Why must the show go on?
—Noël Coward

The elevator at the Sheraton Commander Hotel in Cambridge, Massachusetts seemed to be in some distress. It made a whirring, grinding noise when you pushed the button, like something threatening to take off: a low-pitched, driving beat that pulsed beneath an indeterminate hum.

The elevator wasn’t the only one in distress. Spending a lonely evening in a strange hotel in Boston for the purpose of attending a production of Samuel Beckett’s Endgame was not my idea of a Saturday night out on the town. Still, it was an interesting controversy that had taken me there. Beckett’s American publisher and theatrical agent had tried, on behalf of the playwright, to put a stop to the American Repertory Theater’s production of Endgame on the grounds that it was inconsistent with the playwright’s intentions as expressed in the...

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