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  • THE LAST SONG OF RICHARD STRAUSS was a breakthrough work for me in many respects. It was my first collaboration with the visual artist of genius Nikos Alexiou, and my first work following my introduction into the artistic world of Robert Wilson (I was lucky enough to witness the creation of The Black Rider and Orlando in Germany). I used music here for the first time. (The divine song Im Abendrot by Richard Strauss was introduced to me by a lover in Berlin as the Wall was being torn down. THE LAST SONG is dedicated to him. He hated birds; the female character perches bird-like on the man's shoulder.) The role fate plays in the meeting of people finds first expression in this work. It was here that I made first use of full-body make-up. This was also the first piece to be presented in the Artists' Building - a squat transformed by our own hands into a small theatre space. All in all, this is one of my favourite works. It is also one of my most personal.
    A man meets a woman. He is a traveller, she is rooted in one place. He is eternally running, she eternally spinning. He is a line, she a circle. A white square defines the limits of her space; scattered within it are seven basins filled with water, at which she repeatedly tries to scrub away the red that stains her palms. Thirsty, the man enters her space and drinks of the water in which she washes her hands. He feels her presence, yet cannot see her. The man becomes entrapped in her centripetal force, and she attacks him like a flapping bird; she becomes visible to him. The pair embrace as if they had craved it for ages. Unable to escape her fate, she strips his upper torso, inevitably revealing the redness of his insides. He stands there exposed, his insides out. As if waking from a dream, he picks up his suitcase. It falls open, his red documents spilling out. Shutting the suitcase, he pulls his jacket back on, hiding away his redness. He exits at a run, leaving the woman behind, scrubbing her hands at the basins of water. The runner's figure is now streaked with red, as if scarred.
    The movements of this piece are performed in extreme slow motion, and their vocabulary is drawn from the silent film genre.
    This was the first work to make use of the electric charge that sparked between Angeliki and myself on stage; this energy was put to best use in MEDEA (1993).


Commissioned by the Ioannis and Efterpi Topalis Foundation of the University of Patras, Greece
22 minutes
Première: 31 May 1990, at University of Patras (Patras - Greece)

In collaboration with Nikos Alexiou
Direction - Choreography - Costume Design: Dimitris Papaioannou
Set Design: Nikos Alexiou
Performers: Dimitiris Papaioannou, Angeliki Stellatou