"We took the very basic idea of theater, which is a relationship between an actor and an audience, and expanded that to build community."
-Christopher McElroen, co-founder and executive director of Classical Theatre of Harlem-
Beckett's Waiting for Godot has been lauded by many as the play of our time. (A recent British National Theatre survey determined it to be the 20th century’s "most significant" English language play).
For the Classical Theatre of Harlem the play took on new significance in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. As McElroen said in an interview with the Seven Days (Burlington, Vt.): "It just seemed to fit, without having to change anything." On a visit to New Orleans to teach McElroen's friend and colleague, visual artist Paul Chan, reported that the stark post-Katrina landscape in the city’s most devastated neighborhoods "reminded him of every production of Waiting for Godot he’d ever seen."
And so with an all African-American cast and a 15,000-gallon swimming pool with a rooftop coming out of the water, the show premiered in New York City eight months ago and is now on tour in New England.
Before it's New York premiere though, the show was rehearsed, developed and performed in New Orleans in situ. That process became a community arts project that raised more than $50,000 for local grassroots organizations.
Read the Seven Days article for more details on this inspiring project.