Every year, avant-garde theater director Robert Wilson heads to the Hamptons to work with a group of international artists at The Watermill Center, a performance laboratory he founded in 1992. Wilson staged his production of Ubu in addition to the dozens of art installations and performance art he curated this summer. The amphitheater presentation of Ubu was the highlight of the Watermill Center’s Annual Gala, but it almost didn’t happen due to a deluge of rain. 

 Robert Wilson and his ensemble cast of Ubu didn’t let the cloudburst stop the show. The US and international performers clad in costumes made entirely of newspaper took to the stage for a condensed version of the show narrated by Wilson himself. The cast of Ubu featured the ensemble cast of Yunseo Choi (Republic of Korea), Bonnie Comley (United States), Evelyn Dugan (United States), Cecilia Xuetong Feng (China), Marianna Kavallierator (Greece), Casilda Madrazo (Mexico), Katimari Niskala (Finland), Sorin Prodea (Romania), Anthony Roques (France), Agathe Vidal (France), Sienna Vila Holloway (Spain)

Robert Wilson’s “Ubu” restaging, inspired by Alfred Jarry’s 1896 classic, “Ubu Roi,” critiques war and totalitarianism. Originally presented at the Es Baluard Museum in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, “Ubu” is a surreal reflection of paradoxical inequalities throughout history and the modern day. The surreal play was almost upstaged by the surreal surroundings, with set and costumes constructed of newspapers in a 500-seat amphitheater. Wilson had projected dramatic red and blue lighting onto the giant trees in the 10-acre forest at The Watermill Center, blending the stage into the natural surroundings.  

The evening was a celebration of The Robert Wilson Watermill Center as a world-renowned interdisciplinary laboratory for the arts and humanities and its 30+ year association with performance. Aperol and Campari America and Wölffer Estate Vineyard provided refreshments, and additional support was provided by PFRANKMD by Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank and Prada.

Robert Wilson has a sixty-year career spanning theater, opera, art, and dance. His multi-hyphenate job titles are director, choreographer, performer, painter, sculptor, video artist, and sound designer, to name a few. Born in Texas, he moved to New York City to study and did shows on Broadway and Lincoln Center before heading to Europe. His list of honors and awards for excellence includes a Pulitzer Prize nomination, two Premio Ubu awards, the Golden Lion of the Venice Biennale, and an Olivier Award. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the German Academy of the Arts and holds 8 Honorary Doctorate degrees. France pronounced him Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters (2003) and Officer of the Legion of Honor) and Germany awarded him the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit.   

The UBU production credits are Text by Eli Troen, Robert Wilson, and Charles Chemin based on the play “UBU” by Alfred Jarry, created initially at the Es Baluard Museum, Palma, Spain are Robert Wilson (Direction, Set & Lighting Design), Charles Chemin (Co-Director), Marcello Lumaca (Associate Lighting Designer), Stephanie Engeln (Associate Set Designer), Flavio Pezzotti (Associate Set Designer), Flavia Ruggeri (Costumes), Joan Baixas & La Claca (Puppet Design, based on original designs by Joan Miró), Andreas Andreou (Assistant Director), Lyuba Todorova (Stage Manager), Chloé Bellemere (Set, Light, & Prop Assistant), Simon Cristian Petru (Set, Light, & Prop Assistant), Johan O.R. Sterner (Set, Light & Prop Assistant), Sienna Vila Holloway (Set, Light, & Prop Assistant), Afra Al Dhaheri (Production Assistant), Ava Locks (Production Assistant), Silver Roostik (Production Assistant), and Dovydas Strimaitis (Production Assistant). 

For more information about Robert Wilson and The Watermill Center, see WatermillCenter.org

Published by HOLR Magazine.