Characters Discussed

Download PDF Print Page Citation Share Link

Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 502

Sixteen chorus members

Illustration of PDF document

Download Einstein on the Beach Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Sixteen chorus members,

a violinist

a violinist, and

four lead actors

four lead actors, each of whom wears a costume based on a photograph of Albert Einstein: baggy pants, suspenders, a short-sleeved shirt, and sneakers. The violinist actually resembles and represents Einstein, who played the violin; the other cast members perform actions and use props in ways that are loosely suggestive of Einstein’s habits, appearance, and work. In the first scene of act 1, for example, a female dancer carries a pipe (Einstein smoked a pipe), a man scribbles equations on a blackboard, and a boy standing on a tower carries a glowing plastic tube and launches paper airplanes. The performers’ speeches contain references to numbers, stars and planets, light, gravity, and limitlessness, and two of the lead actors appear as astronauts in the penultimate scene, which seems to represent a nuclear apocalypse. No performer takes a fixed role; instead, the performers, music, sets, and lighting work together to create images and scenes to which the audience can assign meaning. Nevertheless, the four lead actors (two women, an old man, and a boy) do appear and reappear in various recognizable “parts.” In two scenes reminiscent of a trial, the old man and the boy sit on the judge’s bench, one woman is a defendant, and the other woman is a witness. The chorus stands in the jury box. In the second of these scenes, however, the “defendant,” after moving from a stool to a bed, rises and assumes the appearance of Patricia Hearst in a famous photograph of a bank robbery. Later in the scene, she reappears with her arms chained and seats herself again on the stool. In a third trial scene, the judge, defendant, witness, and jury are absent; only the image of the bed that stood before the judge’s bench remains. The man who plays the “old judge” in the first two...

(The entire section contains 502 words.)

Unlock This Study Guide Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this Einstein on the Beach study guide. You'll get access to all of the Einstein on the Beach content, as well as access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

  • Themes
  • Characters
  • Critical Essays
  • Analysis
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial



Critical Essays