The 2000 Next Wave Festival at the Brooklyn Academy of Music is just around the corner. Did someone remember to invite Robert Wilson? Yes, indeed, and Anne Bogart and Philip Glass, too. The autumn celebration of avant-garde theatre, dance and music works from around the world will begin on Oct. 4.
First up, before Wilson and Glass, is the official New York premiere of director-author Anne Bogart's theatricalization of the famous Orson Welles radio broadcast, War of the Worlds. Bogart and her SITI Company have been developing the piece over the last year, first in a reading at Joe's Pub in Manhattan, then at NYC's West Bank Cafe. They later took it to the Humana Festival in Louisville, KY, and, most recently, to Washington, DC's Kennedy Center.
Welles' Oct. 30, 1938, radio broadcast, an adaptation of H.G. Welles' science fiction yarn and performed as part of "The Mercury Theatre on the Air," convinced thousands that Mars was attacking Earth, despite network disclaimers and commercials. The broadcast landed Welles on front pages around the world.
Bogart uses the radio show, as well as clips from "Citizen Kane," to examine Welles' titanic talents for success, failure and outright mischief.
(Interestingly, though it is widely assumed that the "War of the Worlds" broadcast was intended by Welles as his great Halloween prank on the nation, he actually had little or nothing to do with the script and arrived at the studio only hours before the show was to begin, complaining about and changing the text up until the very minute the program commenced. The scarifying impact it had of people was not intended in the least. Later on, Welles warred with the author of the radio drama when the latter tried to publish it; Welles lost the legal battle.) War of the Worlds, conceived by Bogart and written by Naomi Iizuka, will play the Bam Harvey Theatre, Oct. 4-7.
This year's offering by theatre auteur ne plus ultra Robert Wilson comes by way of Sweden. With the acting corp of Stockholm's Stadsteater, he has taken a whack at August Strindberg's seldom-seen classic, A Dream Play. Drastically different from Strindberg's better-known, early works of taut naturalism, A Dream Play was written in 1901, during a period when the Swedish dramatist was experimenting with spiritual subject matter and a dream-like plot structure. In the play, the daughter of the Hindu god Indra comes down to Earth to learn about mankind.
Previous extant texts Wilson has taken his hand to include Ibsen's When We Dead Awaken, Hamlet and Gertrude Stein's Four Saints in Three Acts. His work is famous for its visual flair -- sharp silhouettes, stabs of color in the set and costume design, and surreal, elaborate set pieces. Acting in a Wilson piece, meanwhile, is stylized to a great degree, the actors basically playing one part of the overall concept.
A Dream Play will run Nov. 28-Dec. 2 and play at the Howard Gilman Opera house.
Other theatre attractions of the Next Wave Festival include:
• Oct. 4-7, the Brooklyn Philharmonic performing Philip Glass' Symphony No. 5, at the Gilman Opera House.
• Oct. 18-21, Maquina Hamlet, the Buenos Aires theatre company El Periferico de Objetos' radical interpretation of Heiner Muller's Hamletmachine, at the Harvey Theatre.
• Oct. 25-28, Uttar-Priyadarshi (The Final Beatitude), by the Ratan Thiyam's Chorus Repertory Theatre of Manipur, India, at the Gilman Opera House.
For information, call (718) 636-4100.
--By Robert Simonson