Pieces: The Afterlives of American Experimental Theater
Marc Robinson (Yale University)
In the ephemeral art of theater, experimental works–those pieces marked indelibly with their makers’ signature, dependent on the cadences of their original actors, rooted in the time and place of their first performance–seem especially doomed to obsolescence. This talk considers various efforts to counter, meliorate, or candidly acknowledge the perishability of avant-garde invention. Robinson focuses on American performance of the 1970s (an important transitional moment between the spontaneity of the 1960s and the more emphatic formalism of the 1980s and beyond), with special attention to two much-revived works from that decade–Dance (1979), the collaboration among Lucinda Childs, Sol LeWitt, and Philip Glass, and Einstein on the Beach (1976), the opera by Robert Wilson and Philip Glass.