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Memories rewound for OTA founder
by MATTHEW NASH
Thirty-two years after his local debut, Richard Waites, 66, revisits a character that marked the unofficial first production for Olympic Theatre Arts.
From March 9-11, Waites plays the lead and only role in Samuel Beckett’s “Krapp’s Last Tape.” The tragic one-man play follows a 69-year-old man listening and reacting to a recording from 30 years ago. Every birthday he makes a new recording recapping the year after listening to a previous recording.
“Krapp’s Last Tape” is one of Samuel Beckett’s most personal works and first appeared on stage in 1958 at the height of the Absurdist Movement. Beckett, a playwright, poet and novelist, might be best known for his play “Waiting for Godot.”
“Beckett always intrigued me,” Waites said. “You had to do a little more analyzing with his work.”
He remembers hearing “Krapp’s Last Tape” in college and thinking, “I hope I don’t end up like this guy,” he said. Waites founded what would become OTA with a March performance of “Krapp’s Last Tape” in 1980 at the Old Dungeness Schoolhouse.
“I identified with Krapp some, but now I realize how much I didn’t get 32 years ago,” Waites said.
His first production stemmed from an idea for starting a theater, but he needed a vehicle with minimal costs. “Krapp’s Last Tape” came to his mind as a way to get the attention of the community. It did.
Waites said doing the play again is quite a challenge.
“The way Beckett writes is so precise,” he said. “His words don’t allow for improvisation or you to mess with anything.”
Production director Jim Guthrie said Beckett’s estate doesn’t allow any additions such as sound effects or alternate wording in order to protect the integrity of the play. To create their own slight variation, he and Waites often discuss tone and reactions to certain parts.
Guthrie has long wanted to be a part of a Beckett play because of his love for “Waiting for Godot.”
“Krapp is about having something in your life and losing it,” Guthrie said. “Godot is about waiting for something to happen and it doesn’t.”
This production serves as a feeler to see if the community would support more Second Stage productions.
Waites said OTA presents five main stage performances a year and to fit in alternative performances would take a lot of planning.
“We’re inviting people to a different cut of theater that gives people a different taste and doesn’t cost as much,” he said.
Waites left Sequim in 1989 for Seattle to act on professional stages such as the Seattle Repertory Theatre and ACT (A Contemporary Theatre). He returned in 2009.
“I don’t want people to be afraid to come,” Waites said. “It’s a story of a character’s life. Someone that people deal with everyday.”
Following each performance, Waites leads a question-and-answer session with the audience.
Reach Matthew Nash at email@example.com.