The other lasting memory, she said, was of John Turturro playing Hamm in a wheelchair, with Max Casella as Clov, in the “relentless and ruthless” play “Endgame.”
One night, she recalled, the wheelchair collapsed, sending Turturro flying through the air. “He never broke his character, even when the stagehands came to get him and the wheelchair off the floor,” Hopkins said. “The crowd went crazy that night.”
‘Einstein on the beach’
Lichtenstein discovered the work of American director Robert Wilson, who was making a name for himself in Europe, around the time he took over the Academy in 1967. “Harvey loved Robert Wilson at his most avant-garde heart, and felt he was on a divine mission to ensure that Bob’s large-scale work could be seen in the US,” Hopkins said. “There was hardly anyone in the audience for early pieces like ‘Deafman Glance,'” she said. “Or they would go home, do some laundry, come back; the pieces went on for hours!”
In 1984, Lichtenstein told his team they needed to raise $300,000 to present a Wilson collaboration with composer Philip Glass called “Einstein on the Beach.” Hopkins agreed. “I don’t know how, but we’ll do it,” she said.
“Einstein” was a success. “After that, the legend just grew and grew,” she said; the show returned to the Academy in 1992 and in 2012. “Bob works in a very inside-out way, not traditionally theatrical and very stylized,” Hopkins said. “But it comes from the gut and while the pieces may look cold, they’re not. The heat comes from the ice around it; it’s an artistic journey.”
She added that she was especially fond of his 2014 adaptation of Soviet writer Daniil Charms’ “The Old Woman” starring Mikhail Baryshnikov and Willem Dafoe. “It was devastating, about someone dying of starvation, and you could feel it,” she said.