Vladimir: Will night ever come?

Waiting for Godot


Samuel Beckett

Translation into English by Samuel Beckett


 San Quentin State Prison California USA 1987 - 1988




                                                     Vladimir - Donald "Twin" James
                                                     Estragon - Reginald "Happy" Wilson
                                                     Pozzo - Spoon Jackson
                                                     Lucky - James Bennet "J.B." Wells
                                                     The Boy - Danny K. Leffel
                                                     "Flautist" - Hampton L. Finney




Donald "Twin" James  

Vladimir is a guy who is after something. He´s searching for some type of freedom which, at the moment, he can´t find. He finds himself on the road with his best friend, and he´s still waiting. I feel a big connection to Vladimir and his situation, because, look where I´m at. Here You wait for a visit, you wait for a letter. You wait for the courts. It´s just like waiting for Godot. You got a boy, you got a carrier, you got a slave driver. You got me and Estragon and this tree and this little brick which Estragon sits on. And there we are, on this road, this mountaintop, wherever it´s at. We´re waiting on something and it´s never happening and we´re just having our own little frustrations, or there are arguments. Our little happines. It all happens in a day and an extra day. It´s pretty exciting; it´s pretty good.


Reginald "Happy" Wilson

The characters within this play are a reflection of me and the position I´m in. The pain and suffering Estragon goes through and feels for his friend, is like my pain and suffering. Estragon is tired of waiting for something that isn´t coming. I feel that way to. Being part of this project has taugh me to control my  anger. I want to pursue this acting work.


Spoon Jackson

Being in this play and growing into my part have enabled me to see the realness of the lines. Once in the flow, the lines just come naturally during everyday life. That´s when you feel the realness, because the truth in the play comes up while living. This truth is universal; tragedy and humor existing within the same moment, love and hate sharing the same space. Pozzo is a lonely man with a lot of physical, material, power who takes his self-worth from being mean and inhuman, treating people like animals.
As human beings, we all have one foot in light and one foot in darkness.



Dungeon: Poem by Spoon Jackson

To Jan Jonson


A star wasn´t
for we are
all stars
and have the same


Now the lights are
taken down
the cameras no longer
the reels no longer roll
the hands no longer come
together in sincere appreciation
the storm clouds
the rain have come and


What a thrill it was
to leave this place
this dungeon
and this time having
taken my body with
To have seen so many
real smiles in one
space at the same
like beautiful swans
flying south filling
the sky


But now the sun has set and
the moon has risen and
we are away from
this shared destiny
Now like young eagles
from the nest
we soar our differnt
No more joy of a
shining light


Yet we all know
we are a tributary
joined in our humaness to the
magnificent ocean
of universal love


You brought
a treasure
from across
the Atlantic
and planted
seed of hope and
love and realness
in this place
walled in
hate, suffering and


It was a dream
a reality that came
true and lasted only for
a moment


Yes, turn the lights
like a lasting eclipse


No more magic
No more realness
of Beckett
for us to share
Godot has come
and gone.


Spoon Jackson
july 25, 1988



James Bennett (J.B.) Wells

Born in Washington D.C., I live, in my heart, in San Francisco. I´m marred with a 6-year old daughter, and am a Vietnam veteran. Lucky is lucky because he has a job, a purpose in life. He´s not among the uneployed. Yet. "Godot" says something about the hopelessness of life, the horror of realizing you´re an individual and there´s actually no one in the universe remotely like you, and no certainty about who you are or what your true pupose is. It´s about life confronting the possibility of faith (Is there anything worth waiting for?).
This project is a tremendous opportunity. So many actors would love to have a chance to work with Jan and to have the contact with Sam we´ve had. My favorite quote: The mesaure of mental helth is the disposition to find good  everywhere. 

                                                                                                        - Ralph Waldo Emerson


Danny K. Leffel

The "Boy" who comes at the close of each act with a message from Godot that, "he won´t come this evening, but surely tomorrow." My size and personality fit the boy´s character, and being the spiritual person, it seems I´m bringing a message from God to keep our Faith, to "hang on through it all." This is my own message from God to myself, so I, too, carry this message to all of us.


Hampton L. Finney

I´ve been playing the flute since 1976. I studied at L.A. City College, Eubanks Music concervatory and at West L.A. City College. I was in several bands in Los Angeles area playing classical, gospel and a conciderable amount of jazz. I feel the music used in this production of "Waiting for Godot" expresses the feelings that the actors portraying. I´m very excited to be a part of this production and to have the opportunity to play this music.

