(Interview in the Telegraph by Daisy Bowie-Sell; Anna McMullan is a professor of Theatre at the University of Reading.)

Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot premiered as En attendant Godot at a small theatre on the Left Bank in Paris the Théâtre de Babylone, sixty years ago, on January 5 1953.

It has since become one of the most important and best known plays of the 20th and 21st century and has been performed countless times the world over. Samuel Beckett expert Anna McMullan answers some questions about the seminal work:

What are the standout productions of Waiting for Godot?

Obviously there's Roger Blin's first production in Paris. A number of French critics who watched it said: "We've never seen anything like this, this is not theatre as we know it."

Then of course the 24-year-old Peter Hall directed the English language premiere in 1955 just two years later at the Arts Theatre in London. The theatre critic Kenneth Tynan said it changed the rules of theatre.

British critics were initially more confused by it than the French, who had experienced a similar sort of existential drama. But then Tynan and a number of other significant critics began to write about the play. It's difficult to remember now, but nothing like it had been seen before. It began to change the way people thought about theatre.

Beckett's own production was important too. He directed it at the Schiller Theatre in Berlin in 1975. The production toured internationally and was described as a very balletic production. Beckett took extraordinary care over the costume and design. It's seen as a definitive version, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't reinterpret the play.

The relationship between the two characters Pozzo and Lucky can be very disturbing. It's an oppressive and dependent relationship which has lead to the play being interpreted in a number of situations of conflict throughout the world, such as South Africa and Sarajevo – the latter by Susan Sontag under the siege.


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