Premiered on April 12, 2009 at the Berliner Ensemble, Berlin, Germany
Performed in German.
The Bard is modern and alive than ever in Robert Wilson's Shakespeare's Sonnets, a contemporary take on 25 specially chosen sonnets from Shakespeare's cannon. Set to a sweeping score composed by Rufus Wainwright, a genre-bending mix of medieval German Minnesang, classical, pop, and cabaret rock is performed by the actors of the Berliner Ensemble. The sonnets were pared down and selected by dramaturge Jutta Ferbers who deftly adapted these captivating poems that were originally unintended for the theater. The production was staged in 2009 for the fourth centennial of the publishing of the Sonnets.
For this production, Wilson embraces the prevalence of subversive gender conventions embedded in Shakespeare's 154 sonnets which move fluidly between male and female objects of desire. Several quintessential characters make an appearance; from boy to fool, from Cupid to the mysterious Dark Lady, from the Queen of England to Shakespeare himself. Wilson's signature sculpting of time, light, and gesture combined with Wainwright's romantic, sensitive, and at times disturbingly dark score transports audiences to a dreamlike place suspended in time.