The woke world went to war last week and their unlikely target was famed Irish playwright Samuel Beckett.
The fulcrum of last week’s claim was that women should have been allowed to audition for male parts in a production of Beckett’s most famous play, "Waiting for Godot."
Many critics were outraged at the attempt to rewrite a play’s instructions long after its creator is gone. They are right to be.
But somewhere Samuel Beckett is laughing. His plots are known to be absurd, his characters often bizarre. Vivian Mercier, the famed Irish Times critic, stated, “Godot is a play in which nothing happens twice” – meaning in both acts.
The Beckett absurdist play inspired a generation of playwrights. He is just one of four Irishmen to win the Nobel Prize for Literature (Yeats, Shaw, Heaney, and himself).
Given his sense of the absurd, Beckett would surely enjoy the current ridiculous controversy over "Waiting for Godot." But it is doubtful he would have come up with the scene that unfolded at the University of Groningen in Holland last week when his play was abandoned because no females were allowed to audition. The director resigned when the college, which was hosting the production in its arts theater, made clear women had to be included in the auditions.
But there seemed to be a perfectly simple rationale for only male casting as Beckett specifically identifies the characters as “five men.” In fact, he explicitly stated that his play should be performed by males when refusing a petition some years back to allow a woman to play one of the roles. His estate continues the policy and owns the copyright until 2059.
Retroactively allowing dramatic changes to a script against the author’s wishes is a recipe for disaster. In the Shakespearian age, men acted the women’s parts, but that long ago ceased because it was seen as absurd.
That was not good enough for the university, which claimed that times have changed and that the idea that “only men are suitable for this role is outdated and even discriminatory," a university spokesperson said.
"We as a university stand for an open, inclusive community where it is not appropriate to exclude others, on any basis."
What an idiotic statement. Should a woman be allowed to audition to portray, say, John F. Kennedy, and a man seek the role of Marilyn Monroe in a future biopic? Alas, there are many who would consider such a scenario.
When it comes to gender issues, I am drawn to the example of my wife’s toddler cousin Emmett who plays with monster trucks all day while his girl cousin Finola plays with dolls. It is nature as well as nurture. And kids who break that mold should be just as loved.
But the wokemeisters show no signs of listening to reality, that genders are fluid only to a point, that a man will never birth a baby or menstruate, and a woman will never have a pair of testicles.
*This column first appeared in the February 8 edition of the weekly Irish Voice newspaper, sister publication to IrishCentral.