Death, Destruction & Detroit

Play with Music in 2 Acts - A Love Story in 16 Scenes by Robert Wilson with additional texts by Maita di Niscemi
Premiered on February 12, 1979 at the Schaubühne am Halleschen Ufer, Berlin, Germany

Death, Destruction and Detroit (DD&D) started with a photograph to which Robert Wilson was inexplicably attracted.  He kept it on his desk in New York and unknowing of what it depicted.  It was not until a studio visitor told him that the image featured Rudolf Hess in Berlin’s Spandau prison, with two other Nazi war criminals, half-heartedly and one-handedly raking leaves.  This rare photograph was reimagined as the prologue to DD&D, starring the famous German actor Otto Sander (1941-2013).  Other iconic scenes from DD&D include the actors Philippe Chemin and Heike Pfitzner, lounging in “Beach Chairs” (designed by Wilson) on a roof over New York City, while the city below is burning; and Hess (Sander) as Siegfried fighting two dinosaurs.

Wilson later conceived and directed two sequels to this piece, DD&D II (Schaubühne am Lehniner Platz, 1987) and The Days Before: DD&D III (Lincoln Center Festival, New York, New York, 1999 et al.).

Welcome to Paradise!…The victory of theater over gravity.
— Benjamin Henrichs, Die Zeit, March 2, 1979