Authored by Kasey Correll
This object is a review of the play “I Was Sitting on My Patio This Guy Appeared I Thought I Was Hallucinating” (Harris, 1977). Mr. William Harris reviewed this play for the SoHo Weekly News in June 9, 1977, at the Cherry Lane Theatre. He was a famous writer and well known “contributor to The New York Times on dance and theater” (Harris, 2000, par 3). I selected this object for my AS-L project because it shows the beginning of a new type of play that Mr. Robert Wilson produced. It also represents the Vincentian core value of excellence, because of Mr. Wilson’s drive to not give up.
The famous producer was Mr. Robert Wilson who also stared as one of the main actors. He created this production in order to shape new way that plays are viewed, and believed he should take charge of one of the main roles in his play. This action would ensure that his audience would understand the message he was trying to provide, if he was able fully express it himself. Mr. Wilson wanted to show his dream through his play and also show his audience a new form of entertainment. When a producer is first forming a play they usually begin with forming the plot, characters, or dialogue. However, Mr. Wilson was interested in focusing on the setting first for this particular play, and his first ideas about the setting of the play were “I’ve had the idea for a long time of a room with lots of books, all placed neatly on shelves, and something slicing through the shelves. There is a telephone, and a telephone wire. There is a scrim or gauze over the front of the stage, and images are sometimes projected on it” (Kostelanetz, 1977, par 2).
This particular play was different than past plays Robert Wilson produced, simply because he wanted “to get rid of all the theatrical furniture” (Harris, 2000, par 7). This reasoning was referring to how his play’s setting contains zero dancing, little music, and only one small movie screen feed from a backstage projector. The setting was created without any distracting theatrical furniture, so the viewing audience would be able to focus on the vision and the importance of his Mr. Wilson’s play.
This review of Mr. Wilson’s play was a great object because it strongly reflects Vincentian core value of excellence of St. John’s University. This was Mr. Wilson’s first production that was the beginning of many ideas, on how to perform new ways plays were presented and portrayed. Even though theatrical critics including Mr. William Harris reviewed the play as not impressive and dreadfully boring, Mr. Wilson still had the drive and passion to continue creating plays in a different way. He took the criticism from the reviews about his play, learned from his mistakes and began to produce more productions that followed the different style. This particular play was the beginning of what influenced and created what American theater productions became to be, instead of script heavy European theater performances.
Barnes, Clive. 1977. “Patio Is Staged at Cherry Lane; One Must Suspend All Disbelief: Archives.” The New York Times, (May 23, 1977), https://www.nytimes.com/1977/05/23/archives/patio-is-staged-at-cherry-lane-one-must-suspend-all-disbelief.html
Cherry Lane Theater. n.d. “History: Mainstage History.” Accessed March 11, 2019, http://www.cherrylanetheatre.org/history/.
Gilbert, Ruth ed. 1977. “In and around town: A Critical Guide to Entertainment in the New York Area.” New York Magazine 10, no 23 (June 6, 1977): 21. https://books.google.com/books?id=QeQCAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA21&lpg=PA21&dq=I+Was+Sitting+on+my+Patio+This+Guy+Appeared+I+Thought+I+Was+Hallucinating+William+OR+Harris&source= .
Kostelanetz, Richard. 1977. “Robert Wilson Builds a New Play: Archives.” The New York Times. (May 8, 1977), https://www.nytimes.com/1977/05/08/archives/robert-wilson-builds-a-new-play-robert-wilson-builds-a-new-play.html
The New York Times. 2000. “William Harris Writer, 49: Archives.” (July 29, 2000). https://www.nytimes.com/2000/07/29/arts/william-harris-writer-49.html.
Wilson, Robert. 1979. “I Was Sitting on My Patio This Guy Appeared I Thought I Was Hallucinating.” Performing Arts Journal 4, no. 1/2 (May, 1979): 200-18. http://www.jstor.org/stable/4623775.