All-male play banned because only men were allowed to audition

Student theatre company GUTS will not be allowed to perform the play Waiting for Godot at Groningen cultural centre Usva. The reason is that the company only auditioned men for the play’s five male roles.

GUTS, which has been rehearsing for the play since November and was going to perform it in March, was informed of the decision last week. As far as Usva is concerned, auditioning only men is at odds with the university’s diversity policy. 


Waiting for Godot is a renowned absurdist play from the twentieth century, written by Irish writer, playwright, and poet, Samuel Beckett. The play involves the protagonists, two men, waiting for Godot, who never shows up. In the meantime, they have various existential discussions. Occasionally, they are joined by some other men.

Before his death, Beckett recorded a clause that stated that everyone performing the play should do so in strict accordance with his instructions. This not only applies to the staging of the play, but also to who is allowed in the cast. In this case, it’s only men.

Anyone disobeying this runs the risk of being sued by the foundation in charge of Beckett’s rights.


‘I only found out about the clause just before the pitch deadline, and there wasn’t much I could do about it’, says director Oisín Moyne.

In GUTS, the entire member group votes on the play the company will perform. ‘We weren’t happy with the foundation’s rules, but we did want to give people the opportunity to vote on the play. It’s an important and still relevant piece.’

The theatre association’s members voted in favour of putting on Waiting for Godot in spite of the strict clause. In November, there was a call for actors and crew to audition. And while the call for actors was for men only, the one for crew wasn’t.


The theatre company is especially frustrated that the play is being cancelled a month before it’s supposed to go on. According to Fay Sterken, chair of the Usva student board, the board only found out about the all-male audition two weeks ago.

‘We received the subsidy application, which prompted us to look into the project’, she says. That’s when the board found out that GUTS signed the ‘all-male clause’. ‘We were appalled. It goes against all our principles.’


Usva boss Bram Douwes fully supports the student board’s decision. ‘Obviously we have no say in the play itself, that’s none of our business’, he says.

‘If it concerned a play with five white guys that they’d held open auditions for, everything would have been fine. But you can’t ban people right from the start.’ That is at odds with the university’s inclusivity policy, says Douwes.

Cast and crew

‘In doing so, Usva says the cast is the most important part of the project’, says Medeea Anton, producer for the GUTS play. ‘But that’s not true. The crew are the ones that truly make this project work. They produce it, make the costumes, the sets. We have a crew of eighteen people. Most of them are part of the LGBTQ community, and not male.’ 

The play’s producers are working hard to find a new venue to perform in. ‘Our priority is to make sure that our team’s work wasn’t for nothing’, says director Moyne. ‘Since Usva used the inclusivity clause to ban us, I hope they’ll use the three days we were supposed to perform to organise something related to theatre and inclusivity.’



  1. Beckett shouting from the Writer’s Heaven:

    – “OK, you won, I will pay the beers.
    Your decision is more absurd than my piece…”

  2. I can’t wait to see ‘The Vagina Monologues’ starring Chuck Norris, Clint Estwood, Charles Bronson, Russell Crowe and Jackie Chan!

  3. Typical liberal vs conservative culture war nonsense.
    Food and heating prices are going through the roof, millions of greater injustices are carried out across the globe and this is what gets a reaction out of people.
    Reality is more absurd than this play.

  4. USVA: we cannot accept the lack of inclusivity
    also USVA: If it concerned a play with five white guys everything would have been fine!!!

    Dead at the lack of self awareness

  5. What a joke! They should instead perform this on the Grote Markt the same day they were to perform at Usva and rub it in Usva’s face!

  6. There really is no winning here in my opinion. Productions that defy the gender-casting rules that Beckett insisted on frequently get cancelled due to the threat of legal action (or just get sued out right). Now a production that grits its teeth and abides by the restriction (despite the fact that they would have preferred to make the casting call open to actors of any gender) gets cancelled by the theatre for discrimination.
    What does this achieve, exactly?

  7. and far-left academics keep pretending that woekism is not an issue in universities. It’s the equivalent of people calling feminism hysteria in the 1950s/60s… Just now we are ruled by far-left idiots. So obsessed with focussing on their own conspiracy that they cannot see that they have become a conspiratorial evil themselves.

  8. I have seen plenty of plays from in Irish theater where the actor was not of the gender of the character (most notable a male friend playing the sole role in a play called ‘ women on the verge of HRT’. And don’t get me started on pantomine. They idea that a amateur or small dramatic unit would be sued by the Beckett foundation is laughable – it is more likely that the characters should remain male. If a woman wants to dress up as an old man and be grumpy and complain for two hours then I really don’t see the issue. However, cancelling the play after all the efforts to prepare by the actors involved is also abusive in my book.

    • Plays done by similar organisations often get sued by the Beckett foundation. It was more than likely that this would also happen to this production. GUTS often casts ‘genderbent’ actors and even encourages everyone to audition regardless of gender. However, for this production this would have lead to huge fees.

  9. I’m not white, not even a male but offended by this act! My humanistic and logical values are offended. Even my inner child is offended.
    Please stop this nonsense!

  10. Why just cancel the play? Why not expel the producers outright? In fact why not burn all of Beckett’s work? The horror of existing in a world where a psychological drama with five male characters exists must be unbearable.

  11. What a pile of bulls***.
    Oh no! five WHITE MALES playing five white male characters in the theater, the horror!
    It if was a female only piece they will be lauded like heroes.

    Additionally, why the hell the inclusion of ‘white’ too? did you see the country you are in? would you complain in Zimbabwe if they asked for five black actors?


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