Late Sunday night, there was a radiant light in the face of the Chicago actress Carolyn Hoerdemann. "This all reminds me of the early days of the
"I don't ever want this to end," Hoerdemann said, suddenly looking down at the floor, as if coming to terms with the fact that end this most surely will.
The "this" is the new
It's not hard to see why Goodman artistic director Robert Falls — a man long on record as regarding the shocking of an audience as a legitimate and highly desirable aesthetic act — invited Bieito, who is far better known in Europe than the United States, to Chicago. He had tried to get Bieito to be part of the 2009Eugene O'NeillFestival, but his opera schedule was too busy.
But then Falls suggested "Camino Real," that most difficult of Williams plays, staged in 1953 by
But Bieito, who says he has never before directed Williams, mostly because he did not want to do so with Europeans, bit down on Falls' offer. Especially because Falls already had secured an agreement from the Williams estate (which knew Bieito's work and trusted him) that would allow Bieito to insert poems and other Williams material into the piece, and generally mess around with the structure as he saw fit.
In person, Bieito has a modest, quiet demeanor and a humble line in rhetoric, praising Chicago actors (they are, he said, "shockingly good" and have allowed him to fully understand Williams for the first time) and the
"I am not a political director," he says. "At this time in my life, I'm more interested in poetry and spirituality. I hope this will be very much an American show, but from the point of view of someone who is not an American."
And, he says, he has enormous respect for his material.
"This is a wonderful play, an extremely avant-garde masterpiece, and a precursor of Fassbinder or
That void, Bieito says, has possibilities and ramifications.
"I know in Europe at least, we are all quite lost at the moment," Bieito said. "That void is a wonderful metaphor for the moment."
Nonetheless, reports from readers who have attended previews this week have referenced large numbers of audience members headed early for the exits (not uncommon elsewhere in the world at a Bieito production) and copious amounts of extreme violence, including a partial human dissection and spurting blood.
Bieito says he has been sitting in the audience some during previews.
"I think some people are a little bit shocked," he said, quietly. "My intention is to provoke thoughts and emotions. I think, I hope, they are being shocked in a very nice way."
"Camino Real" opens Sunday and runs through April 8 at the Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St.; $25-$79 at 312-443-3800 and goodmantheatre.org