MCLA Presents! Premieres Two Days of Beckett for North Adams


NORTH ADAMS, MASS. - MCLA Presents! will host two days of celebration in honor of the playwright Samuel Beckett through both film and theater. Sunday, Feb. 27, is the screening of director Chris McElreon's version of the Beckett play "Waiting for Godot" followed by a discussion, "Art as  Catalyst of Change" with the actors and McElreon. The following night, Monday, Feb. 28, is the live theatrical performance by renowned actor T. Ryder Smith of another Beckett play: "Krapp's Last Tapes."

The first night of Beckett is set for Sunday, Feb. 27 at 3:00 p.m. at Gallery 51 on Main Street in North Adams; MCLA Presents! will screen the film capturing McElreon's adaption of the original "Waiting for Godot."  The documentary of "Waiting for Godot" interpretation is set in post-Hurricane Katrina, following the journey of two stranded now-homeless men who await some kind of help.

 "I simply wanted to make the play feel immediate and socially relevant," said McElreon on the mission of his documentary.

McElreon's film version of "Waiting for Godot" highlights the devastating realities of many victims after Hurricane Katrina, where waiting for help seemed futile. Hurricane Katrina opened the eyes of the American people to the ugly truths and flaws about the federal government; sometimes help is not on the way. The levees breaking was not the only catalyst in what would become years of trying to rebuild after so much misery; the lack of assistance left thousands of people stranded waiting for a miracle that would never arrive.

After the screening, MCLA Presents! will facilitate "Art as a Catalyst for Change", a formal discussion between several prominent figures in the arts, including director McElreon and "Waiting for Godot" actor J. Kyle Manzay of the original post-Katrina interpretation. Included in the discussion will also be MCLA faculty and Berkshire Cultural Research Center patrons.

MCLA Presents! highlight of playwright Beckett will continue into the next night Monday, Feb. 28, at 7:30 p.m., in Church Street Center for T. Ryder Smith in Beckett's "Krapp's Last Tapes." Smith portrays a nearly blind and deaf man living in solitary as he drinks his last days away, listening to old tape recordings of his own ramblings. Throughout the play, Smith's character reminds the audience of the raw actualities of dealing with ones' own demons. Well-renowned actor Smith makes his North Adams premiere, but is known throughout the world as he has received multiple awards for his dramatic roles, recently including "Living in Exile" in New York City, as well having roles on "Law and Order SVU" and "Nurse Jackie". He has also lent his voice to the Criterion Collection DVDs and the Adult Swim cartoon "The Venture Bros."

The New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) is partially funding the Beckett performances, which is made possible by funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.

General admission is $12, MCLA alumni is $8, staff and faculty is $5, and members and students are free. Ryder Smith's presentation of "Krapp's Last Tapes" on Sunday is free for general admission, but people are encouraged to reserve tickets which can be done by calling MCLA Presents! at (413)662-5204.