Cybertaiment: 'Godot' resurfaces in Web series

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"While Waiting for Godot" is a Web series that points the way to new approaches to presenting stage classics.

This video adaptation of playwright Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot" isn't simply a film version of a stage play, but a re-interpretation that uses video for a fresh take on a classic.

In the original play, which premiered in 1953, a pair of vagabonds, Vladimir and Estragon, sit and talk while waiting in vain for a third character, Godot. The absurdist drama has spawned many philosophical, political and social interpretations.

Rudi Azank is the director and writer. Ran Shelomi is the cinematographer. They also play the main characters. The series started out as Mr. Azank's thesis project while at New York University.

Most Web series are modeled on TV or movie formats: It's rare to see one that takes on an established play. But Beckett's work was well suited to the format, Mr. Azank said. "This cyclical, episodic nature just works for this kind of repetitious play. You can chop it into five- or 10-minute segments, and each episode has the same kind of beginning, middle and end that Beckett put on his entire play, in that it starts with them waiting and it ends with them waiting.

"The audiences in the '50s and '60s were baffled by the lack of action or plot, but there's actually a lot of action and plot in it. It's about the banter, and what happens while nothing is happening."

"While Waiting for Godot" adds a modern layer of social commentary -- specifically the issue of urban homelessness -- to the original. It's set in present-day New York, with episodes shot at night in Battery Park. "Godot" is filmed in black and white and incorporates real images of life on the street, giving it a gritty documentary feel at times. The camera pans through streets lined with homeless people sleeping, sitting, going nowhere, just like the play's characters.

Funds were raised for future seasons through a Kickstarter campaign. Season two, which takes the adaptation through the end of the play's first act, is scheduled to launch later in March or April.

"While Waiting for Godot" adds unexpected elements, such as a funny line followed by a drum roll and laugh track, mysterious text messages and a great soundtrack featuring classics such as Artie Shaw's "Nightmare" and George Formby's "Leaning on a Lamp Post."

Each episode runs seven to eight minutes.

The series has been nominated for best direction and best cinematography in the 2014 Rome Web Awards, an Italian competition that recognizes top work by Web video makers worldwide. The awards ceremony will be held in April.

The episodes can be streamed on Blip TV, YouTube and the series website.

whilewaitingforgodot.com

The 2014 TwitterFiction Festival is back for its third year.

The variety of submissions shows that there's a lot more to using Twitter for long-form expression than telling a story in 140-character installments. Twitter's different functions offer several new ways to tell a story.

This year, they take several forms, including parody, where the author tweets from the perspective of a real or fictitious character, crowdsourced or collaborative narratives, using different Twitter handles to create a group of characters who tell a story and stories that incorporate Vine or Twitter images.

Stories included in this year's submissions include the rise and fall of Anne Boleyn from her dog's point of view, a Bollywood movie created entirely out of visual tweets, a hostage situation in a bank that plays out in real time and a woman live-tweeting from a blind date.

Well-known authors, including Anthony Marra, Tracy Guzeman, Alexander McCall Smith and others have created works of fiction for the Twitter festival, and there are also works posted by Twitter fiction contest winners. Anyone can create a story during the festival by submitting it with the #TwitterFiction hashtag.

The TwitterFiction Festival runs through March 16.

twitterfictionfestival.com.


Adrian McCoy: amccoy@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1865.

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