The White Album Comes Alive

By Nicole Serratore

Photo: Lars Jan

“We tell ourselves stories in order to live.”

With that will succinct opening sentence in her essay, The White Album, Joan Didion probes the identity of the artist, the act of writing, along with our compulsion towards narrative. however can be her storytelling an artistic venture or a cry for help—or both?

The essay involves 15 vignettes in which Didion flits between her own breakdown along with hospitalization, her relationship to the Charles Manson trial, a recording session with The Doors, the shooting of Huey P. Newton, along with the San Francisco State College strikes.

Didion gives voice not only to herself as a writer however to a distinct place along with time—America via 1966 to 1971, when the country was wracked with division. As a journalist, she was on the front lines. In her words, “I offer only that will an attack of vertigo along with nausea does not today seem to me an inappropriate response to the summer of 1968.” Her unsteadiness then reflected America’s.

For artist Lars Jan, The White Album remains “one of the great pieces of literature of our time” along with one that will begged for theatricalization. “the item can be a very personal monologue. She uses a tremendous amount of theatrical along with cinematic language to describe her experience within the earth—in terms of being a character, needing to hear cues, along with feeling like she needed a script however she had lost the item,” notes Jan. She analyzes her own off-kilter performance of her life.

Didion gave permission due to that will venture along with Jan’s broad-spectrum artistic background, which can be fitting due to that will adaptation via page-to-stage. Jan’s work with his performance lab Early Morning Opera moves between visual along with performing arts. He has straddled the personal along with political as well. Jan’s The Institute of Memory was a multimedia performance that will used photographs, reenactments, along with surveillance records to search for truth in his late father’s past. With Holoscenes, a durational installation on climate change, he placed performers in a massive aquarium which rapidly filled with water, leaving them to manage tasks under a deluge. Jan has always worked via his own writing, however Didion’s essay has followed him for 20 years. The chance to engage with the item was too tantalizing.

Photo: Lars Jan

the item also allows Jan to collaborate on-stage with his partner in life for once. Actor Mia Barron will perform the text of the essay (save quotations). Typically, Barron works in brand new play development along with Jan in visual along with performance art. however with “the quality of the text, along with Joan Didion, that will can be where our two paths have naturally crossed,” he says.

In her essay, Didion explores some of the battles over race along with economic justice within the 1960s. however on stage Jan delves the legacy of those events for movements such as Occupy Wall Street along with Black Lives Matter, along with what “contemporary America has to learn via the movements of the late 60s.”

Moreover, Didion’s depth of analysis varies on these potent issues. Fifty years later, that will gives Jan an opportunity to scrutinize the material anew. “I’m interested in not only what she covered along with how she covered the item, however also what she missed,” Jan says.

To look at those gaps along with resonances, Jan can be creating a dynamic performance space which he hopes will incite conversation along with collision between 1968 along with 2018. To do that will, the main audience for the show (Nov 28 to Dec 1) will sit within the BAM Harvey Theater, however another smaller audience composed of local students, artists, along with activists will be in a windowed, sound-proof box on stage. Within that will box, Jan intends to “take the late 60s along with distill the item into a party.” that will young activist audience will bring its own perspective to the events of the past.

As the essay works on two levels, so too will the theater piece. “She’s trying to tell the story of the country along with of the time, along with she’s also telling the story of herself,” Jan suggests. Didion zooms in along with out in her writing, so the show moves between the “internal along with macroscopic.” With Didion’s instability will come spatial flux on-stage with the two audiences, Barron, along with the box.

Fifty years on, we will experience that will expressive along with intimate voice that will Jan will put “into body, flesh, along with blood in space.”

The White Album runs via Nov 28 to Dec 1 at the BAM Harvey Theater..

Nicole Serratore can be can be a freelance theater journalist along with critic in brand new York City.


© 2018 Brooklyn Academy of Music, Inc. All rights reserved.

The White Album Comes Alive

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