Hope College Theatre will open its 2004 season with "Waiting for Godot," a tragicomedy in two acts by Samuel Beckett.

The production will run Friday-Saturday, Feb. 13-14, and Wednesday-Saturday, Feb. 18-21. Curtain time is 8 p.m., and all performances will be in the DeWitt Center studio theatre.

Published in 1952 as "En attendant Godot," the play premiered January 5, 1953, at the Theatre de Babylone, rivre gauche, in Paris. "Waiting for Godot" is still renowned as a unique dramatic innovation and the Theatre of the Absurd's first theatrical success. During its opening season, it ran for 400 performances at the Theatre de Babylone and was praised by dramatists such as Jean Anouilh, William Saroyan, Thornton Wilder, and Tennessee Williams. "It will make it easier for me and everyone else to write freely in the theatre," Saroyan commented.

"Waiting for Godot" presents a world which exemplifies the classic irrationality of the Universe and the futility of human action, which are hallmarks of the Theatre of the Absurd. Absurdist theatre typically dismisses the concepts of chronological plot, logical language, and recognizable settings.

The playwright of "Waiting for Godot," Samuel Beckett, was born near Dublin, Ireland, on April 13, 1906, and is remembered to have stated, "I had little talent for happiness." His views are reflected in several of his works, especially in "Waiting for Godot," in which the characters constantly battle the human condition.

All of Beckett's major works were written in French. He believed that French, as opposed to his native English, forced him to be more disciplined and to use the language more wisely. However, Beckett himself eventually translated "Waiting for Godot" into English.

"Beckett's plays offer exciting and challenging roles for actors," said Daina Robins, the production's director, who is an associate professor of theatre and chair of the department at Hope. "In 1996 I had great fun directing his 'Endgame' in the studio theatre, and I am again enjoying the process of working to understand and stage 'Godot.' The student cast of 'Godot' is imaginative, flexible and diligent... wonderful attributes to bring to such a rich text."

The cast includes sophomore David Paarlberg of Glen Rock, N.J., as Estragon; senior Tim Heck of Libertyville, Ill., as Vladimir; senior Kristin M. Dowedite of Livonia as Pozzo; sophomore Heather Janofski of Marquette as Lucky; and junior Clarissa Stowell Gregory of Portage, Wis., as the Boy.

Scenery and props are designed by theatre faculty member Richard L. Smith, and costumes, makeup, and hair are co-designed by faculty member Michelle Bombe and sophomore Jessica Bodtke of Grand Junction. Lighting and sound design is by faculty member Perry Landes, and Paul K. Anderson of the Hope staff is the technical director. The show's stage manager is sophomore Myra Green of Laurel, Mont. The assistant stage managers are sophomore Mike Dominiak of Dearborn and freshman Megan Elise Dougherty of Normal, Ill.

Tickets for "Waiting for Godot" are $7 for regular admission, $5 for students and members of the college's faculty and staff, and $4 for senior citizens, and are available in the theatre lobby box office in the DeWitt Center.

The box office is open Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on weekday performance nights until 8 p.m. The box office may be contacted at (616) 395-7890.

The DeWitt Center is located on Columbia Avenue at 12th Street.