By Chaz Kangas
By Katherine Turman
By Phillip Mlynar
By Harley Oliver Brown
By Abdullah "T Kid" Saeed
By Matt Caputo
By Devon Maloney
By Chris Chafin
If the best directors are not all that far from cultists—needing to be magnetic enough to inspire some devotional buy-in—then Wilson has done his ritualistic part once again in 2012. Moran, Davis, and Koh share an evident hunger to do right by the piece and its new audience. (And on the music side, Philip Glass Ensemble musical director Michael Reisman says that this year of Glass performances has the group sounding better in this music than they've ever sounded before.)
According to Davis, so far on their 2012 tour, a similar desire to absorb the full Einstein education has been displayed by audiences, too. "This idea of going out [of the theater] and coming back in is completely lost on this generation," she says of the come-and-go freedom made explicit before the five-hour performance begins. "Everybody wants to see every moment of it."
Nor does the endurance test leave a performer unchanged. "When you do something that lasts for almost five hours, to go back into a piece that's an hour or an hour and 15, I kind of giggle," Davis says. "Like: 'Ah, y'all are a bunch of pussies! I've been sitting here for five hours. What? An hour? An hour and 15 minutes? What the fuck!'" she says with some laughter.
More seriously, though, Davis notes how the experience of Einstein on the Beach has changed the way she lives through the time span of more traditional works—and adds that it has changed her day-to-day approach to life. On many available accounts, it sounds as though the greatest teaching Einstein can do involves sitting and watching for its whole duration, rather than just listening to a CD. And for the first time in a long time in New York, there are some open seats available for the class. September 14–23, BAM Howard Gilman Opera House, 30 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn, bam.org