21 November 2010

Crucible: Waiting for Godot

Not writing for a time doesn't stop the mind composing, and filing away, things which it would like to write. So it is with my recent fallow silence: there are several bits and pieces which half formed and now itch to be written down. This is the first to scratch its itch.

Gloucester cathedral, a while ago, hosted Crucible, a major exhibition of sculpture. I've heard a multitude of views from religious believers (friends, colleagues, acquaintances, chance encountered strangers), for an against and everything between, of which one was that a cathedral is not an appropriate venue for this work. Not for art, or sculpture, in particular: for this particular set of sculptures, or at least for some of them*.

For myself, both the work and the location impressed me greatly. Several trains of thought were triggered, some of them (despite my unrepentant and unreconstructed atheism) inevitably to do with religion and, for the most part, favourably so. I'll tease those out gradually, but will just kick off with one of them.

The photograph here shows a piece called Waiting for Godot, by Marc Quinn. As a nonbeliever I find it sublimely witty, and as I watched other visitors the most common reaction was laughter. More important, though: as a nonbeliever I was impressed by its presence, by the demonstration of both tolerance and willingness of believers to take a joke. I can't imagine a better piece of positive PR for religion.

* The most extreme view I've heard was "there is not one single exhibit here that should ever have been allowed inside a house of God". To be fair, though, I've heard just as many voices expressing approval.


Geoff said...

"........the most common reaction was laughter........" Laughter in the face of something unsettling is often the case it would seem. I was watching the news on tv when I saw something that was so shocking to me that my reaction, much to my woman friend's disgust and my surprise, was one of laughter. It took some explaining to her.
As for Godot. I was, back when BBC2 was "civilized",watching Waiting For Godot".
After endless moments of timeless time my father with much inmpatience suddenly got up from his chair and with much muttering about " not watching anymore of this rubbish" turned it off !
I do not know whether or not Godot arrived - I've heard rumours but are they to be trusted? Anyway, I'm still waiting.

Ray Girvan said...

Obligatory pop culture allusion: Constant Craving.

Geoff said...

" Obligatory pop culture allusion "
? ? ?

Felix said...

Geoff: the K D Lang video which Ray referenced shows a performance of the play your Dad turned off: Beckett's Waiting for Godot.

As to whether Godot arrived ... I wouldn't want to spoil the suspense! [grin])

Ray Girvan said...

The story is quite interesting: Mark Romanek, who directed the video (award-winning), wanted to do a film of Godot, but the Beckett estate, in usual miserable-toad mode, refused permission. If it were anything like the snippets in the video, I'd want to see it. The theatre scenes recreate the 1953 premiere at the Théâtre de Babylone, Paris.

Felix said...

A new film of Godot would be a grand thing. Also, hopefully, less prohibitively expensive than the DVDs currently available!

The first time I saw the play (I'd read it previously) was in 1969 ... Vladimir and Estragon were played, respectively, by Barry O'Quigley and Dave Ayres ... it was a sixth form production at my school, but nevertheless riveted me to my seat and is still vivid in memory.