Cybertainment: 'Godot' resurfaces in web series

​Adrian McCoy, march 13, 2014




Rudi Azank's WHILE WAITING FOR GODOT - A Web Series of the Play Where Something Happens

Marakay Rogers, December 23, 2013




Michelle Webb, Nov 25 2013




Gabriel Neil, Critic








Ed Meisel, Theater Critic




The wait is over. Behold, your next rainy-day web series awaits; Rudi Azank’s While Waiting for Godot. Azank delivers an episodic tale for the current YouTube generation, circled around the duo Gogo and Didi and their anticipation of Godot. This web series emphasises the traditional practice of re-interpretation, and its value amongst our era of dialogic technology.

I was not familiar with this story before watching Rudi Azank’s series, though now, I am utterly engrossed with his contemporary video adaption. Originally En Attendant Godot, the story entered the public sphere as a manuscript of Irish avant-garde novelist, playwright and poet Samuel Beckett. The tale was in French, and invited viewers to accompany Vladimir and Estragon’s perpetual wait for Godot; a man that neither actually knew. Since its creation from 1948 to 1949, Godot has been discussed, interpreted and reproduced in response to different social and cultural contexts. It is through Rudi Azank’s refreshing short film edition that Beckett’s characterisation can facilitate new perceptions, narrative and resonance in the 21st century. This adaption enables the power of web videos to trigger our sense of nostalgia through a modern digital platform.


Azank is a New York-based actor and filmmaker. He translated, adapted and directed theWhile Waiting for Godot series, which initiated as his thesis project at the New York University Film School. Having since graduated, Azank developed this series with fellow student Ran Shelomi. Together, they assembled and produced this 4-episode project at NYU, which premiered on YouTube in August, 2013.

Azank’s focus on filmmaking and directing, with Shelomi’s focus in cinematography combined to create the first Godot of its kind, fully adapted for screen audiences online. It is, in fact, Rudi Azank himself who plays the character of Didi, and Azank’s co-star Shelomi plays the character of Gogo. They took inspiration from a 1953 American film shown to them during their study, Little Fugitive; a prominent element of the text being that it had a cast and crew of a mere three. Accordingly, the pair modeled some of their production methods from this. Other nods to historical filmmaking and aesthetic resides in the all black and white cinematography. Careful attention when filming has been captured on the changes in light brought on by the street lamps and lighted windows of the skyline at night. These cinematic inclusions ground Samuel Beckett’s infamous surreal story in modern day New York City, in a way that feels authentic. On a side note, I must mention the musical delights of the series: Louis Armstrong’s On A Coconut Island, Artie Shaw’s Nightmare, George Formby’s Leaning On A Lamp Post. It’s a nostalgic slice of urban America.

It must too be noted that Beckett Estate have approved Azank’s cinematic depiction, which is a rather commendable achievement in itself. This marks the transition of Godot from a historical manuscript to a current piece of online tragicomedy – openly available for international viewers to consume, interact with and share. Azank, in this instance, acts as a vital tool in enabling an underground text of today to reach, and become relevant to, a new target market.


The first episode of the web series kicks off with the finger-clicking duet of Bing Crosby and Jane Wyman’s In The Cool, Cool, Cool of The Evening. New York’s illuminated city skyline becomes the view of a vagabond sat upon a public bench. The man, Gogo, is joined by another, Didi. We are introduced to Azank’s Vladimir and Estragon equivalent, where the pair engage in ideas that centralise humanity’s petty distractions. Oblivious to their condition, Gogo and Didi delve into blasé albeit cheerful chatter over mundane and senseless topics, placing emphasis on the comical nature of Beckett’s characterisation. Their intent on waiting for Godot, a figure that could merely be an invention of their psyche, is a characteristic reflective of the strange absurdity and subsequent misery of their lives.

Azank captures the undertones of absurdist fiction through his interpretation of Beckett’s most prominent modernist works. This genre of literature lays focus on the characters’ immediate situations and their search for purpose. This is symbolised through their ultimate dabbling in rather meaningless events and actions. Skillfully, the Godot webseries delivers these explorations through the characters’ use of dark humour, and furthermore, their satirical approach in connecting to each other, and the world. Particularly, the inclusion of agnosticism feeds into Gogo’s dialogue of suicide, Didi’s dialogue of uncertainty, and their mutual skepticism of existence and morality.

