New York

Richard Foreman, Symphony of Rats

The Performing Garage

“Don’t have a mind, BE mind,” says one of the video robots in Symphony of Rats, 1988, Richard Foreman’s latest Ontological-Hysteric Theater performance piece, a co-production with the Wooster Group. Foreman’s theater has consistently embodied a manic, probing mental condition, not merely reproduced attitudes and/or statements about it. His goal has been to create a vertiginous, multisensory event in which the operations of thought are the actual subject of drama. Further, he wants to instill that particular mental condition in the viewer’s mind.

In Symphony of Rats, however, Foreman, who wrote and directed the piece and designed both sound and visuals for it, came closer than ever to making a play “about” something other than its own processes: in this case a very Nixonian president having a mental crisis, played by Ron Vawter. His thinning, combed-back hair; lawyerlike blue pinstriped

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