Director´s Statement

Welcome! Thank you for  making it possible for the department to begin paying back and working to make victims of crimes whole again. One of our major goals is to protect the public, and programs such as this one help make inmates aware of the real impact of their criminal acts. It´s a big step forward when inmates realize that victims aren´t nameless, but, instead, are real people. Again, thank you . We hope you continue to be involved with us in carrying out our mission.
- James Rowland, Director Department of Correstions Sacramento Cal. USA

Wardens Statement

Welcome to San Quentin Drama Workshop´s production of Samuel Beckett´s "Waiting for Godot".
The performance you are about to see  is historic in a number of ways. The first West Coast production of "Waiting for Godot" was that of the San Francisco Actors Workshop. They performed the play, not only in San Francisco, but also for inmates at San Quentin in November, 1957. This performance was a tremendous success and the review that subsequently appeared in the San Quentin News has been quoted in many articles written about the play. This project brought director Jan Jonson to San Quentin to share his enormous knowledge of and love for thater in general, and for this play particular. Mr. Jonson´s friendship with Samuel Beckett, and Mr. Beckett´s continuous support of and interest in our production, bring a unique dimension to this performance. In addition, this performance allows us to invite members of the community to the prison to share in some of the good work being done here. We are proud of the many activities at San Quentin which allow inmates to discover and use their diverse talents and skills for the benefit of the larger community. Your donations allow our inmates to give back to those who have been the victims of crime. We will be distributing proceeds from this production to four Bay Area-based Victim-Witness centers for the purpose of augmenting or creating victim emergency funds. It is a rare event that combines history, quality artistic expression, inmate need and restitution to victims. We are most pleased that You can share such an event with us.

- Daniel B. Vasquez  Warden San Quentin State Prison


A.I.C. Statement

Arts in Corrections is a unit within the Department of Corrections whose mandate is to provide arts programming at all of the California State Prisons. All our teachers are professional artist. Throughout the state, Arts-in-Corrections offers classes to inmates in over 100 creative disciplines. Artswork crews create murals and sculptures for California Department of Corrections institutions and the surrounding communities. Inmate and professional music and theater groups perform for large inmate audiences. At San Quentin , in addition to our Drama Workshop, Arts, in Corrections offers classes in painting and drawing, jazz, rhythm and blues, percussion, poetry, animation and juggling. We thank you for the portion of your donation which will help us continue our work. The mastery of arts skills requires patience, self-disipline, and long-term commitment. These attributes are basic to an inmate´s ability to function responsibly upon release. The arts are also a natural vehicle for community/institution alliance and we welcome this chance to share our work with you.
                                                        - Jim Carlson  Artist/Facilitator San Quentin State Prison

William James Associaton

The William James Association´s Prison Arts Project is dedicated to providing high quality arts instruction to individuals incarcerated in social institutions, in the belief that participation in the artistic process significantly affects their view of themselves and the world around them. The Prison Arts Project began in 1977 through the vision and efforts of Eloise Smith and Vernon C. McKee. In 1980 with the help of then Assemblyman Henry Mello, the Prison Arts Project graduated from pilot stage to a permanent program within the Department of Corrections. The vast majority of prisoners will return to our communities. Therefore, it behooves each of us to be concerned about the environment in which they live, and the programs in which they participate while they are incarcerated.
                                      - Ellen Davidson  Executive Director The William James Association

Dear Audience

Since January I have , together with these five actors, lived and worked with this play. Through this work I have made new friends and I´ve seen the men grow into these characters. And through this, they have shown me new dimensions of what acting is. If dramatic art shall be true and real, one must as an actor work from his own true realness. Life and art must be the same thing. We have only been working with three things: the text, the bodies and the voices. Now you have come here, the audience, which is something very new for us. What I, and we, want to tell You is that this is a play which is very, very close to these people who are living here inside San Quentin in a confined environment, with an uncertain future, where maintaining human dignity is a constant struggle.

I am very proud and happy to have the opportunity to show you a piece of the realness told by Twin, Happy, Spoon J.B. and Danny
                                                                                                  - Director Jan Jonson


With Special Thanks To:

Samuel Beckett - Whose involvement gave full life to this project.

Jan Jonson - Whose vision, brilliance and dedication made the connection between this play and these men. 

The California Arts Council - For their ongoing support of Arts-in-Correction.

Ellen Davidson and the staff of the William James Association.

Education Department, San Quentin State Prison.

Senator Henry Mello - Who has been instrumental in the creation and continuance of Arts-in-Corrections.

The Staff of San Quentin State Prison - For their assistance even  though their workload was increased in unusual ways because of this project.

San Quentin Television Staff

Daniel B. Vasquez - Without his support this project would never have occurred.

Jeanette Bonnier - Without your friendship, commitment and generosity these meetings between us would not become a reality.

Directing, set designer, lights, costume, mask - Jan Jonson

Coordinating Committee, George Burrows, San Quentin Drama Workshop, Advisory Committee

Jim Carlson, Artist/Facilitator, San Quentin State Prison

Bill Cleveland, Manager, Arts-in Corrections

Denise Dull, Community Resources Manager, San Quentin State Prison

Judith Tannenbaum, Artist in Residence, San Quentin State Prison

Graphic Design, Carla Cleveland, Catherine Flanders

Lighting, Phoebus Company of San Francisco
Lighting Tech - David Pangaro
Consultant - Dirk Epperson

Photographs, Beppe Arvidsson, Jan Jonson
San Quentin State Prison, I. D. Department

Printing, San Quentin Vocational Printing Program

Stage Managers, Alice Smith, Del Thomson


Jim Andersen
Claude Finn
Bill Irwin
Fritha Knudsen
Sandi Menefee
Joseph Miksak
Susan Power
Barney Rosset
Jean-Pierre Soussigne
Lou Umbay









Happy and Twin


Group picture

Spoon Jackson























































© Copyright. Jan Jönson.