Robert Wilson, The mask as a whole stage

"Inspiration can come from anywhere, anything"

By Nota Tsekoura, on 07th Nov, 2013 17:39

INTERVIEW: Mirto Xenaki, Nota Tsekoura

Robert Wilson (born October 4, 1941) is an American experimental theater stage director and playwright who has been described by the media as "[America]'s – or even the world's – foremost avant-garde 'theater artist'".

- In your work you are usually use colors that are deep, clear, calm, warm or cold. The faces are white and sad. The moves are smooth. The scenes are minimal. The lights are bright and strong. You love the opera and the ancient tragedies, which are deep related. How all these are connected and how difficult or easy are to combine the old with the new creating a new type of operas and tragedies?

Robert Wilson: For instance the white faces represent the masks of the tragedies. The image on the stage and that image they be different from text so then I see the picture on the stage and then I hear it. Not only is just a base mask, is the whole stage.

- Because of your love to tragedies and operas do you have any personal “hero”? Or anyone that you admire?

Robert Wilson: I admire a lot of people. Did you see the Odyssey? It was a wonderful woman in the play, Lydia [Koniordou]. Wodnderfull actress, I find her deeply moving. Also I worked number of times with Jessye Norman, the American singer. Jessey can just stand there the afro-american been. And through touching is a very deep emotional.

-As we know you have studied architecture at the Pratt University among your other studies. Where does architecture stand in your productions and how does it relate with the movement, language, dance, light etc.?

Robert Wilson: To me all is architecture. So it is like I going to school. I liked Mies Van der Rohe. I still do. I love classical architecture. So my work is classic. I wonder if movement on stage with pattern is truly organised in mathematical way, which is the stage set. I never think of the decoration for a play but architecture in structure on time and space.

-You are an artist that your works take on multiple forms you are director, painter, lighting designer, chorographer, sculptor etc. Also you have collaborated with other artists like Philip Glass and Tom Waits. Where do you drawn you inspiration from at the beginning of each project and how do you proceeded it?

Robert Wilson: Inspiration can come from anywhere, anything. It can come from a dream that you have in the middle of the night. It can come from looking at the front page of a newspaper in the morning. It can come from looking out of window. Something someone says, “ the world is a library”.

-I went to your portrait exhibition here. With these slightly moves and the background music of each portrait they calm me down and I thought I had a really nice conversation with them. How important is for you the connection between your work and the spectator?

Robert Wilson: Did you go?


Robert Wilson: Which one do you like best?

-This is a difficult question. I suppose the lady with the very long lashes. She moves her lashes slowly and I felt her feelings. I felt like she was talking to me and I felt like a light breeze blowing me. So how important is for you the connection between your work and the spectator?

Robert Wilson: You make a work for the public. You ‘re always aware to the public is going to be looking at it. That ’s why we make works, for the public.

-Thinking of music as a language itself and your relationship with words, how do they contribute towards to a non traditional theatre?

Robert Wilson: I think it is all music. I hear the bar in the background, I hear someone move the chair and the sound that having in time and space. So it is all a part of an overall construction. In a sense that way it is all music.

-Could you name the most inspiring moment in your life?

Robert Wilson: In 1993 I won the Golden Lion for the Sculpture in Venice Biennale and it was a total surprise. I had no any idea.

-You work is exhibited and played worldwide. So, you are traveling very often. Do you have any favorite place in the world and how often do you visit it?

Robert Wilson: No, it ‘s where I am. If I am in Athens, it is Athens. Tomorrow I am in Toronto, so it is Toronto. I like to be around.