For Off-Ramp today, I was able to interview Paul Chan who served as artistic director for a production of Waiting For Godot in New Orleans back in 2007. It was one of my last cultural experiences in that city as a resident, and so it holds a special place in my heart.
I'll admit to some skepticism when some artists from someplace else came up with this idea - Bunk excluded, who came up in Pontchartrain Park. I was a carpetbagger. I knew that some carpetbaggers could be flaky. Heck, I was on my way out myself, against most odds and plenty of reason. But Godot won me over. The creative team knew plenty of people, talked to plenty of people. They served gumbo, and the night I went in Gentilly, my ladies The Pinettes, who are the self-proclaimed world's-only all-female brass band led us to the stage, and I got a whole big dose of everything I would soon find in short supply: crawfish, brass, neighbors, community in the streets at all times.
All that came to me while I waited. So when Paul Chan talked about why a play about waiting made perfect sense in New Orleans, I got it. I told Paul that when I saw it these lines of Beckett's sounded - what - louder, more, bigger, in my head:
Later this year we'll get swamped with 5 year anniversary of Katrina pieces. It'll feel to some of us like the media (yes, I know the irony of that noun) and everybody else have been waiting to care again. One thing I learned in New Orleans is I'd prefer to fill my time differently than just sitting around, even if I have to wait.