Image: Robert Wilson and Willem Dafoe with Charles Shafaieh
Artists' News

Robert Wilson and Willem Dafoe with Charles Shafaieh New Social Environment #195

16 December 2020
The Brooklyn Rail

Watch a conversation with artist and experimental theater stage director and playwright Robert Wilson, actor Willem Dafoe, and host Charles Shafaieh, concluding with a poetry reading by Annabel Lee.

Since the late 1960s, Robert Wilson's productions have decisively shaped the look of theater and opera. Through his signature use of light, his investigations into the structure of a simple movement, and the classical rigor of his scenic and furniture design, Wilson has continuously articulated the force and originality of his vision. Wilson's close ties and collaborations with leading artists, writers, and musicians continue to fascinate audiences worldwide.

Wilson founded The Watermill Center in 1992 on the site of a former Western Union communication research facility near Southampton, Long Island, about two hours from New York City. Watermill fosters research in the arts of the stage, providing young and emerging artists with a unique environment for creation and exploration in theater and all its related art forms, and developing a strong global network transcending age, experience, social, religious and cultural backgrounds. Watermill supports projects that integrate different genres and art forms, break with traditional forms of representation, and develop democratic and cross-cultural approaches. Watermill is about living and working together, and creating your own environment and sharing this experience with others.

Having made over one hundred films, four time Academy Award nominee Willem Dafoe is internationally respected for bringing versatility, boldness, and dare to some of the most iconic films of our time. His artistic curiosity leads him to projects all over the world, large and small, Hollywood films as well as Independent cinema. Upcoming films include Wes Anderson's The French Dispatch, Abel Ferrara's Siberia, Paul Schrader's The Card Counter, and Robert Eggers' The Northman. He recently wrapped shooting on Guillermo del Toro's Nightmare Alley.

Willem is one of the original members of The Wooster Group, the New York based experimental theatre collective. He created and performed in all of the group's work from 1977 through 2005, both in the U.S. and internationally. Since then, he has worked with theatre directors Richard Foreman, Robert Wilson, Romeo Castellucci, and performance artist Marina Abramovic.

Charles Shafaieh is an arts journalist and critic whose writing on theatre, visual art, literature, film, and music has appeared in numerous international publications including The New Yorker, Artforum, The Times Literary Supplement, The Irish Times, and The Weekend Australian Review. Originally from Montana and now based in New York City, he writes regularly on opera for Opera News and on architecture and design for Harvard Design Magazine. His essays have also appeared in multiple books, such as _The Touch: Spaces Designed for the Senses_ (gestalten 2019). With the Brooklyn Public Library, he co-curates [Litfilm](, an annual film festival focused on writers.

The Rail has a tradition of ending conversations with a poem, and on this day were fortunate to have Annabel Lee reading.

• Annabel Lee is a poet, publisher, prose writer, translator, filmmaker, musician, educator, editor, typesetter, printer, bookbinder, and artist. She is the publisher of Vehicle Editions and a member of the board of directors of The Poetry Project and was formerly on the board at Center for Book Arts.

Robert Wilson and Willem Dafoe with Charles Shafaieh New Social Environment #195
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