Waiting for Godot was part of an aesthetic shift toward modernism during the middle of the 20th century that shaped all contemporary art that followed, including drama. In a 1999 article in The Guardian, Michael Billington wrote, “After Godot, nothing was quite the same again… Beckett’s play was part of a wider cultural movement in which art was increasingly defined by thrift, spareness and a shift towards the completion of the experience by the viewer, listener or reader.”
Beckett had studied as a poet and a novelist, so he wrote a play outside the structure of traditional drama and its sometimes formulaic storyline of beginning-middle-end. He stripped away the specifics of plot, development, character and location leaving details undefined. He asked individuals in the audience to participate, bringing their own point of view in to round out the experience and derive meaning from the play.
Beckett scholar Ruby Cohn wrote, “After Godot, plots could be minimal; exposition expendable; characters contradictory; settings unlocalised and dialogue unpredictable.” He inspired artists of all kind to rethink the necessities of their traditions. Playwrights Harold Pinter, Tom Stoppard, Athol Fugard, Edward Albee and Sam Shepard are just a few whose works owe a stylistic and structural debt to Beckett and Waiting for Godot, which remains one of the most recognized and regarded titles in all of dramatic literature.