Absurdist Plays and Claims to Fame

I actually wrote this piece several years ago during my first year of university. For some reason I side-lined it for a rainy day, even though it always brought a smile to my face the few times I stumbled across it afterwards. Now I’ve finished uni, a new sense of nostalgia has joined the happiness I feel when reading this piece, together with the need to preserve the memory. Aside from a little necessary doctoring (it’s amazing how much one’s writing can develop in a few short years) this story remains the same as the day it was created.

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A short while ago, as part of one my modules at university, I was asked to read the play ‘Waiting for Godot’, written by Irish playwright and poet Samuel Beckett. After flicking through the bible-thin pages of my literature anthology, I found the play in question and began to read with that all too familiar excited sensation of beginning a new book. Within minutes however, that feeling – a feeling I would soon accept as the norm – was crushed.

The play was insane. Insane, ridiculous nonsense which would crush anybody’s spirits with its convoluted, pointless dialogue and dismal setting. Having said that though, it fitted perfectly into its namesake genre: ‘Absurdist’. It was a play that meant nothing, where the characters talked with speech which amounted to nothing. After slogging my way through Act 1, my brain couldn’t take any more of the gobbledegook, and I had to go cook some ‘brain food’ (fish fingers). Afterwards, lo and behold, I had a brainwave! Instead of reading the play, I could watch it, by the aid of the wonderful invention of YouTube. Once again I settled down and, strangely, just ten minutes later I found myself laughing at the performance on the screen. It’s amazing how words on paper come alive through performance. I’ve never been much of a dramatic, but sometimes for the magic to happen you really do have to see it with your own eyes.

Anyway, the next day my friends appeared to have discovered the same thing as me, and we returned to our Poetry and Drama class with renewed hope for ‘Waiting for Godot’. We soon began to understand in more depth why exactly this was classed as an ‘Absurdist’ play. Of course, then came the questioning of the author. Why would Samuel Beckett choose to write a play like this; a play that supposedly makes no sense no matter how deeply you look into the so-called plot? What were his influences? Was he insane, or just the subject of an era of hard times? The usual answers of course – religion, politics, and feminism. I won’t enter into a debate of exploring the intricate mind of Mr. Beckett now, but rather I will skip ahead a few days to when I visited home, and told my family about this ‘Absurd’ experience.

I happened to mention the play when I was home one weekend, and at once my mum’s ears seemed to prick up. Like Samuel Beckett she is Irish through and through and, given the pint-sized population of Ireland, that means that one way or another everybody in the Republic of Ireland knows each other. Saying that, there are now approximately four million people living there, but still, I should have guessed what was coming… “Samuel Beckett was related to my mother.”

Surprise didn’t quite cover my reaction. Although, simultaneous to my surprise swept into my mind the widely-used phrase among my Irish relatives, ‘Ireland is a village’ which rapidly turned the situation into something entirely possible. I am technically (and by technically I mean my great aunt’s something’s something, so I have approximately one percent Beckett blood) related to Samuel Beckett, the renowned novelist, playwright, theatre director and poet. Not a bad claim to fame I reckon. Plus, as I mentioned to my friend in the next poetry lecture, it probably explains why my imagination is slightly questionable at times!

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Hope you enjoyed reading this blast from the past as much as I did!

Thanks for stopping by 🙂

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Signature Scar

A tiny, white, vulnerable, line of skin.

So slightly different from the rest, it seems insignificant.

But it holds a memory; a mixed memory.

When my left big toe is bare, that memory returns.

Ireland. The Shannon. The Boat.

Surrounded by family. We could see the riverbed if we leaned far enough over the smooth edge.

We trailed our fingers behind us through the water, making our own currents. Tiny fins cutting the blue, making ripples.

We were ready. Wetsuits. Goggles. Flippers. Wait. No flippers.

The middle of the lake beckoned us.

The key turned in the ignition and we were still.

 

We rose, turned to enter the cool water.

One, two, three, then my turn.

I leapt.

Landed.

My senses reacted.

I struck out.

Ducked my head under.

Dived.

Kicked.

Pure, blue, clear, bliss.

 

I climbed out glistening, shivering, numb.

I looked down.

Red.

Confusion.

My toe was cut, blood coursing.

It was cleaned, sterilised. Only then did we see the line.

Reddy-pink now. Not white yet.

A tiny, almost missable mark.

Signature mark.

Souvenir.

The Shannon has a rocky bed.

I wasn’t the only one.

We all have a signature mark somewhere.

A signature scar.