Why is Waiting for Godot, despite its absurdity, a popular play?

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wordprof | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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It could be argued that the play’s popularity was due because of, not despite, its “absurdity” (and most scholars dispute this designation, giving to it by Martin Esslin). This play (a rare and new two-act structure) revolutionized the theatre’s “raison d’etre”; the impact on the audience was not merely to entertain, but to put the audience through the same experience as the characters—to wait, to try to find meaning and purpose in life, to give substance to our existence.  Besides being immensely satisfying as an evening of theatre, the play gives us insight into the universality of the human condition, and does so without preaching or pretending to have the “answer.”  As such, it is a rare instance of “effing the ineffable”, and becomes an unforgettable audience experience.  In the definitive American production directed by Herbert Blau, after the last line (“Yes, let’s go”) the audience and cast were still for a good five minutes—no movement, no applause, no bowing (the stage direction reads: "They do not move.").  We all experienced “waiting” collectively at that moment.


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