The first episode Nothing To Be Done foreshadows the characters’ incessant antics to make time pass. The agnostic themes continue to be engaged in the Godot counterparts to follow,It’s The Only Version They Know!The Goodness of The Travelers, and You’re My Only Hope. Each of the four web episodes span between seven to 10 minutes – presenting contemporary viewers with small, digestible installments for the benefit of immediate consumption. The mind-wandering nature of the themes presented in the episodes are served well with their short presentations, making the central idea the heart of each video.

The final installment of the first season, You’re My Only Hope, begins with a quote from Sigmund Freud: “To laugh at our misery is the only way we have found coming to terms with it”. Freud’s words allow the comical irony to resonate, as the episode follows with Gogo and Didi’s contemplation of suicide; to them, death being an appropriate alternative to relieve their wait for an inconclusive occurrence. Their wildly ridiculous areas of conversation will have you boggling at the screen, laughing at their bowlers, and simultaneously captivated until you need to click to begin the following episode. It’s an experience worth exploring.

The Godot production relies on crowdfunding to support the making of future episodes. Thankfully, Azank and Shelomi are currently shooting Season 2 and 3 in Midtown Manhattan, where a larger cast will be introduced (including Jenel Moliere, Molly Densmore and Stephen Kaiser-Pendergrast). Of the $3000 funding goal for the second and third seasons, they reached $3015 in a 30 day period through Kickstarter, the world’s largest online platform for gathering funds towards creative projects. In turn, this mobilises the YouTube generation as a proactive audience in the production’s success, as well as their involvement in discussing its themes, analysing its characters and fueling the project’s opportunity to reach more viewers.

The While Waiting for Godot web series is clearly a valuable depiction of timeless human traits. As a product of Beckett’s time, Godot does well to connect to our digital world. It presents the human condition to ourselves, exposing our sense of time, the value of chance and the tradition of philosophical soliloquy. It is the dialogue of life, death and purpose that Azank can provide viewers with a modern, archetypical presentation of these facets of human existence.

"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."

​                      -Ed Meisel

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

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.



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.

"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."

                   -Gabriel Neil


"While Waiting for Godot" is a Web series that points the way to new approaches to presenting stage classics.

This video adaptation of playwright Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot" isn't simply a film version of a stage play, but a re-interpretation that uses video for a fresh take on a classic.

In the original play, which premiered in 1953, a pair of vagabonds, Vladimir and Estragon, sit and talk while waiting in vain for a third character, Godot. The absurdist drama has spawned many philosophical, political and social interpretations.

Rudi Azank is the director and writer. Ran Shelomi is the cinematographer. They also play the main characters. The series started out as Mr. Azank's thesis project while at New York University.

Most Web series are modeled on TV or movie formats: It's rare to see one that takes on an established play. But Beckett's work was well suited to the format, Mr. Azank said. "This cyclical, episodic nature just works for this kind of repetitious play. You can chop it into five- or 10-minute segments, and each episode has the same kind of beginning, middle and end that Beckett put on his entire play, in that it starts with them waiting and it ends with them waiting.

"The audiences in the '50s and '60s were baffled by the lack of action or plot, but there's actually a lot of action and plot in it. It's about the banter, and what happens while nothing is happening."

"While Waiting for Godot" adds a modern layer of social commentary -- specifically the issue of urban homelessness -- to the original. It's set in present-day New York, with episodes shot at night in Battery Park. "Godot" is filmed in black and white and incorporates real images of life on the street, giving it a gritty documentary feel at times. The camera pans through streets lined with homeless people sleeping, sitting, going nowhere, just like the play's characters.

Funds were raised for future seasons through a Kickstarter campaign. Season two, which takes the adaptation through the end of the play's first act, is scheduled to launch later in March or April.

"While Waiting for Godot" adds unexpected elements, such as a funny line followed by a drum roll and laugh track, mysterious text messages and a great soundtrack featuring classics such as Artie Shaw's "Nightmare" and George Formby's "Leaning on a Lamp Post."

Each episode runs seven to eight minutes.

The series has been nominated for best direction and best cinematography in the 2014 Rome Web Awards, an Italian competition that recognizes top work by Web video makers worldwide. The awards ceremony will be held in April.

The episodes can be streamed on Blip TV, YouTube and the series website.




Frenck Coppola, March 2, 2014


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

a 21st Century web series adaptation of Samuel Beckett's 'En Attendant Godot'
brand new translation, brand new setting, gool ol' waiting.

While Waiting For Godot


What if Beckett's WAITING FOR GODOT took place on the streets of New York as a contemporary work in 2013? You might have Rudi Azank's web series, WHILE WAITING FOR GODOT as the result. Its first season, in four parts, is available on Youtube and Vimeo, and on its own webpage, www.whilewaitingforgodot.com. An academic production with a cast and crew from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, its grainy black-and-white cinematography gives it the feeling of an earlier vintage of film - a silent movie that's been launched into the sound era.

