Bob was commissioned by the Wexner Center for the Arts at The Ohio State University. It was developed in association with Theater Archa in Prague, Czech Republic. The New York City premiere was presented by New York Theatre Workshop in 1998.
Hello, my name is Bob. You’re absolutely fantastic, and I would love to work with you.
It’s hard for an American to get his work done in America!
If you know why you’re doing something, don’t do it! And I don’t mean that that is easy. Just don’t do it. If you know why you are doing something, let it go! To repeat, if you don’t know why you are doing something, nor how you think about it, DO IT!
I’m going to make a little drawing for you quickly, then I must go.
Bob is a solo show that revolves around the life and times of an internationally known avant garde theater director. Acclaimed as a genius, he rides the fast track of the ever-shrinking global art scene. He uses his own history and everyone around him as fodder for his grandiose staged spectacles. Through Bob, you’ll experience a creative crisis in the making and see where American pop culture and high culture collide. All the words in our production of Bob were spoken at one time or another by the internationally renowned theater director Robert Wilson. Bob is not meant to be a realistic portrait of Robert Wilson the man, but rather a dip into an engaging perspective about family, art, and American culture.
Note about process
In SITI Company’s second show, THE MEDIUM, there was a moment where Will Bond spoke a speech taken from an interview with Robert Wilson. Will subsequently actually worked with Wilson on a production of Persephone, and shortly after this, SITI was in Dublin to present THE MEDIUM at the Dublin Life festival. During technical rehearsals, Anne off-handedly asked Will if he could “Do Bob” now that he had spent some time with the man. So Will stepped out of the room for a moment and re-entered as “Bob.” This delighted everyone, and there was a joke about Will doing a one-man show as “Bob.” Jocelyn Clarke was there, and during a walk with Anne later that day, he suggested that maybe it wasn’t just a joke. They agreed that all the language in the piece should be things Robert Wilson actually said and that Jocelyn would “compose” the text.
“Genuine tribute [and] several kinds of cunning subversion … sturdy mix of human life with abstract beauty.” —The Village Voice
“Strikingly composed … a technically assured performance by Will Bond. A portrait of one genius taking on another. … Bond has balletic precision.” —The New York Times
Over the next year or so, Anne and her assistant, Kara Manning, collected every bit of text they could get ahold of that was on record as things Robert Wilson had said in interviews, press conferences etc. This material was sent off to Jocelyn along with some ideas that had emerged from exercises the company did around the themes of the material while in Toga presenting GOING, GOING, GONE. Jocelyn sent a nearly completed text back in a relatively short period of time.
The central idea behind the staging was the interaction of the character “Bob,” the square floor, a chair, a table, a glass and a bottle of milk. The arrangement of the chair and table would change in such a way that the orientation of the stage would “turn” 360 degrees.
A rough staging of the play was presented as a work-in-progress at Theatre Archa in Prague in October 1997 and then with little more than clip-lights at NYTW’s tiny Fourth Street theatre a few months later. Bob premiered at The Wexner Center in Columbus in February 1998 to audience and critical acclaim.
Bob was the first part of a trilogy about the artistic process: Room was inspired by the life and writing of Virginia Woolf, and Score is centered around Bernstein’s articulations about music. What joins these three works is the great obsession of these individuals with their art. Each is a journey to appreciation and new vistas.
Over the years, Bob has grown and deepened and become SITI Company’s longest-running show. It has toured to more places than any production in the company’s repertoire.