The world premiere of Waiting for Godot, directed by Roger Blin, took place on 5 January 1953 at the 233-seat Théâtre de Babylone in Paris. James Knowlson describes the reaction to the premiere in Damned to Fame (pages 349-350):
Reactions to the first performances were very mixed. Josette Hayden remembered how at first numbers dropped off after the first night and how they felt they needed to drum up support for it among their friends. Josette and Henri went out to dinner with Sam and Suzanne to celebrate the thirtieth performance, but even then they did not foresee the extent of the success, which was gathering momentum. Most of the reviews were good and the play gained distinguished admirers, among them Jean Anouilh, Armand Salacrou, Jacques Audiberti, and Alain Robbe-Grillet. But its success was assured when it became controversial, for it surprised and shocked many conventional theatergoers. Beckett was told about an incident when the curtain had to be brought down after Lucky’s monologue as twenty well-dressed, but disgruntled spectators whistled and hooted derisively. During a stormy intermission, the most irate protestors came to blows with the play’s supporters, then trooped back into the theater only to stomp noisily out again as the second act opened with the same two characters still waiting for Godot as they had been at the beginning of act one. Rumor had it that the entire episode had been organized by the theater as a publicity stunt, but it was perfectly genuine. As Godot became the talk of theatrical Paris, the character of the audiences changed and it became the play that everyone simply had to see. People were regularly being turned away at the door, and new box-office records were set for the tiny Théâtre de Babylone.