the CIVIL warS: a tree is best measured when it is down is an opera created in the early 1980s by director Robert Wilson to music by Philip Glass, David Byrne, Gavin Bryars and others. The vast five-act work has never been performed whole.
Originally, The Civil Wars was conceived as a single daylong piece of music theatre to accompany the 1984 Summer Olympics. Six different composers from six different countries were to compose sections of Wilson's text inspired by the American Civil War. After initial premieres in their countries of origin, the six parts were to be fused in one epic performance in Los Angeles during the games, a parallel to the internationalist ideals of the Olympic movement.
The premiere of the full work was cancelled when funding failed to materialize (despite the Olympic Committee's offer of matching funds) and deadlines were not met. But four of the six sections had full productions under Wilson's direction in Minneapolis, Rome, Rotterdam and Cologne, with workshop productions of the other two sections in Tokyo and Marseille.
A documentary on the work's creative process, Robert Wilson and the Civil Wars, was released in 1987. It is out of print.
Read more about The Civil Wars: A Tree Is Best Measured When It Is Down: Minneapolis Section: The Knee Plays, Cologne Section, Rome Section, Rotterdam Section, Marseille Section
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