gogo’s situation of desolation, and you kill the chance for the audience to care about the two bums and understand their story, and so people start to think there is no story to the play.”
By breaking the play into 10-minute vignettes, Azank not only has made Beckett’s masterwork more readily digestible to modern audiences, but continually resets the tonality of each piece at the director’s discretion. Through his own vision of the modern urban impoverished, Azank emphasizes the humanity of the piece and makes it timely.
“I feel looking at the play with this simple, humble core subject matter of poverty in mind transforms this incomprehensible absurd piece into a relatable, understandable modern work, and in the wake of the Great Recession, our view of this subject is closer to that of the original 1950s audience, whom Beckett was writing for in the wake of WWII and the Great Depression,” Azank said.
The first four installments of Azank’s “While Waiting for Godot” are available for viewing for free online at www.whilewaitingforgodot.com. The rest of the work, however, is under production, and if you would like the opportunity to support this local artist in his worthy efforts you can do so at the same site.
Sept 18, 2013
From New York I present
While Waiting for Godot - The web series nominated for
2 Rome Web Awards 2014
As you know by now FrenckCinema will be among the judges of Rome Web Awards 2014 , the first edition of an event dedicated to the greatest talents of the web from all over the world, taking a cue from this important opportunity today I'll talk about one of the nominated web series.
The project in question is titled While Waiting for Godot , web series written, directed and performed by the New York Azank Rudi , who will attend the RWA 2014 in the categories Best Directorand Best Cinematography .
While Waiting for Godot is a modern adaptation of the play " En Attendant Godot "bySamuel Beckett , Irish playwright considered by many as one of the most influential writers of the twentieth century.
Azank readjusts in the modern work very minimalist and focused mainly on the difficulties of being human in giving meaning to his life, the protagonists are two homeless people who constantly waiting for this elusive Godot talk about this and that highlighting many aspects of their social status.
Fully deserved the two nominations at the 2014 RWA , in particular a photograph of While Waiting for Godot shines away a lot of the popular standard for projects of this magnitude, the lights and colors of the New York of Azank give the film a touch immortal who marries perfectly with the choice of monochrome style.
In the month of March will be online the second season of waiting While Waiting for Godotand for this FrenckCinema , for the first time in Italy, offers you the opportunity to take a look at the teaser released recently.
"Azank brings sharper contrast to this foil, however, by affectionately framing each 10 minute web-vignette with a montage of candidly shot real footage of New York street life featuring the homeless. The effect is tender and poignant, and is sharply reminiscent of the photographic work of Walker Evans with the sharecroppers of the late 1930s...
By breaking the play into 10-minute vignettes, Azank not only has made Beckett’s masterwork more readily digestible to modern audiences, but continually resets the tonality of each piece at the director’s discretion. Through his own vision of the modern urban impoverished, Azank emphasizes the humanity of the piece and makes it timely."
Da New York vi presento
While Waiting for Godot - La web serie nominata a
2 Rome Web Awards 2014
Come oramai sapete FrenckCinema sarà tra i giudici delRome Web Awards 2014, prima edizione di una manifestazione dedicata ai più grandi talenti del web provenienti da ogni parte del mondo, prendendo spunto da questa importante opportunità oggi vi parlerò di una delle web series nominata.
Il progetto in questione s'intitola While Waiting for Godot, web serie scritta, diretta ed interpretata dal newyorkese Rudi Azank, che parteciperà ai RWA 2014 nelle categorie Miglior Regia eMiglior Fotografia.
While Waiting for Godot è un moderno adattamento cinematografico dell'opera teatrale "En Attendant Godot" di Samuel Beckett, drammaturgo irlandese considerato da molti come uno degli scrittori più influenti del XX secolo.
Azank riadatta nell'epoca moderna un'opera molto minimalista ed incentrata principalmente sulle difficoltà dell'essere umano nel dare un significato alla propria vita, protagonisti sono due senzatetto che nell'attesa costante di questo fantomatico Godot parlano del più e del meno sottolineando molti aspetti della loro condizione sociale.
Meritate pienamente le due nominations ai RWA 2014, nel particolare la fotografia di While Waiting for Godot brilla allontanandosi di parecchio dagli standard apprezzati per progetti di questa portata, le luci ed i colori della New York di Azank donano alla pellicola un tocco immortale che si sposa a perfezione con la scelta dello stile monocromatico.
Nel mese di marzo sarà online la seconda attesa stagione di While Waiting for Godot e proprio per questo FrenckCinema, per la prima volta in Italia, vi offre l'opportunità di dare un'occhiata al teaser rilasciato da poco.
Gabriel Neil, Critic