Robert Wilson’s THE OLD WOMAN at BAM

THE OLD WOMAN was loosely based on the absurdist stories of Danil Kharms, an avant grade Bolshevik writer who survived a Soviet purge to retreat into safety of children literature.

His adult stories were short.


Because of her excessive curiosity, an old lady fell out of the window and smashed into the ground.
Another old lady looked out of the window, staring down at the one who was smashed, but out of her excessive curiosity she also fell out of the window and smashed into the ground.
Then the third old lady fell out of the window, then the fourth did, then the fifth.
When the sixth old lady fell out of the window, I got bored watching them and went to Maltsev market where, they say, someone gave a woven shawl to a blind.

Willem Dafoe repeats these lines to be echoed in English and Russian by the great ballet dancer Misha Baryshnikov.

Both men are dressed in black suits to be a mirror image of each other.

The play worked at straight angles to the curves of light-directed images reincarnating a pantheon of forgotten styles. The brilliant lighting telegraphed moods of yearning. The music sought our memories. The actors were silhouettes of dreams.

Willem was a good dancer. Misha was better, but only just.

The audience laughed at parts

I didn’t get it, but as Robert Wilson said, “If you know what it is, then what the point of doing it.”


I guess I am a simple man.

And that is no sin.

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