'03s revamp 'Godot' for thesis
Most proposals for senior theses consist of several pages of thorough explanation, research and planning. Alexis McGuinness '03 and Deborah Meschan '03 had four roman numerals and one plea: "Trust us."
Nine months later, that initial pitch has turned into "Didi & Gogo," a theatrical creation of McGuinness' and Meschan's responding to Samuel Beckett's classic play "Waiting for Godot."
But what exactly is "Didi & Gogo"? Perhaps it is best to start with the initial idea for the project.
"The creation always begins with the playwright and it never comes from the actors. So we got to thinking, how can we reverse the process?" Meschan said.
They weren't quite sure what they were going to end up with, but from the start the two were sure that it was going to be pretty unconventional. In the fall, they went into the Bentley Theater to begin rehearsals with no script and no director.
They wanted to create a piece that challenged the traditional ideas of gender in the theater. "We wanted to play with different archetypes," said McGuinness, "What is the male archetype? What is the female archetype?" This led them to "Waiting for Godot" as the soil out of which this strange crop has grown.
"We both did 'Godot' at the National Theater Institute and because the casting was gender-blind, I just got to feel so comfortable playing both male and female characters," McGuinness explained.
After the theater department approved the project, two important figures signed on to help.
The first was Donny Levit, an NTI director who had worked with both McGuinness and Meschan before and helped structure the show. The second was theater professor Amy Holzapfel, who became the thesis advisor for the project and offered a fresh perspective.
But at its heart, "Didi & Gogo" is still the baby of its original creators.
"She's a great group member, and once we knew we could focus when the adults weren't around, we were good," Meschan said of McGuinness.
"I think we both have common goals in what we want theater to be, so no matter how different our ideas are, they fuse together well," McGuinness said of her partner. "There's also a huge degree of trust. I can even fart in front of her and she doesn't mind."
Though the project has long been in the works, McGuinness and Meschan said the show will change considerably once there is an audience.
"Every night it's going to be so different. It's going to be about how we can use the audience as another member of the ensemble. We've left some parts unscripted in which we'll just play off the audience," said Meschan.
"We're definitely clowns and we want people to have fun," Meschan added.
So what exactly is "Didi & Gogo"? The best answer might have come from theater professor Omar Shapli. When he saw it, McGuinness recalled, he called it "unique and bafflingly attractive."
"Didi & Gogo" will be performed at 8 p.m. tonight and 7 and 9 p.m. tomorrow in Bentley Theater.