Covid Conversations 5: Robert Wilson

Wilson, Robert and Shevtsova, Maria. 2022. Covid Conversations 5: Robert Wilson. New Theatre Quarterly, 38(1), pp. 1-26. ISSN 0266-464X [Article]

No full text available

Abstract or Description

World-renowned for having made a totally new kind of theatre, director-designer Robert Wilson first astonished international audiences in Paris in 1971 with Le Regard du sourd (Deafman Glance) and then with his twenty-four-hour Ouverture at the first edition of the Festival d’Automne in 1972. He also refers in this Conversation to Einstein on the Beach, premiered at the Avignon Festival in 1976, as another example among more of France offering him a home before he eventually founded the Watermill Center in 1992 on Long Island in the State of New York. Watermill, a laboratory for multidisciplinary creativity, opened its doors to the public in 2006 and is a focal point of the Conversation as a whole. Wilson’s immediately pre-Covid-pandemic production of The Messiah by Mozart was premiered at the Mozartwoche Salzburg in February 2020 and performed subsequently in Paris during a brief Covid ‘lull’ in September of that year. Discussion of this pivotal work leads to reflections on the opera productions that he had staged not so long before it, emphasizing the elements fundamental to his compositions – light, time, space, architecture, and silence. The Conversation, followed by audience questions addressed to Wilson, took place live online and on Facebook on 4 December 2020 as a prelude to the Festival Internacional Santiago a Mil in Chile, which opened on 3 January 2021. This was the Festival’s twenty-eighth year, but in a significantly restricted form due to Covid-19. A sequel to the Santiago interchange, also online but this time located in Paris, occurred on 17 September 2021. It resumes dialogue mainly on the Watermill Center’s broader cultural and social goals in the present and for the future, noting as well Wilson’s then current activities in Paris: a heavy schedule of four productions from the beginning of September to the end of December 2021, and a sound installation planned for 2022.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):


light, music, silence, Watermill Center, community, local, international, creative thinking, artefacts

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Theatre and Performance (TAP)


November 2021Accepted
3 February 2022Published Online
February 2022Published

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

09 May 2023 11:54

Last Modified:

09 May 2023 11:54

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


Edit Record Edit Record (login required)