PRINT February 1990


Robert Wilson's Orlando

Nineteen eighty-nine was a strange and densely packed year. At its end, History acted out a scenario bizarrely symmetrical to the one designed by Robert Wilson, in collaboration with Darryl Pinckney, for his interpretation of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando. The production had its world premiere in November at the small but sumptuous Schaubühne theater in West Berlin. Outside the theater, the Berlin Wall, shocking signifier of separation and prohibition since 1961, was replaced by a festival of reconciliation both euphoric and anxious. Inside, Wilson’s rigorously dualistic stage design congealed in another kind of reconciliation, one perhaps not intended by Woolf in her delightfully humorous interrogation of the possibility of the coexistence of male and female identity in the same body.

The history of the character in question is well-known, thanks in part to an intense twenty-year period of

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