Monday, October 06, 2008

The Playgoer: Robert Wilson at USC:

On the evening before his production of Madama Butterfly returned to L.A. (at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion), Robert Wilson addressed an assembly of students, faculty and a few invited guests at the Bing Theatre on the USC campus.

In rumpled black jacket and trousers and soft black shoes (over a white shirt), the designer-director walked onto the stage and stood still, and in silence, for about five minutes – eliciting a few awkward giggles, but mostly a kind of hypnosis.

When he eventually spoke, which he did for almost two hours, he sometimes stopped, mid-sentence, and froze, for longer than the standard attention span usually tolerates – either to gather his thoughts, or to make a point about the standard, diminishing attention span.

TV and even theater, he noted, contain a rhythm of stop-start-stop-start. Quick bursts and cessations of energy. “No no no no no no,” he squealed in a falsetto, chiding, as though speaking to children.

Because each movement of music, each motion of gesture is connected to the preceding movement or motion. Animals understand this. They remember through their muscles. For this reason, he, explained, beginning actors must first learn how to stand on a stage in silence, and then how to walk across a stage, like a cat.

1:10 PM