Art & Design

   

Einstein on the Beach

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One of the “no-rules rules” of Einstein on the Beach, says actor Kate Moran, is that audience members are free to come and go from the auditorium during the performance. Having performed now in several cities during a major international revival tour, Moran has noticed the differing reactions to this rule in various cities. The Hong Kong crowds, she says, were more timid than the “festive” New York patrons, many of whom had seen the 1992 revival or even the original staging in the 1976.

“There was much more of a knowing atmosphere,” says Moran.

Created by Robert Wilson and composer Philip Glass, this isn’t the only convention broken by Einstein on the Beach. An opera in four acts, the piece is composed around a series of recurrent images and stage designs – a “visual book” devised by Wilson and scored by Glass. Choreographer Lucinda Childs contributed several dance sequences and created the role into which Moran now gratefully steps for this new revival. Moran fills the principal role as an actor, and a dancer performs in the original movement sequences devised by Childs.

“This lessened the pressure, because Lucinda is so iconic and impossible to replace, there had to be two people to do her part!” Moran continues.

The work is not a portrait of Albert Einstein but uses image, music and performance to reflect on the famous scientist and his contributions to twentieth-century thought.

One reaction that has been universal from audiences around the world, Moran notes, is that of “amazement” from students seeing the work for the first time.

“Everywhere we’ve had talkbacks with students and the reaction has been the same: astonishment,” says Moran.

“It’s rare for a piece to have such staying power in any art-form. But it’s like seeing a Rothko for the first time, or another great piece – there’s a quality in some works that is so original and so powerful, they remain groundbreaking no matter how much time passes.”

Einstein on the Beach is playing at Arts Centre Melbourne from July 31 to August 4. For more information and tickets visit: artscentremelbourne.com.au


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