Embracing the Madness – Maria Vacratsis on Endgame

Maria Vacratsis

Some plays are more open to interpretation than others and that creates opportunities in rehearsal that are both exciting and overwhelming. As a director, Daniel Brooks allows the actors room for exploration and always reminds you that in the discovery there are no right or wrong attempts. Of course, that sets the stage for some wildly interesting moments in the room but, as crazy or off the wall the idea might be, it can always yield a clue. All ideas are welcome and then decisions can be made.

Endgame has remained as fascinating as ever because thematically its scope is so broad but the way to interpret what’s on the page is wide open. We started off just combing through the script and settling on the indisputable facts of Beckett’s story and then set off to explore what might happen between the characters, as played by us – Joe, Diego, Eric and myself. One of the great discoveries was how domestic and familiar these relationships are, so having a long history together has been extraordinarily helpful. In just this season alone, we four actors have been working together since March and that becomes like a little marriage, so exploring the lengthy history of the characters’ lives together is partly extrapolating on what we know about each other already.

It’s too easy to get overly intellectual about Beckett and categorize and label his style but I find it unhelpful. Whatever the situation is, they are still human beings, living and breathing and the only way to find meaning is to, in my character Nell’s particular case, really explore what being married to Eric Peterson’s Nagg is like. Eric makes it easy – he is whip-smart, so honest and generously invites you into his creative world. He continuously offers up new ideas and that forces one to really listen – you never know what you’re going to get at any given moment so it keeps opening up every avenue. No stone is left unturned and that has, in turn, given us great insight and some of the weirdest, wrong and inappropriately hilarious moments – but it’s all good and sometimes you just need to laugh. And we do. A lot.

Maria Vacratsis and Eric Peterson

Maria Vacratsis and Eric Peterson in rehearsal. Photo: Nathan Kelly.

The challenge is to never get too comfortable or expect particular outcomes, and that’s exactly how I hope all who come to the theatre can view the play. We don’t know what’s always going to happen in life and I like to think we can try to create that on stage too. On any given day and at any given moment, Endgame can elicit a number of wildly different emotions for the actors and for anyone watching. I love working on it with this particular group of artists because that’s what they are like too – they impress me with their intelligence, awe me with their creativity, move me with their generosity, provoke me with their daring and then really make me laugh from my core with their humanity and their madness. Kind of like Beckett. Perfect.

Maria Vacratsis headshot by Sandy Nicholson

About Soulpepper Theatre Company

Soulpepper, one of Canada's largest urban theatres, is an artist-centred company that celebrates the stories that move us and the artists who tell them. Soulpepper presents vital Canadian interpretations of the classics, and commissions, translates, and develops new work, creating a home for a diverse array of artistic expression across disciplines.

One response to “Embracing the Madness – Maria Vacratsis on Endgame”

  1. David Schatzky says :

    Maria, I found your Nell touching and true. Her (your) tragic silent stare is eloquent and moving. An authentic, very natural response to Nagg’s infantile narcissism and (y)our fate. Thank you.

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