Stage Center Theatre produces Beckett’s ‘Endgame’

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Northeastern Illinois University’s Stage Centre Theatre is set to debut its newest production, “Endgame,” on Thursday, April 16.

Written by Irish playwright Samuel Beckett, “Endgame” is a uniquely crafted play that focuses on two characters – Hamm, a blind man who is unable to stand, and his servant, Clov, who is equally physically impaired. The play deals with raw emotion and the pure human essence in the face of approaching death.

“Endgame is about two men who are living in a basement. One is a master, and the other is the servant,” said Rodney Higginbotham, director of the play and professor of Communication, Media, and Theatre. “They are coming to the realization that their world is ending. The master character is fearful of death, while the servant character is more eager to die.”

Despite the play’s heavy theme of death, there is also some comic relief present through secondary characters.

“There are also the parents of the master, who appear in and out of a garbage can, as their legs were cut off by a bicycle,” Higginbotham said. “There is a long-winded joke that the father tells over and over, but the mother is daydreaming while he is talking.”

The play was originally written in French, but was translated to English by Beckett. It is also critically considered one of Beckett’s greatest single works and showcases his style of absurdity.

“In Beckett’s world, he provides no answers to the ultimate questions of life and in the plots of his plays,” Higginbotham said. “I don’t share his world views, but they are interesting and fascinating.”

Beckett’s distinct style offered some challenges, but Higginbotham and crew have worked through it.

“Endgame was more challenging on both parts, directing and for the actors, than anything I’ve done before,” Higginbotham said. “It was difficult for the actors to learn the shift of an abrupt direction, but they were great.”

Higginbotham also expressed how there were physical challenges in the play. Those ranged from the servant character settling on a limp walk to the parental figures managing their motion from inside a garbage can. They have all found ways to make it work, and it has made the play dynamic.

“I’m curious to see how students will respond to this. There is not a lot of activity. So they will have to listen carefully to what is being said,” Higginbotham said. “It is distinctly very different than what they would be accustomed to.”

“Endgame” runs April 16, 17, 18, 23 and 24 at 7:30 p.m. and April 25 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available online or by calling (773) 442-4630 and are $10 and free for all Northeastern students with ID.