FAIRFIELD — Clinton Vidal has come to understand the waiting part of “Waiting for Godot.”
The production of Samuel Beckett’s play has dealt with delays, cast changes and the lack of a permanent rehearsal space. All the challenges should soon become history as the Bay Area Stage Productions’ show, which is directed by Vidal, opens Friday.
Vacaville resident Chuck Schilling plays Vladimir, the fourth man to hold that role. He and Vidal met when both studied theater at California State University, Sacramento. Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks was also in the drama department at the same time.
Unlike Hanks, Schilling stepped away from acting for almost three decades. He returned to the stage in 2011 in the Benicia Old Town Theatre Group’s production of “The Nerd” and followed it up with “What the Butler Saw.” Vidal directed “The Nerd.”
“It’s a very beautiful play,” Schilling said of “Waiting for Godot.” “The language is wonderful.”
Often referred to as the “play about nothing,” Schilling said the show is touching and relevant in the fact that Vladimir and Estragon, another main character, find a way to be inventive as they sit along a country road waiting for the arrival of someone named Godot.
Heavy on dialogue, the show is “almost a pure acting exercise,” Schilling said.
Schilling studied the work in college and didn’t care much for it then, he said. He’s come to appreciate it and considers it among his favorites.
“It’s really about the characters,” he said. “It becomes about the acting. I think that’s what Beckett had in mind.”
He joined the cast about a month ago. When Vidal asked him to tackle the role, he gave it some thought and decided he was up to the challenge.
“I’m doing it because it’s hard,” Schilling said.
It’s been a challenge for Vidal, too. He had four plays he was juggling as director – all were dependent on “Waiting for Godot” launching in April, as it was originally scheduled. The morning of opening night, the actor playing Vladimir dropped from the role.
“I’ve had more contact with this play than any other in the 80-plus, 90-plus plays I’ve worked with,” he said. “It keeps coming back to me.”
Jeff Lowe and Stacey Loew, of Bay Area Stage Productions, said what started as a two-and-a-half-month commitment became six months. Vidal, actors Kenn Stevens and James Adams have remained on board throughout the changes.
“Each man could have bailed when the production came to a screeching halt,” Loew said. “But they didn’t.”
Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.