Life and death of Marina Abramović

Antony & William Basinski

2h 20m

This is a very different kind of show from the Marina Abramovic Presents... that we performed at the Manchester International Festival in 2009. That was performance art, but The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic is a poetic piece of biographical theatre.
The first one came about during a really difficult period in my life, when I didn't know where I was going with my work. I think I adopted the theatrical form to distance myself from the pain. I found the process so interesting that every five or six years I go back to it, and I ask a different director to take on my biography. Charles Atlas did the first biopic in 1989 and Michael Laub has done the last one, The Biography Remix, in 1997. This time, I wanted to work with Bob because I've been a big fan of his for a long time. He has really invented a new language of theatre in relation to time and space. His imagery is iconic, he paints with light.
Every time I do a biography, I start from the same principle: to completely relinquish control. So, by giving the material to a director, he can reorder my life in a certain way. It may or may not lead to a chronological account - that's not important. I am material and nothing else. I don't contribute anything, but what happens every time is that my life is new to me.

I can't tell you how liberating that is. When I met Bob, he said he wanted me to play my mother, when in real life I have a tremendous problem with my mother, a real love-hate relationship. But he saw something in that, and he wanted to explore it, even if it meant I spent the whole time crying since I arrived in Manchester.
This biopic is different, because all the other directors concentrated on aspects of my work, whereas what Bob wanted to explore was my life. He took all the tragic, painful, affective stories I'm made of, and put them on stage. In fact, it all becomes so tragic that you almost have to laugh, and for me it was a tremendous release of negativity. Working with Willem and Antony is like a fascinating chemical reaction. I can't imagine working with anyone else: Antony has captured my life in music in a very moving way, and Willem is an amazing actor.
Why am I still intrigued by my biography? Because artists always work with materials from their own lives. Making art is about transferring those feelings and thoughts into a universal language. That's also how biography works. But for me, it is still very personal, and that is why I want to dedicate The Life and Death of Marina Abramović to the great love of my life, Paolo Canevari.

Marina Abramovic


From the historical archive of Teatro Real. Only for suscribers in Spain.

A creation of Marina Abramovic y Robert Wilson

Music by Antony & William Basinski

Creation, stage direction and scenography Robert Wilson

Figurinist Jaques Reynaud

Lighting A. J. Weissbard

Co-creation Marina Abramović

Commission and new production of Teatro Real and Manchester International Festival with Theater Basel, Art Basel, Holland Festival, Salford City Council and the Singel in Antwerp



Marina Abramovic

Ivan Civic

Amanda Coogan

Willem Dafoe

Andrew Gildchrist


Elke Luyten

Christopher Nell

Kira O'Reilly

Carlos Soto

Antony Rizzi

Svetlana Spajic



Teatro Real
Antony & William Basinski
Marina Abramović, Willem Dafoe
Georg Friedrich Händel
Marc Minkowski, Robert Wilson
Teatro Real
Giacomo Puccini
Nicola Luisotti, Bob Wilson