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Robert Wilson, Quartet

American Repertory Theatre

In director Robert Wilson’s theater works, the visual mise-en-scène and the music and/or text have always operated on two parallel tracks; each has demanded equal, split attention from the viewer. The general idea seems to have been inspired by Merce Cunningham’s separation of music and dance, and, in plays like I Was Sitting On My Patio . . . , 1977, the actual practice drew on the little-known plays of Gertrude Stein. Beginning with Hamletmachine, 1985, however, Wilson has collaborated with German playwright Heiner Müller, whose literary style more closely matches Wilson’s visual sensibility, one that combines refined abstraction with quirky representational particulars. In Quartet, a condensed adaptation of Les Liaisons dangereuses, Choderlos de Laclos’ 18th-century epistolary novel about innocence and evil in the war between the sexes, Müller’s text provided the first major verbal

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