Between 1992 And 2001, In St. Louis And Chicago, Excaliber Shakespeare Company of Chicago Founder Darryl Maximilian Robinson Performed In And Directed A Trio of Revivals of the Great Irish Playwright Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot, And In The Process, Winning A 1998 WKKC Radio Critic's Corner Fine Arts Award for Outstanding Director of A Play for His 1997 Staging of The Work at The Windy City's Heartland Cafe Studio Theatre With A Multiracial Cast! Edit
"At the Harrison Street Galleries Studio Theatre, 208 W. Harrison Street, the multicultural Excaliber Shakespeare Company of Chicago is currently putting on "Waiting for Godot," an existential dramatic and comedic piece by Samuel Beckett. And seeing Godot is worth waiting for. The play features Darryl Maximilian Robinson, founder and artistic director as Vladimir, Tom Carlson as Estragon, John Martin Keenan as Pozzo and Bruno Bafia as Lucky. Both Carlson and Robinson shine in their roles, playing off one another with challenging dialogue of over two hours in length. What is needed to keep the audience engaged are lots of changes in sppech - including sounds, dialects and points of emphasis - and both Carlson and Robinson are successful in their efforts." -- D. Kevin McNeir, The Austin Weekly News ( Chicago ), Dec. 13, 2001.
"If one has to wait over two-and-a-half hours for someone who never arrives, it's hard to think of more engaing company than Darryl Maximilian Robinson. The versatile actor and director has cast himself as Vladimir in Excaliber Shakespeare Company of Chicago's intriguing production of Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot"." -- Myrna Petlicki, The Pioneer Press Oak Leaves, Nov. 21, 2001.
"We never learn much about this pair of funny, sad vagrants. DiDi, the more hopeful and confident of the duo, seems to be a dandy fallen on hard times. With impeccable timing, Robinson incorporates everyone from Looney Tunes cartoon characters to Marlon Brando's Vito Corleone into his performance. With eyes dancing gleefully one moment, he shifts fromn shtick to pathos - complete with tears streaking his cheek - in a split second. His bits of inventive comic business punctuate even the dullest of line to "sell" them to the audience." -- Doug Deuchler, The Wednesday Journal of Oak Park, Nov. 21, 2001.
"If one must see that old groundbreaker of Theatre of the Absurd - Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot" - you couldn't do better that Shakespeare Excaliber Company's superb production currently mounted in the tiny Heartland Cafe Studio. The cast exceeds expectations in this existential tragic-comedy, which has been called everything from a comic masterpiece to a depressing, tragic play that is terribly difficult to sit through. Designer / Director Darryl Maximilian Robinson is brilliant in the role of Vladimir. His vocal power and range are reminiscent of Paul Robeson, and his chameleonlike variety of facial expressions, sinuous body language, bold stance and total charisma are captivating." -- Beverly Friend, The Chicago Skyline, June 19, 1997.
"For much of its three-hour span, Darryl Maximilian Robinson's revival digs deep into a great play's fusion of gallow's humor and genuine despair." Lawrence Bommer, The Chicago Reader, June 5, 1997.
NOTHING TO BE DONE!Excaliber Shakespeare Company of Chicago and Excaliber Productions, Ltd. in St. Louis Founder, Artistic Director, Producer and Principal Actor Darryl Maximilian Robinson considers Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godotone of the finest pieces of drama written for the stage. He also considers it one of the most difficult stage plays to act in or to direct. It is also, however, an economically easy play to promote and produce due to its long and illustrious history as a groundbreaking work in The Theatre of the Absurd and a classic piece of World Literature. It therefore, due to its small cast and managable technical requirements, and not entirely defined characters ( the characters and direction ofGodot are truly what the performers and director choose to make them! ), became a piece members of the multiracial chamber theatre in both Chicago and St. Louis would embrace and perform with passion, commitment and skill. Mr. Robinson first mounted and played Vladimir in Godot in the Fall of 1992 at the historic Second Presbyterian Church in The Central West End of St. Louis, Missouri. In addition to Mr. Robinson as Vladimir, this Excaliber Productions, Ltd. revival featured Michael Alt as Estragon, Carey S. Means as Pozzo, Patrick B. Hensler as Lucky and Philip Alexis Watt as The Boy. J. L. Watt served as Production Stage Manager, Lighting Designer and Sound Technician and Visual Artist Todd Micheal Fichter created the Scenic Road Painting. In the Spring of 1997, Mr. Robinson returned to the Beckett Piece again! On this occasion Mr. Robinson directed, designed and played the role of Vladimir opposite Mark Poremba as Estragon, Kim Crawford as Pozzo and Chicago Theatre newcommer Shawn Lee Martin as Lucky and The Boy. The Excaliber Shakespeare Company of Chicago revival production was co-designed and co-produced by ESC dramaturg and noted Chicago playwright Jeff Helgeson in the intimate confines of The Heartland Cafe Studio Theatre of the Rogers Park neighborhood of The Windy City. The 1997 ESC revival received several fine notices, and early in the folowing year, on Feb. 14, 1998., broadcast live locally with Theatre Critic and Host Nathaniel Mclin on-the-air at 89. 3 FM., Darryl Maxmilian Robinson was named winner of a 1998 WKKC Radio Critic's Corner Fine Arts Award for Outstanding Director of A Play for the ESC's 1997 staging of Godot, and Shawn Lee Martin was named winner of a 1998 WKKC Radio Critic's Corner Fine Arts Award for Outstanding Debut Performance By An Actor In A Play for his portrayal of Lucky and The Boy. Mr. Robinson and Mr. Martin were both present to accept their honors and to discuss their work in the Beckett play on-the-air on that occasion. In the Late Fall of 2001, with plans to close and shutter The Excaliber Shakespeare Company of Chicago looming, Mr. Robinson returned toGodotfor a third and final staging of Beckett's work, this time at The Harrison Street Galleries Studio Theatre of Oak Park, IL. Mr. Robinson directed, designed, produced and played Vladimir opposite Tom Carlson as Estragon, John Martin Keenan as Pozzo and Bruno Bafia ( who also served as Production Stage Manager ) as Lucky and The Boy. The 2001 Excaliber Shakespeare Company of Chicago revival of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godotearned fine reviews and ( with its closing on Dec. 30, 2001 ) was the final public production staging of a play by the multiracial, non-Equity professional chamber theatre. Now, 27 years after he first directed the play in St. Louis, and 18 years after he last directed the piece in The Greater Chicagoland area, Darryl Maximilian Robinson still has fond memories and takes great pride in having staged Beckett's most acclaimed work, and he expresses his deep gratitude and thanks to the trio of talented casts and crews who joined him in the huge challenge and true journey that is Waiting for Godot!
