About the Project
When artist Paul Chan visited New Orleans for the first time in November 2006—a little more than a year after Hurricane Katrina—he was struck by the disquieting stillness: no hammer sounds banging in the distance, no construction crews yelling to one another, no cranes visible on the skyline. His immediate response to the city was to imagine an outdoor performance of Samuel Beckett’s legendary play, Waiting for Godot. Chan explained, “There is a terrible symmetry between the reality of New Orleans post-Katrina and the essence of this play, which expresses in stark eloquence the cruel and funny things people do while they wait for help, for food, for tomorrow.”
Chan’s production was comprised of four site-specific outdoor performances in two New Orleans neighborhoods—one in the middle of an intersection in the Lower Ninth Ward and the other in the front yard of an abandoned house in Gentilly. The project further evolved into a larger social production involving free art seminars, educational programs, theater workshops, and conversations with the community.
Photograph by Paul Chan
Waiting for Godot in New Orleans