The unsigned editorial from the evening’s program notes.
Over the last year or so, Los Angeles audiences have been rich in opportunities to experience the iconic and unique creative vision of Robert Wilson, one of the most revered directors in American contemporary theater.
The triumphant and long-awaited performances of Einstein on the Beach, Wilson’s seminal collaboration with Philip Glass and Lucinda Childs happened last October and were met with sold-out performances populated by engaged and enthusiastic crowds of audience goers that shattered known demographics of opera audiences. We were proud to partner with the LA Opera to bring this work to the Los Angeles stage. And we held on to Robert Wilson after the curtain fell on Einstein, bringing him to Royce Hall for John Cage’s Lecture on Nothing, a challenging piece performed by Wilson himself and which was met with awe and appreciation.
Over the last two seasons we have been committed to showcasing his exceptional artistry as one of the Center’s inaugural Artist Fellows and we’re proud to once again bring a Robert Wilson work to the Royce Hall stage with The Old Woman.
There’s been a great deal of excitement and buzz around this particular piece, thanks in part to the two incredible performers—Mikhail Baryshnikov and Willem Dafoe— who have collaborated so closely with Wilson to bring this unknown work of absurdist Russian literature to vivid life and thereby cementing Daniil Kharms, an often-forgotten writer of Russian absurdist literature into American theater canon. It is a work of passion that would not be possible without the complete creative investment of many artistic visionaries, those who you will witness on the Royce Hall stage tonight, and those behind the scenes.
Robert Wilson is a profoundly important theater maker. He also is a profoundly generous “permission giver” when it comes to artistic possibility. He creates a fertile and intricately crafted field of study that is unnatural and often bizarre. But in the bizarreness, in Wilson’s exactingly manufactured specifications of movement, sound, style and color, there is also a freedom—a freedom to explore the concept of absurdity, of perception, of reality and unreality.
The medium of theater, the ephemeral nature of the art form, lends itself to framing a safe space for us all to explore the unknowable, the gloriously unnatural. It is an invitation and an exclamation simultaneously. No one harnesses those sensibilities better than Robert Wilson.
We thank him for this work, we thank the performers and crew and staff who work tirelessly to build it for us, for just a moment in time.
We thank you for being here to share it.