The other enduring memory, she said, was of John Turturro playing Hamm in a wheelchair, with Max Casella as Clov, in the “unrelenting and unforgiving” play “Endgame.”
One night, she recalled, the wheelchair collapsed, sending Turturro flying through the air. “He never broke character, even when the stagehands came on to pick him and the wheelchair off the floor,” Hopkins said. “The audience went nuts that night.”
‘Einstein on the Beach’
Lichtenstein discovered the work of the American director Robert Wilson, who was making a name for himself in Europe, around the time he took over at the Academy in 1967. “Harvey, in his most avant-garde heart, loved Robert Wilson, and felt he was on a divine mission to make sure that Bob’s large-scale work was seen in the U.S.,” Hopkins said. “There was almost no one 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 that they needed to raise $300,000 to present a Wilson collaboration with the 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 although the pieces can look cold, they are not. The heat comes from the ice around it; it’s an artistic trip.”
She added that she particularly loved his 2014 adaptation of the Soviet writer Daniil Kharms’s “The Old Woman” with Mikhail Baryshnikov and Willem Dafoe. “It was devastating, about someone starving to death, and you felt it,” she said.