Players open Beckett’s treasure "chess’ |

Players open Beckett’s treasure "chess’

Kimberly Nicoletti

DILLON – When the end is near, how do players maneuver to avoid checkmate?

“Endgame” is the story of four characters who depend on – and use – each other for their own survival. Each character has limitations, like pieces in a chess game.

“It’s about four people’s relationship to one another at the end, whether that’s the end of life, that time period, the present or the game,” director Jean Williams said.

“We play with and against each other as in a game, through our words and intents,” said Diane Gadomski, whose character, Nell, represents an older generation. “It is a play on our own lives and the boxes we often put ourselves in.”

Hamm, the central character, is a bitter, blind man who depends on his surrogate son and parents for his existence.

“He’s kind of a king without a kingdom,” said Gary Ketzenbarger, who plays Hamm. “He’s extraordinarily literate, extremely controlling. He’s the master of ceremonies, and he’s obsessively concerned with being at the center of his universe, yet he has no authority in any true sense.”

His parents, Nell and Nagg, are trapped in the past. Nagg tells funny, old, romantic stories to keep his wife from sinking further into depression.

“It’s a story of the final years of a couple,” said Gordon Yates, who plays Nagg. “Somehow they have to move outside of a very confined life. They’re trying to find meaning in a world which seems devoid of hope.”

Hamm’s surrogate son, Clove, is like the knight, who maneuvers to protect his king.

“The big question is, will Clove leave and move out into the world?” Williams said. “Clove holds the potential for the future.”

“With all life’s tragedies, there are it’s comedies, and this show will also bring out that piece of life. It’s going to be fun and lively,” Gadomski said. “We wanted to give people in Summit County something to absorb and learn from, but it’s not all heavy.”

“The whole play revolves around repetitive situations that then spin off into new directions,” Ketzenbarger said. “It’s extremely theatrical. The plot development is more evocative, poetic.”

Irish playwright Samuel Beckett, known as one of the fathers of absurdist theater, wrote “Endgame” after a period of severe writer’s block. Ketzenbarger, who has a doctorate in theater, calls “Endgame” the central play of the 20th century.

Beckett writes about the human condition in a documentary, as well as a symbolic, manner Williams said.

“He demands that you think and process much of it on your own,” she said.

“The audience will be able to think and make their own decisions,” Gadomski said. “The characters in this show are who you imagine them to be. To Samuel Beckett, “no’ can mean many things, and his intent is often a mystery to be solved by the actors and discovered by the audience. This is not a show that has a definitive ending.”

Because “Endgame” is so thought provoking, discussions between the audience, cast and director will take place after each performance.

“I want the audience to feel free in questions, interpretations, thoughts and ideas,” Williams said. “This is one of those plays that can lend itself beautifully to that format.”

The discussions also will include a history on Beckett and explanations of the cast’s rehearsal process for “Endgame.” For example, to help the actors deepen into their characters, Williams asked them to bring six props and six words and present their character to the other actors.

“To reduce a character to six words and six props helped them to define who they were in a very short amount of time,” Williams said. Though the props won’t be visible to the audience, the actors may still wear one or two to connect with their character’s inner world.

Reservations are needed for the free, open rehearsal on May 28. Tickets for the performance, running June 6-22, are $15 for adults, $10 for children under 12. For reservations, call The Lake Dillon Theatre at (970) 513-9386.

Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 245 or by e-mail at


– When: 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 28, free, open rehearsal and discussion with Director Jean Williams. Performances begin at 7:30 p.m. June 6-22

– Where: Lake Dillon Theatre, Dillon

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