Behind the Scenes of “Waiting for Godot”

Sontag’s text on her experience in Sarajevo while attempting to put on the play “Waiting for Godot”.  Although Sontag gives the premise of the play, sharing the various characters, staging and costumes all she carefully designed, she is more preoccupied with what is going on behind the scenes.  Engrossed in the historical and social surroundings of the time in Sarajevo one can not help but almost dismiss the play from mind and focus on the real life hardships of the individuals playing these characters have to go through daily.  There is a war going on.  The Sarajevan people are as Sontag says, “waiting for Clinton” as the U.S government during Sarajevo’s hardship had said they would intervene.

This text is heartbreaking and inspiring.  It shows how art can become an escape even if the situation in the play is one of despair, the actors now have an outlet for their feelings.  During the rehearsals for this play a war is happening, people are dying…in fact, Sontag notes that the one time rehearsal ends early is because a fellow actor was killed.  The cast was visible distraught as this was the first time they lost a fellow actor, though they had been maimed.  I kept thinking, could I ever have such a passion, a passion that drives me beyond my horrid conditions to excel and exceed all expectations.  Actors with little food, rationing water and no electricity – fearing for the lives everyday – they ensure that they do not miss rehearsal and bring life to the candle lit stage.  It is almost unfathomable.  The buildings all around them are filled with shellings, debris has not been removed and they are overall tired and weak.

In a literal war zone these actors strive to give their people hope.  Sontag notes that the culture of the Sarajevo people is rich in theatre and the arts.  And though some may say that performing such a depressing play is not what the people needed, Sontag in resolute in her belief that not everyone wants entertainment to escape their reality, however, “there are more than a few people who feel strengthened and consoled by having their sense of reality affirmed and transfigured by art.”  Isn’t that amazing?  That behind the scenes while everything is falling apart, “Waiting for Godot” is an art form that helps to build up the Sarajevo people.


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