Title: Women and Men in Robert Falls’ 2666
Author: Leigh Bienen
Publisher: HowRound Theatre Commons
Issue: October 13, 2016
Description: Brief commentary upon the theatrical work ‘2666’.
2666 begins with four European literary critics hot on the trail of the elusive German author Benno von Archimboldi, a search into the dark heart of the Mexican border city of Santa Teresa, where the brutal murders of hundreds of women over the course of a decade remain unsolved. Spanning more than 100 years—from Spain to Mexico to Germany and beyond—each of 2666’s ve books vary in style and rhythm, give an unflinching look at the nature of evil and illuminate the power of arts to reflect and transform the world.—Press Release, Goodman Theatre, Chicago, December 10, 2015
Last season, Goodman Theatre’s artistic director Robert Falls, playwright-in-residence, Seth Bockley, and an award-winning creative team of designers, brought 2666 to Goodman’s stage in a spectacular production. After two years in development, and despite its unusual length (ve hours, three intermissions) an absence of stars or traditional fanfare, the February-March run played to sold-out houses.
Finding yourself in the world of Robert Falls’ adaptation of Roberto Bolaño’s novel, 2666, is to be among the familiar and the strange: unsettling and ambiguous. Does the title refer to a distant calendar year? The novel sets its own rules, its own mesmerizing, narrative pace. For the stage production, audiences must submit as readers have to an authoritative artistic voice.
When the piece opens, we are in our world, with a real date, and an actual place, with people behaving in recognizable and amusing ways: At a literary conference in Bremen, Germany, in 1995, we meet four academics, all committed to translating the work of a German writer, Benno von Archimboldi. We laugh at the petty academic squabbles about tenure and publication, then fall into the trap of liking them, before realizing that their love and admiration for the “great writer” is inextricably bound to their self worth, and an infatuation with one another…