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A new version of “Relative Calm”, the 1981 show by Bob Wilson and Lucinda Childs, is coming to the Théâtre Garonne in Toulouse.

This Wednesday, the new version of Relative Calm, the theatre and dance show created in 1981 by Bob Wilson and Lucinda Childs and premiered the same year in Strasbourg, comes to the Théâtre Garonne in Toulouse. Forty years later, the stage director and choreographer reworked and modified the work, which premiered on 17 June 2022 in the Sala Petrassi of the Auditorium Parco della Musica in Rome. The shows in Toulouse’s Théâtre Garonne are the French premiere of Relative Calm.

Relative Calm brought Childs and Wilson back together in 1981, five years after the absolute success of their work for Einstein on the Beach, Philip Glass’s first opera. In their new version of Relative Calm, they have turned the original show into a triptych, partially using the work of the same title composed in 1981 by Jon Gibson – the American musician and composer who died on 12 October 2020 – on which the original show gravitated. In this 2022 version, the seventeen minutes of Rise, the first movement of Gibson’s work, which opens the show, are preserved. It should be remembered that Gibson was instrumentalist (flute and soprano saxophone) in key concerts by La Monte Young, Terry Riley and Steve Reich, and was a core member of the Philip Glass Ensemble between 1968 and 2019. Relative Calm concludes with the third movement of John Adams’ Light Over Water (1983), another minimalist-inspired work, while the central part of the show consists of a new creation by Bob Wilson and Lucinda Childs, Pulcinella Suites, based on the music for the ballet Pulcinella composed a hundred years ago by Igor Stravinsky for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. Interspersed between the choreographies of the different parts of the show, as “knee plays”, is the interpretation of two fragments of The Diary of Vaslav Nijinsky.

“The whole performance, in its three symmetrical parts, will be like a clock that measures time, like the passing of the hours of the day,” explained the American stage director at the premiere in Rome of the new version of Relative Calm, “a construction of space and time. Time and space cannot exist without each other, and whatever I bring to the stage, the central decision always has to do with time and space. Lucinda and I have always had a common sense of time, a common sense of the structure of the work: we think alike.”

“This is the first time I’ve worked with Stravinsky, although in recent years I’ve often entertained the idea of working with such a composer as a challenge,” Childs said. It’s a musical world I’ve frequented little, because since the 1960s we’ve all been influenced by John Cage and Merce Cunningham, but I’ve found that I can share their aesthetic ideas because music always remains at the origin of the construction of time and space, and we’ve chosen to work under the banner of a musical dialogue. I like having approached Stravinsky’s work, a completely different world to my own, but structurally interesting,” added Wilson. There is a close relationship between Adams and Gibson, who are from the same period, but I wanted to place Stravinsky at the centre of the show as a counterpoint to the other two, to make a kind of inversion, given that he is an element that follows a long tradition in historical terms”.

The show will be performed at the Garonne theatre in Toulouse from Wednesday 14 to Saturday 17, with five performances: Wednesday and Thursday at 20:00 and Friday and Saturday at 20:30. On Saturday there is a further performance at 16:00.

© Photograph by Lucie Jansch downloaded from the Robert Wilson website.