Art And Culture

Mehdishahi’s ‘Endgame’ on Stage From Dec. 4

Mehdishahi’s ‘Endgame’ on Stage From Dec. 4Mehdishahi’s ‘Endgame’ on Stage From Dec. 4

‘Endgame,’ a one-act absurdist play by Irish playwright, theater director, novelist and poet Samuel Beckett will be staged by theater director Mohammad Mehdishahi next month.

The play will go on stage at Molavi Theater in Tehran without any changes or adaptation. “In fact, we didn’t dare alter a single word from this 20th century masterpiece. We only introduced our ideas in the stage design and settings,” Mehdishahi told Khabaronline.

Endgame will open December 4 at the theater’s Small Hall and run through December 23, starting at 7:30 pm daily. Majid Asqari, Rahil Rohani, Mostafa Moqimi and Hamid Reza Noqredoust are the cast.

  End of Game

The avant-garde writer Beckett (1906-1989) had originally written the play in French and named it ‘Fin de Partie’, a term that can refer to the last part of a game; but since Beckett himself was an avid chess player, its title is usually thought to be referring to the final part of a chess game that ends with ‘checkmating’ the opponent to win the game.

The play’s main character Hamm is an invalid and also blind. The absurd play has four characters. Clov is Hamm’s servant. A restless person, he is forever walking, often pacing from one side of the room to another and looking out of the window for something.

Imprisoned in his wheeled chair, Hamm continuously comments that no one suffers more in life than him. For Hamm, there is no reason for being on this Earth, particularly not in the damp and chilly hole where his limbless parents Nagg and Nell also live in ‘dustbins’ next to each other. Hamm behaves badly. At the end, he is alone.

Mehdishahi analyzes the play: “Good and evil oppose each other, so do beauty and ugliness. The four characters in the play are an embodiment of the opposing forces and the stage is actually a small world.”

Endgame is commonly considered along with ‘Waiting for Godot,’ to be among Beckett’s most important works.

  Prison Experience

In 1957, when ‘Waiting for Godot’ was to be staged at San Quentin California State Prison, all expected the play to be interrupted by the prisoners, Mehdishahi said. “But things turned out otherwise; the play was so absorbing that the prisoners spent hours interpreting and remarking on it.”

The San Quentin staging took place after Becket received an encouraging letter from an inmate of Luttringhausen Prison near Remscheid, Germany. In October 1954, the inmate wrote to Becket: “You will be surprised to be receiving a letter about your play ‘Waiting for Godot’ from a prison where so many thieves, forgers, thugs, crazy men and killers spend a life waiting … and waiting … and waiting. Waiting for what? Godot? Perhaps.”

In the play, two characters are waiting for the arrival for someone named Godot, but he never arrives.

  Stage Settings

In designing the show settings, Mehdishahi referred to the paintings by Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944), a Russian painter and art theorist, as well as those by Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966), a Swiss sculptor, painter, draughtsman and printmaker.

He has also explored the imageries of T. S. Eliot (1888-1965), a British playwright and essayist who is said to be among the 20th century’s major poets; “because all the three figures had influenced Beckett,” Mehdishahi said.

“I reviewed their works and used them in designing the décor, costumes and the mise-en-scene. The design of the décor follows Kandinsky’s broken lines. In casting, I tried to consider the features of Giacometti’s sculptures that are replete with contrast and bipolarity. And in designing the ambience, I was inspired by Eliot’s The Waste Land,” a poem often read as a representation of the disillusionment of the post-war generation, and known for its slippage between satire and prophecy; its abrupt changes of speaker, location, and time.

“At the very first, when audiences enter the hall, we tell them that they are watching a play and we are going to tell them a big lie,” Mehdishahi added.


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