The Forest

By Robert Wilson and David Byrne
Text by Heiner Müller and Darryl Pinckney
Choreography by Suzushi Hanayagi

Premiered on October 18, 1988 at the Theater der Freien Volksbühne, Berlin, Germany

[The] central story is traced coherently through the piece’s seven acts. The half-man, half-animal Enkidu (mimed by the heroically beautiful Howie Seago) is seduced from primordial grace by a prostitute (the lovely Geno Lechner) sent by Gilgamesh (here a Joel Grey in ‘Cabaret’ sort, nicely done by Martin Wuttke). The tale begins in the mythic past, then traces Gilgamesh’s yearnings for fulfillment, Enkidu’s first intimations of eroticism, the seduction, Gilgamesh and Enkidu’s symbiotic bonding, the heroic battle in which Enkidu dies and a short postlude in heaven.
— John Rockwell, in: The New York Times, December 4, 1988
What I find interesting in Wilson’s total motion is his search for the myths. An interesting aspect of the project is the combination of two founding myths, and a founding myth is always tied up with a founding murder. ‘Gilgamesh’ is a founding myth and tied up with murder. The industrialization in the 19th century also is a founding myth as well as a founding murder.
That’s simply a reaction to the loss of function that’s been taking place in theater. Theater is in a crisis, in this part of the world at any rate, because it cannot find its social or societal function any more. Out of this insecurity about the making of theater, people reach for origins, for myths. The search for the lost center.
— Heiner Müller, in: The Forest [program book], Berlin (Theater der Freien Volksbühne) 1988