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ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7     Blesok no. 31 | volume VI | March-April, 2003



                     Peer-reviewed journal
Blesok no. 31March-April, 2003
Theatre Theory

“The Forest” as Archive

Robert Wilson and Interculturalism

p. 1
Bonnie Marranca

Natural Selection

     “One day i discovered the habits of a porcupine fish,” Charles Darwin recorded in his journal while traveling about the world on the Beagle. Gilgamesh's Mother relates his curious pleasures in a monologue that precedes Jean-Henri Fabre's lesson on the need for air. Darwin's theory of natural selection finds a playful theatrical allusion in this gathering in The Forest of texts and images that have no reason to be together, mating in the same production, wandering in and out of each others' realms. (Theatrical production is always reproduction.) A ballerina walks a lobster, the forest overwhelms a great hall. Even the moon comes down to earth. Words drift through centuries. All life forms cohabit effortlessly in the desert, the city, the forest, the mansion, under ancient or industrial skies. Adaptation is the cornerstone of natural selection.
     This theatre is one of fortunate hybrids. Here the origin of species is no longer an issue, genre courts possibility not principle. Animal and human metamorphose, and reptiles, birds, fish, people, and rocks settle into narrative. Words are a form of sedimentation. In this new theatrical enlightenment natural history shares the scene with human history, for an alternative view of culture. Aesthetics is a branch of natural science.
     The ecology of theatre: Wilson chooses texts and images from the collective ancestry to situate in multiple environments, then documents (stages) their adaptability. The seasons are sensational. His theatre has biological perspective. A production is an organism, its very joints called “knee plays.” Structure is a body of thought, nature and art inseparable.
     Lizard, warrior, sea creature, raven, a Renaissance man, a child called Berlin: the already there is imagined in extraordinary landscapes. Oh, wonderful kind of rapture. Not since surrealism has there been a new visual ethnography.


     Wilson treats history not as a body of fact but a landscape of experiences. An anthology of images, of texts: knowledge as database. A menu. Food for thought. (There is always a dinner table in the work.)
     His theatre does not make history, only its poetic other side, memory. He lingers in myth, the space between literature and history. Intuition is the way to his encyclopedia, and one must have the watchfulness of an angel in a library. In the great sweep of his search for images in the dreams of cultures, Wilson adds a new chronotope to theatre: the archival.
     (The interplay of history and

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