eeling shaky on your knowlege of the world’s lead- ing directors? Fear not! The List bails you out with the essential bluffer’s guide to Peter Stein, Peter Sellars, Robert Lepage and Robert Wilson, all of whom feature in this year’s International Festival programme.
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Name: ROBERT WILSON
Place of birth: Waco. Texas.
So is he into weird cults? Probably not.
Career to date: Wilson trained as a painter and architect: his drawings. sculpture and furniture are shown in major exhibitions to this day. The other key inﬂuence on his theatrical style is his work with brain-damaged children. whose way of perceiving the world is reflected in the slow pace. repetitive movement and rigid formalisation of his shows. His first productions were impromptu events in late-60s New York. developing in the 70s into productions of an operatic scale. with big sets and complex lighting. He dispenses. however. with plot and character in favour of streams of visual and aural images or ‘dream-like innerstates'. Most of his work in the 1980s was in Europe and recently he has concentrated on new classical operas and plays.
Key productions: He collaborated with autistic adolescent Christopher Knowles on A Letter to Queen Victoria (1974) and Einstein on the Beach (1976) also with David Glass. His trademark slow pace was evident even in the early wordless piece. Deafman Glance (1970). which lasted eight hours. expanding over the years until 1985 when the prologue alone had developed into a full-length show. European work includes the CIVIL warS (1983) seen in five countries and winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Drama and Death Destruction and Detroit at Berlin‘s Schaubuhne Theatre. Classical work includes The Magic Flute (1991) and When We Dead Awaken ( 1991 l.
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Name: PETER STEIN
Place oi birth: Germany.
Career to date: Making his directorial debut in 1967. Stein worked in Munich. Bremen and Zurich before establishing the Schaubuhne Company. Berlin. in 1970 where he was Artistic Director for ﬁfteen years. Long rehearsals and extensive research into the social context of the plays produced a string of politically provocative ensemble productions of deconstructed classics. In 1982 he supervised the company‘s transfer to ‘the ultimate adaptable theatre‘. at hangar full of high-tech machinery including 78 hydraulic platforms at a cost greater than the three auditoria of our own National Theatre put together. Yet within a decade. Stein got bored and moved on. although he still returns annually to direct. He is director of theatre at the Salzberg Festival and has started to direct opera.
Key productions: After Edward Bond‘s Saved in 1967. Stein went on to direct plays by Aeschylus. Gorky and lbsen. His 1969 production of Weiss‘s Vietnam Discourse finished with a collection for the Viet Cong. An evening of ‘total theatre' spectacle. Shakespeare Memory in 1966. provided the background material for a stunning. chopped around As You Like It eleven years later which started off in a long narrow hall. moved through a creepy green labyrinth and ended up in a life-size forest with a real pond and field of wheat. His production of O‘Neill's The Hairy Ape was seen in London in 1987 and he directed Falstaﬂ, Orello and Pelle’as et Me’lisande for Welsh National Opera.
What is he bringing to Edinburgh? His 1992
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Startling irisual etiects in Dr. austus lights The Lights
(1990) was created with Tom Waits and William S. Burroughs. What is he bringing to Edinburgh? Archetypal bohemian avant— garde writer Gertrude Stein drew on both the Faust legend and the invention of the lightbulb for her 1938 drama Dr I~austus Lights the Lights. It gives Wilson the chance to play with light in a series ofstartling visual effects. Remarkably. the show isjust 90 minutes long.
What do the critics say about him? Peter Brook has said: ‘Wilson‘s theatrical experiments in the 70s showed how very slow. almost non-existent movement. how lack of motion that is inhabited in a particular way. can become irresistibly interesting. without the spectator understanding why.‘ Wilson himself compares it to watching television while listening to the radio; sound and vision may coincide. but it is the individual who makes connections. The effect is disturbing and disorientating rather than satirical or political.
Policy statement: ‘Contradiction is the basis for theatre.‘ Greatest Excess: His Overture to Ka Mountain for the 1972 Shiraz Festival in Iran had a cast of5() and lasted 268 hours. One of those hours consisted of a live turtle crossing from one side of the stage to the other.
200 extras In Julius Caesar Salzberg Festival outdoor production of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar is less politically radical than his earlier work. concentrating instead on detailed stage craft and striking spectacle. His Welsh National Opera production of Verdi's Falstaff. meanwhile. has been hailed for its hilarity and musical perception.
What do the critics say about him? Most would disagree with Stein‘s analysis of his own Sunmzerfolk in 1977: ‘We have made a production that is not hysterically funny. Ours is hysterically boring.‘
Policy statement: ‘At the Schaubuhne we are strong because we risk all.‘
production of Julius Caesar.
Claim to cult status: The music-theatre piece The Black Rider
10 The List l3—l9 August 1993
Greatest Excess: He is shipping in 200 extras for the Edinburgi)