Learning design for A-level students: Waiting for Godot, by Samuel BeckettIntroductionWaiting for Godot is said to be a play where nothing happens, twice. This statement is central tothe ideas about ‘the human condition’, that run through the whole play; it’s about how peoplelead their lives, and how meaningless life can seem, because nothing of importance happens. Itdoesn’t sound very cheerful, but Beckett very often turns gloom into humour in a very Irish wayin the play; you’ll be able to see for yourself later. In the first activity you’re going to get theopportunity to learn more about the ideas of ‘the human condition’ that the play is about; theseideas are part of Existentialism, a term that those of you studying Philosophy have probablycome across before. Beckett lived in France most of his life, so he was influenced by Frenchthinking, and Existentialism was a very popular philosophy in the 1950s, when Beckett wrote theplay; Jean-Paul Sartre, who lived at the same time as Beckett, was the French philosopher who ismost closely linked to Existentialism.Activity task 1You’re now going to find out more about Existentialism; as the term suggests, it’s aboutexistence. Please watch a short clip from YouTube, in which two girls will give you a better ideawhat Existentialism is about. Don’t be surprised that it’s not a lecture.Press CTRL and click on this link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FsE62QprCTc to find theclip. Work through the following tasks. I’ll check how you’re doing, and help if I see you’restruggling. Please let me know if you have any questions. I will comment in your blogs if I wantyou to clarify or tell us more about something. Feel free to help each other by doing the samewithin the group. a) Watch the clip a few times. Write down some random words and expressions that you think are important to understand Existentialism. Press CTRL and click on the link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FsE62QprCTc
b) Write at least four of your words or expressions into the course wiki. c) Compare your own choices with what others in the group have written. d) Add comments on what others have written that you think are particularly good choices. e) Copy and paste to your own blog. Call your post ‘Existentialism’. f) Use the words in your blogpost to write a short description of Existentialism. You should go back to your description later, to check on aspects of Existentialism in the play. g) If you have time, please look at other blogs and make polite comments. h) Think about the difference between ‘existing’ and ‘living’. Add your comments to your blog post called ‘Existentialism’.In the course wiki I will write a summary of your contributions and comment on what you havewritten in your blogs. Pleaseread my comments. Revise yourown blog if you think you should add or change something that you have already written.Extension tasks: On YouTube you can find several short lectures about Existentialism. Watchone or two of them to know more about Sartre’s philosophy, search on ‘Existentialism’ and‘Sartre’ on YouTube; you will find several clips to choose from. Make notes and add them toyour blog.If you have a particular interest in Philosophy you may want to find out more by reading aboutKirkegaard, a Danish philosopher who lived in the 19th century, and who influenced Sartre.Go to the next task.Activity task 2You should now have learnt more about the philosophy in the play. Let’s now to turn to the playitself.
Watch a clip from YouTube of the opening of the play. You should watch the clip several times.First, please browse through the points below, so that you know what to look for when you’rewatching the clip. a) The setting. What words would you use to describe the landscape? How would you describe Vladimir and Gogo’s perception of time and place? Remember that Vladimir says that conversations will help to ‘pass the time’. Write your notes in a blogpost called ‘Opening of Act 1’ in your blog.Please press CTRL and click on the link to watch the opening of the play.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoC9Kx5QvK0 b) The characters. Describe how they are dressed. What can you tell about them from how they are dressed? Describe the relationship between Vladimir and Gogo. Add your notes to your blogpost called ‘Opening of Act 1’ in your blog.Please press CTRL and click on the link to watch the opening of the play.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoC9Kx5QvK0 c) The language. ‘Nothing to be done’ is a key phrase in the play, and it is repeated several times in this short clip. When would you use that phrase? Why are Vladimir and Gogo using it so often do you think? How does it relate to their waiting for Godot? How does it relate to what you know about Existentialism? Add your notes to your blogpost called ‘Opening of Act 1’ in your blog. Please press CTRL and click on the link to watch the opening of the play. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoC9Kx5QvK0 d) Check what others have written in their blogs. Make polite and relevant comments on at least three of them.
Move to the next taskActivity task 3As this is a play, it is meant to be watched, not read. For this task you should focus on what yousee rather than what you hear, therefore you should now watch the same clip with the soundturned off and add comments to your blogpost about the opening of the play. e) How does the lack of sound add to your observations about setting, time, and the characters; pay particular attention to how the pair seem to behave towards each other; you’ll find a lot of clues in their body language. f) How does the silence affect your perception of pace in the play? g) Who seems to be doing most of the talking, Vladimir or Gogo? How does that add to your understanding of their relationship? Here’s the link again to the clip. Remember to press CTRL and click on the link. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoC9Kx5QvK0Add your comments to your blogpost, where you have already written a lot about the opening ofthe play. Make sure to say that you added your comments after watching the clip without sound.Move to the last task.Activity task 4In the last task of this activity you’ll be working together in smaller groups and write a wikitogether about the opening of the play. Use what you have written in your blogs.You must include comments about all the points you have covered in the tasks so far. You mustalso agree on what you include in your group wiki.Make sure you write in full sentences, meaning in narrative form.Write at least 300 words.When you have finished your own wiki, read those of the other groups.