"...Darryl Maximilian Robinson vividly demonstrates how astute direction, superior acting and a wonderful sense of irony and humor can transform an intellectual masterpiece into an effervescent and lively evening of theatre." -- Mike Spitz, Nightlines Theatre, June 4, 1997.
WAITING FOR GODOT, Excaliber Shakespeare Company of Chicago, at the Heartland Studio Theater. For much of its three-hour span, Darryl Maximilian Robinson's revival digs deep into a great play's fusion of gallows humor and genuine despair. But sometimes this production overstates the crisis, as in Vladimir's belabored final breakdown.
Beckett's two tramps are unforgettable prisoners of habit and victims of memory; loudly desperate to prove they were here, they also fear there's "nothing to be done." Robinson's Vladimir and Mark Poremba's Estragon are often worthy of Beckett, but Poremba's flat delivery can make Estragon's thickness more irritating than pathetic, and Robinson's grandiloquent Vladimir sometimes explodes into Robin Williams-style impersonations that seem more auditions than cries for help. (Bert Lahr, the most famous Vladimir, had only to imitate himself.) But the eloquence comes through: the play abounds with such minimalist gems as Vladimir's poignant "The air is full of our cries, but habit is a great deadener." Given the production's slow pace, few of these are lost, though a brisker tempo would have driven home the comedy.
Kim Crawford's pompous, privileged Pozzo is full of violent affectations in the first act but becomes more real in the second, when he's blinded into humility. Making a very impressive Chicago debut, Shawn Martin creates a winsome, Chaplinesque Lucky: his gracefully athletic delivery of the ill-named slave's monologue is acting verging on euphoria. --Lawrence Bommer
A GODOT DIRECTOR & PERFORMER ALUM'S UPDATE!:
Most recently, during an extended year-long visit to his original hometown of Chicago, Darryl Maximilian Robinson garnered attention for his well-received portrayal of the marvelous dual roles of Mr. William Cartwright, Your Chairman of The Music Hall Royale and The Mayor Thomas Sapsea of Cloisterham, England in skilled Director / Music Director Robert-Eric West's 2018 Saint Sebastian Players of Chicago Revival Production of Rupert Holmes' classic Tony Award-winning Best Musical Mystery Whodunit The Mystery of Edwin Droodpresented at the lovely, more than a century old St. Bonaventure Church in the West Lakeview neighborhood of The Windy City. Mr. Robinson's performance was critically-praised, documented earlier this year by Wikipedia, and in November of 2019: The Year of Chicago Theatre,captured for him a 2019 Chicago BroadwayWorld.com Regional Theatre Award Nomination for Best Performer In A Musical or Revue ( Resident Non-Equity ). The SSP Revival ofThe Mystery of Edwin Droodreceived a grand total of Seven 2019 Chicago BroadwayWorld.com Regional Theatre Award Nominations including: Best Performer In A Musical or Revue ( Resident Non-Equity ) for Sarah Myersfor her fine portrayal of Edwin Drood and Miss Alice Nutting; Best Direction of A Musical or Revue ( Resident Non-Equity ) for Robert-Eric West; Best Choreography ( Resident Non-Equity ) for Tamara Drew; Best Costume Design ( Resident Non-Equity ) for Sandra Leander;Best Set Design ( Resident Non-Equity )for Emil Zbella; and Best Ensemble of A Musical ( Resident Non-Equity ) for THE ENTIRE CAST! Those who love musical theatre performance in The Windy City that would like to honor and support the work of Mr. Robinson and his fellow nominees of Rupert Holmes' brilliant but seldom performed stage classic with their votes for this critically-praised Non-Equity professional theatre production may do so by visiting: BroadwayWorld.com Chicago Regional Theatre Awards Voting!
Note: The multiracial, non-Equity profesional chamber theatre The Excaliber Shakespeare Company of Chicago' 'is pleased, proud and honored to share and present this archival article in acknowlegement of' '2019: The Year of Chicago Theatre! This theatre article is also presented in appreciation of the fine and committed work of all of Excaliber Productions, Ltd. Company Members of St. Louis, Missouri and as part of The Excaliber Shakespeare Company Los Angeles Archival Project.