BECKETT (SAMUEL) Godot Typescript, photographs; with various letters theatrical content (small quantity)
Lot 194
BECKETT AND PETER SNOW. Papers of Peter Snow, designer of the first production of Waiting for Godot in English, directed by Peter Hall and opening at the Arts Theatre, London, on 3 August 1955
Sold for £2,500 (US$ 4,251) inc. premium
Lot Details
BECKETT AND PETER SNOW
Papers of Peter Snow, designer of the first production of Waiting for Godot in English, directed by Peter Hall and opening at the Arts Theatre, London, on 3 August 1955, comprising a black crayon and watercolour drawing of the set showing the tree and rushes on the mound in silhouette against a blue sky (signed "Peter Snow"), two pencil face studies in black crayon over pencil, one captioned "Peter Bull. Pozzo" the other uncaptioned (seemingly of Peter Woodthorpe as Estragon), a typed letter signed by Peter Hall to Snow, from the Arts Theatre on 23 May 1955 ("...Here is the script of 'Waiting for Godot', which I would definitely like you to design for an opening on 3rd August, if you are interested in doing it. I won't say anything about the play because it is one of those plays which is heartily liked or heartily disliked. I hope to hear from you..."), a mimeographed script of the play, inscribed "Peter Snow c/o Arts Theatre Great Newport St London W.C.2", marked up in ballpoint (as noted on the cover) "to conform with American version", a program for its continued run at the Criterion, a copy of the Faber edition and a set of four mounted photographs by Houston Rogers of Sloane Street of Peter Woodthorpe as Estragon, Timothy Bateson as Lucky, Peter Bull as Pozzo, and Estragon with Lucky by the tree (as reproduced on the dust-wrapper of the Faber first edition), signed in pencil by the photographer and with his studio stamp on the reverse of the mounts; together with letters to Snow, mostly from later in his career, by playwrights, designers, actors, dancers, film-producers and others, including Terence Rattigan ("...your letter... I assure you, in all truth and honesty, gave me more pleasure than any other that I've had about Ross -- and I've been blessed with quite a few. I was particularly thrilled by your observation that the play exists in its own right, irrespective of the real existence of Lawrence, as a study in anguish..."), Harold Pinter ("...I don't actually anticipate having another play in London for some time. It's got to be written first..."), Tony Harrison, Derek Jarman (who studied under Snow), George Devine, Peter Wright, John Piper, Peter Hall (further letters), Anton Dolan, Laurence Olivier, Vivien Leigh, David Putnam (despairing for the future of the film industry), Jonathan Miller (experiencing "a curious sense of extra-terrestrial weightlessness"), Judi Dench (series), and others; plus a quantity of programs, a copy of Beckett's From an Abandoned Work (Faber, 1958), an Anouilh play-script and other ephemera, some dust-staining, creasing, scuffing and other minor signs of wear, the Rogers photographs with display pin-holes, the set drawing 55 x 30 mm, the head studies of Pozzo and Estragon on leaves extracted from a spiral pad, 80 x 75 mm, the Rogers photographs overall 300 x 240 mm, c.1954-1995

Footnotes

  • DESIGNS FOR THE CELEBRATED 1955 PREMIERE OF 'WAITING FOR GODOT', Peter Snow being responsible for both the costumes and set of this landmark production of twentieth-century theatre. In the words of Michael Coveney, Snow 'occupied a unique position in the cultural life of Britain since the second world war, as a painter, theatre designer, teacher and interventionist. He was also a larger-than-life character, flamboyantly bohemian, a keen biker, a lover of "happenings" – already by the 50s a true child of the 60s – and a much loved and influential head of theatre design at the Slade School of Fine Art between 1967 and 1992. He designed the British premiere of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot, directed by Peter Hall at the Arts Theatre in 1955. The blasted tree demanded by Beckett stood upstage, behind a grim scrim which parted to reveal the tramps in baggy, pinstriped trousers, battered bowlers and dinner jackets – Snow also designed the costumes – skewered by fate in a bleak terrain of stones, a wooden box and an upturned dustbin' (Obituary, Guardian, 2 October 2008). In David Buckman's assessment, Snow was 'one of the most imaginative, unconventional, erudite and versatile British artists and designers of the past half-century' (Independent, 6 September 2008).
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