In Berlin working on a production of Samuel Beckett’s Endgame (1957), Robert Wilson has not taken well to the U.S. election results.
“I am shocked,” he wrote in a statement submitted to the German press and shared with ARTnews. “Stunned. Worried about the likelihood of a catastrophe. The United States is a conservative nation, and I think it was too much for them to have a black president followed by a woman president. It is unbelievable to me that we have a president-elect who is endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan, who has an open contempt for women, who is homophobic, who is openly hostile to people of color, immigrants, the disabled, and Muslims, who encourages hate and allows it to flourish. His election allows him the possibility to act on this hatred. When necessary, we must find ways to resist him, to protest, and to vote in 2018 and 2020. We must carefully protect the defenseless. It will be a difficult fight, but as U.S. Citizens, we must find ways to resist the divisions between us.”
It is not all bleak. Wilson added, “In her diary, Anne Frank wrote, ‘Despite everything, I still believe that people are basically good at heart.’ ”
And a grace note with a ring of steely resolve: “The work remains.”
Endgame, which Wilson is directing in a new form, begins previews on November 28 and opens next month. It presents an immense opportunity to champion a less-than-cheery view of human existence. “Thanks largely to the bitterness of the direction and the acting,” reads a 1958 review in the New York Times, “Samuel Beckett’s second play turns out to be quite impressive.” It continues: “Mr. Beckett, destitute of hope, is flinging a shroud across earth’s last revels.”
From the play itself, some text to take with you: “When there were still bicycles I wept to have one. I crawled at your feet. You told me to go to hell. Now there are none.”