Few of you, I think, will even be aware of the passing on January 1st of one of theatre and performance art's most underappreciated geniuses. I'm of course a long time admirer of Wyszchi, so I thought I’d set myself the (daunting) task of listing the works of his which have inspired and touched me the most. So in no particular order:
-His series of Shakespearean "Absence Plays" in which the lead character (or characters as in his Romeo and Juliet (1972)), were removed, meaning that there were extended pauses where the text of their soliloquies "should" be. This cycle reached its artistic zenith with his Hamlet (1981) in which all the speaking roles were excised save for Horatio, who played his part as normal through the four hour play despite having lines in only seven scenes. Audience response was mixed, but Wyszchi countered that they didn't understand the production's "singular, troubling poignancy and cost effectiveness."
-His The Vanishing! trilogy (1973-76) explored in depth the philosophical question, familiar to all rehearsing actors, of where wallets, letters, swords, and other imaginary props "come from" during rehearsal, and where they "go" once given to other actors in the scene while blocking. He effectively asked: "when we, as actors and human beings engaged in imagined acts, give each other imagined pet rabbits onstage, and then release them because in five lines time we have to hug each other and we obviously can't have anything in our hands, where do those rabbits go, and isn't it time we paid attention to them?"
-After the painful break-up of his marriage to Julia Wyszchi following her decade-long affair with another man, he immediate cast them all in a three hour piece consisting entirely of the three of them on stage, being awkward and making tea for one another. Critics praised it as "quite uncomfortable."
He is of course most famous to the public for his year-long full- immersion projects, which included:
-spending all of 1969 on public transport using a single daytripper.
-Living the entire of 1970 darwinistically.
-In 1990 he didn't speak all year and, flattered by repeated calls for an encore, repeated the work three more times. The New York Times called it "a breath of fresh air".
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