(Jo Glanville's article appeared in the Guardian, 9/15.)

'Godot is here': how Samuel Beckett and Vaclav Havel changed history

Samuel Beckett wrote a play for Václav Havel when he was in jail. On being freed, Havel returned the favour. It was the making of a great dramatic double-act

In 1982, Samuel Beckett dedicated a new play, Catastrophe, to Václav Havel, then a political prisoner in Czechoslovakia, serving a four and a half year sentence for "subversive activities". He had been asked to write the play by the International Association for the Defence of Artists, who were organising a night of solidarity for the Czech playwright at the Avignon festival that summer. Although Beckett had never met Havel, he was concerned by the persecution of artists in eastern Europe and was horrified to hear that Havel had been forbidden to write in prison.

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Watch Beckett's 'Catastophe' with Harold Pinter and John Gielgud on YouTube :



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