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No more ‘Waiting’

By Mark Shanahan & Meredith Goldstein
Globe Staff / January 25, 2011

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UMass-Amherst has abruptly canceled an upcoming performance of “Waiting for Godot’’ because Samuel Beckett’s estate objects to the production. Director Christopher McElroen told school officials he’s been forced to scrap the Feb. 15 show, which is part of a larger tour, because the author’s estate feels the production isn’t in keeping with Beckett’s intention. McElroen’s “Waiting for Godot,’’ which has been performed around the country to considerable acclaim since 2006, is set in post-Katrina New Orleans and features two African-American men desperate for help as they wait on a rooftop surrounded by flood waters. What’s odd is that Beckett’s estate had previously approved the show but has apparently changed its mind and now won’t give McElroen the rights to perform it. “There is no doubt that I have pushed the boundaries of the text by placing the show in New Orleans,’’ McElroen wrote in an e-mail to UMass officials. “But that is the very thing that has been celebrated about the production, which has garnered international acclaim for its faithfulness, its sense of contemporary relevance and immediacy, its artistic merit, and for introducing Samuel Beckett into communities that would otherwise never experience his work.’’ Attempts to reach McElroen and the Beckett estate were unsuccessful yesterday. UMass spokesperson Shawn Farley told us there was a lot of interest on campus in seeing the show.