The Writer and the Wrestler Meet Off-Broadway

(l. to r.) Samuel Beckett and Andre Roussimoff
(l. to r.) Samuel Beckett and Andre Roussimoff

By Helaine Feldman, ZEALnyc Contributing Writer, March 16, 2017

As unlikely, or even unbelievable, as it sounds, professional wrestler Andre the Giant and Nobel Laureate Samuel Beckett once spent a great deal of time together.

The story goes that when young Andre Roussimoff, whose nickname was Dede, was growing up in France and only 12 years old, he already was 6’3 and 208 lbs. and was too large to fit on the local school bus. Fortunately, playwright Samuel Beckett lived next door to the Roussimoffs in a cottage he built for himself with the help of Andre’s father Boris Roussimoff. When Beckett heard that Roussimoff was having trouble getting his son to school, he offered to drive Andre in his truck. And so, the unlikely duo formed a bond. In later years, when Andre spoke of his rides with Beckett, he said they rarely talked about anything but cricket, since Beckett had played cricket for Dublin University.

(l. – r.) Brendan Averett (as Andre the Giant) and Dave Sikula (as Samuel Beckett) in ‘Sam & Dede, or My Dinner With Andre
(l. – r.) Brendan Averett (as Andre the Giant) and Dave Sikula (as Samuel Beckett) in ‘Sam & Dede, or My Dinner With Andre The Giant’ at 59E59 Theaters

That relationship is the subject of a play, Sam & Dede, or My Dinner with Andre the Giant, having its East Coast premiere at 59E59 Theaters, 59 East 59th Street, between Park and Lexington Avenues. Written by Gino Dilorio and produced by the Custom Made Theatre Co., Inc. of San Francisco, the play runs through April 1—no fooling!

Andre the Giant (May 19, 1946-January 27, 1993) was a one-time World Wrestling Foundation World Heavyweight Champion, Tag Team Champion and the inaugural inductee into the World Wrestling Hall of Fame. His size—he eventually achieved the height of more than 7 ft. and weight of over 500 lbs.—was a result of gigantism, which resulted in acromegaly, a disorder resulting from excess growth hormone produced by the pituitary gland.

Samuel Beckett (April 13, 1906-December 22, 1989), was an Irish avant-garde novelist, playwright, theatre director and poet. Best known as the writer of the plays, Waiting for Godot and Endgame, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1969. Beckett was one of the key figures in what was known as “Theatre of the Absurd.”

For more information on Sam & Dede, or My Dinner With Andre the Giant click here.

Helaine Feldman is a Contributing Writer for ZEALnyc and writes about theater performance and related features.

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