Samuel Beckett's "Krapp's Last Tape" may not be as famous as his other masterpiece, "Waiting For Godot." But when director and actor Robert Wilson brought the play to Beijing as part of the Theater Olympics, tickets sold out.
A white cube is all the audience can see on stage before the play begins. Then, all of a sudden, with a roar of thunder, the curtain rises. A tattered clown sits in the darkness. Over the next 20 minutes, not a single word is uttered. All the audience hears is the sound of heavy rain hammering down on this lonely world.
Wilson, the play's director and sole actor, has been hailed by critics as a leading light in avant-garde theater. But the 73-year-old sees himself differently.
"For me avant-garde means to rediscover the classics. All of my work is very classical, very formal. And it has been since my first play that my plays are structured classically," he said.
Although his works are always non-narrative, Wilson explains how his works still conform to traditional theater.
"So in Act One, that has themes A and B; Act Two: C and A; Act Three: B and C: And Act Four: A, B and C together. This is not something new. It's formal classical structure," he said.
Wilson met the play's creator, Samuel Beckett, decades ago. He remembers that when he asked who Beckett's favorite actors were, the playwright answered Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin, both great physical comedians in the age of silent films.