I La Galigo. Directed by Robert Wilson. State Theatre, Melbourne International Arts Festival, 19 – 23 October 2006.

Margaret Hamilton


There were two twins. One went on a round trip into outer space. When he got back home he was younger than his brother, because his heart, brain and bloodflow ‘clocks’ had slowed down during the trip. This is because time has a material or ‘length’ aspect. The space twin was surprised on his return to discover how much older his brother was. (Einstein in Leeming, 2002: 17-18)

No doubt a reference to Einstein’s Twin Paradox constitutes a seemingly incongruous opening to an appraisal of Robert Wilson’s latest production I La Galigo, inspired by an epic poem from South Sulawesi. However, Einstein is not only the subject of one of Wilson’s most acclaimed productions, but this brief allusion to his theory encapsulates the hypnotic dilation of time intrinsic to Wilson’s theatre. Wilson is known for his ability to transform the stage into a temporal sculpture that renders the presence of time aesthetically tangible through duration and repetition. His unique spatial construction imposes a kinetic logic on objects and the human body to frame motion and open up ‘mental space’ for contemplation in the theatre medium (Wilson, 1997: 81). What ensues for the audience is an atmosphere analogous to the experience implied by the unearthly ‘blood flow’ of Einstein’s clock.


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Cohen, Matthew Isaac. Review of ‘I La Galigo’ by Robert Wilson, Asian Theatre Journal 22: 1 (2005): 138-49.

Gilbert, Helen. Sightlines: Race, Gender and Nation in Contemporary Australian Theatre (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1998).

Holmberg, Arthur. The Theatre of Robert Wilson (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1996)

I La Galigo. Program, Melbourne International Arts Festival, 12-28 October 2006. Leeming, David. Myth: A Biography of Belief (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002).

Lehmann, Hans-Thies. ‘Time Structures/Time Sculptures: On Some Theatrical Forms at the End of the Twentieth Century’, Theaterschrift 12 (1997): 29-47.

Wilson, Robert. ‘Time has no concept’, Theaterschrift 12 (1997): 79-95.


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