Robert Wilson comes out of the space into which Ambrose Bierce vanished after he had seen the horrors of the Civil War. He comes back, the horrors now crawling beneath his skin, and his theatre is a resurrection: the dead are set free in slow motion. With the wisdom of fairy tales, that the history of mankind can no longer be separated from the history of animals (and plants, stones, machines) except at the price of its fall, the CIVIL warS defines the theme of our era: war between classes and races, species and sexes, civil war in every sense of the term. On this stage Kleist’s puppet-play has room to move, Brecht’s epic dramaturgy a place to dance. An art without effort, where the step creates the way. The dancing god is the puppet. His/Its dance traces a design for those humans with “new flesh,” born of the marriage of fire and water, whom Rimbaud dreamed of. Just as the apple of the tree of knowledge must be eaten again in order for mankind to recover the state of innocence, so must the Tower of Babel be rebuilt for the confusion of tongues to come to an end. A TREE IS BEST MEASURED WHEN IT IS DOWN. But the leveled forests grow/On beneath the earth. The clamor of the stock market will not survive the silence of the stage, which is the deep cause of its voice. When panthers walk between the counters of the World Bank and eagles in their soaring flight tear to pieces the flags that separate us, the theatre of resurrection will have found its stage. A TREE IS BEST MEASURED WHEN IT IS DOWN.
—Heiner Müller, translated by Paul Schmidt
Heiner Müller is one of Germany’s foremost playwrights and a collaborator with Robert Wilson on Act IV of the multinational opera the CIVIL warS: a tree is best measured when it is down. He wrote the statement above in response to the cancellation of the CIVIL warS at the Olympic Arts Festival in Los Angeles.
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