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Beckett: Waiting for Godot

1. Who was Samuel Beckett?

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About this Lecture


In this module, we give an overview of Beckett’s life, career, and literary output, focusing in particular on the three ‘phases’ of his work, and his life and work in France before, during and after the Second World War.


In this course, Professor Anna McMullan (University of Reading) explores Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. We begin in the first module with an overview of Beckett’s life, career and literary output. After that, we think about the mixed reception of Waiting for Godot when it was first performed in Paris (1953) and London (1944), before moving on in the third module to consider how the play refined the rules of theatre as they were understood by audiences and critics at the time. In the fourth module, we think about some of the ways in which the play has been interpreted, before turning in the fifth module to the 1975 production of the play in Berlin, which Beckett directed himself. Finally, in the sixth module, we think about some other productions of Waiting for Godot, and some of the issues that the play presents to directors and audiences approaching the play today.


Anna McMullan is Professor in the Department of Film, Theatre and Television at the University of Reading. Her main research area is the drama of Samuel Beckett, on which she has published two monographs (Theatre on Trial: the later drama of Samuel Beckett and Performing Embodiment in Samuel Beckett's Drama), a co-edited volume (Reflections on Beckett), and many essays. She has also published widely on contemporary Irish theatre and performance, on gender and performance and on theatre and conflict.

Anna has taught at the Universities of Trinity College Dublin, and Queen's University Belfast. She was academic Chair of the Belfast-Sarajevo Initiative for the Creative and Performing Arts (2009-11), a student-led series of creative exchanges between artists of both cities and between students of Drama Studies at Queen's and students from the Academy of Performing Arts, University of Sarajevo.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

McMullan, A. (2018, August 15). Beckett: Waiting for Godot - Who was Samuel Beckett? [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

McMullan, A. "Beckett: Waiting for Godot – Who was Samuel Beckett?." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,