VLADAMIR: What are we doing here, that is the question. And we are blessed in this, that we happen to know the answer. Yes, in this immense confusion one thing alone is clear. We are waiting for Laundry to come—
The D-Train and myself staged an extremely surreal reading of Samuel Beckett’s most famous work Waiting for Godot at a Brooklyn laundromat earlier this week. Ostensibly we just wanted to kill two birds with one well-aimed stone: cleaning clothes and finishing library books. (Incidentally I was fined a fortune by the BPL recently– did you know that the late fee for DVDs is $2 a day??) Yet I’m starting to think that laundry and Godot are perfect for one another. The text of the play has been interpreted in a million different ways– I’m not familiar enough with it to do a close reading. But I can spot some of the major themes: ennui, absurdity, endless repetition, the foolishness of hope, etc. Doesn’t a trip to the laundromat evoke these kinds of themes as well?
You lug your clothes out to the perpetually open laundry place, load the washer, make sure you have enough change to run the machine, watch the clothes go round and round, sit around blankly until it’s time to put the clothes into the dryer, wait around again until it’s time to fold ’em up, trudge back to the apartment with your burden. Repeat x infinity, every two weeks or so — a classic Sysiphusian task.
Beckett is perhaps the most prominent playwright in the so-called “Theatre of the Absurd”…but what’s *absurd* about cleaning your clothes? Well, the same thing that’s absurd about life i.e. it’s meaningless. You need clean clothes this week, sure, but you’ll need them again in another two. The absurdity is how important you believe this need to be, against the background of nothingness.