If SEINFELD was the series famously "about nothing," WHILE WAITING FOR GODOT is even more so, since its original is known as the play in which nothing happens, twice. But ah, what happens while nothing is happening is the point. Just as life is what happens while you're making other plans, Beckett's heroes have a great deal occur while nothing is going on. And in the case of WHILE WAITING FOR GODOT, nothing happens in grand style, in cinematography, in acting, and in some nicely thought-out musical choices accompanying the video work. In fact, a great deal happens while nothing is happening.

The first not-quite-ten-minute installment opens with "In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening," which serves only to accentuate the nostalgic feel of the footage; it is also the first hint that the music chosen for the series is going to be interesting. Ran Shelomi and Azank star as Estragon and Vladimir (Gogo and Didi), in younger, contemporarily semi-hip, semi-panhandler guise, on a street bench as opposed to a mound, and with Estragon wrestling a modern shoe rather than a boot, when the familiar dialogue begins. "Nothing to be done," falling from Estragon's lips, immediately locates us in familiar theatrical territory, no matter the updating and the urban locale.

From a textual standpoint, the play has been updated and relocated where it counts - the Eiffel Tower is now the Empire State building, making the line "in the nineties" have a very real and precise identification to viewers of a certain age who knew the city when. As the project is authorized by Beckett's estate, that's not of concern, as Azank's updating does in fact work; it's neither heavy-handed nor ill-conceived as so many updates of scripts often are, and as a filmed work with the actual backdrop of the city behind the cast, the changes agree with the setting. It's unusual to see GODOT with actual background and physical context that's not sparse, and the grounding in a very real, though altered-by-the-camera, New York changes the viewer's perspective entirely if familiar with the stage version - the absurdism is suddenly anchored in reality, making it seem perhaps less unreal than it normally does.

The four episodes progress from there with the second installment opening in daylight with a view of the aforementioned Empire State Building.and Midtown's contrast of workers, the wealthy, and visible street poverty, and then progressing to the streets at night, with only music as the audio track, primarily strings. The first two minutes run in this vein, until Bugs Bunny, in a clip of his performing at a conductor's podium, raps the podium with his baton to bring attention, then cutting immediately back to Gogo and Didi. As a cinematographic technique, the montage and subsequent cuts work fairly well, though the sudden insertion of the very short Warner Brothers cartoon cut is more disorienting than a means of attracting attention. Perhaps the effect is intended.


Shelomi and Azank are capable actors, certainly more than verbally facile with the material newly translated by Azank, although they have the common tendency of stage actors new to cinema to over-gesture on screen. The resulting blurring of motion in the videography, especially in the first two installments, is muddy and distracting; as this is an academic project, it's to be expected that the cast would eventually master the nuances of moving from stage to screens of various sizes and be better able to compensate accordingly. However, that should not be an excuse not to follow their dialogue, which is indeed nicely handled. They are certainly facile with comedy, verbal as well as physical, and given the black-and-white and the musical choices, it is likely that a harkening to early Laurel and Hardy (and to Chaplin, as well) is intended - if so, it certainly comes across well. Azank is not lacking in directorial vision.

In updating the translation, a few choices have been made that seem natural to this writer for the urban setting and the characters, but that may bother other viewers; one is the tendency to update epithets towards the more crude than not. The line sometimes rendered "People are bloody ignorant apes" has been replaced with a comment as to their being a part of reproductive anatomy, in cruder terminology. While this may not be of concern to the generation geared towards watching web series, a Beckett web series is likely of more interest than most web series to a different and older group of viewers who may not be comfortable with such language. The production is not laden with these, but viewers of sensitive natures or who would like to have their children see it should be aware of the fact that this is there.

The series as a whole goes, visually, into territory perhaps never intended by Beckett but that is well worth exploring in the context of the play, most especially the cinema verite effect of incorporating the visual exploration of poverty that transforms the series from simply recording Beckett's play to a commentary on modern New York society and economic distribution. Although Beckett never insisted that Estragon and Vladimir be tramps, the fact that they have become such iconically makes the exploration eminently suitable to the framework.

Funding is being sought to produce a second season of WHILE WAITING... . As neatly as the heroes have been handled, one can scarcely wait to see what will be done with Pozzo and Lucky upon their arrival; thus, it is to be hoped that money comes through. Azank's website for the show contains related information.

The website is available at www.whilewaitingforgodot.com.