Sydney Festival - Joan Didion's The White Album
8 Jan — 12 Jan 2020
Roslyn Packer Theatre
Joan Didion's The White Album
First published in 1979, Joan Didion’s caustic, seminal essay The White Album is a shifting literary mosaic. It takes readers from the Black Panther Trials to a troubled recording session with The Doors, to student sit-ins and strikes, and into the events that put an end to the hazy hopes of the Summer of Love: the Manson Murders.
Obie-winning actor Mia Barron delivers Didion’s highly theatrical text in full as a parallel performance unfolds behind her. 25 young audience members participate in vignettes juxtaposing the social upheaval of the ’60s with present day injustice and institutional violence.
It’s a bold, genre-bending staging of The White Album’s entire text by experimental theatre director Lars Jan, founder of performance and art lab Early Morning Opera and acclaimed large-scale installation artist.
His epic, kinetic sculptural and installation works have exhibited in Times Square and at Art Basel Miami; their inventive use of space is reflected in The White Album’s versatile, modernist stage design echoing Didion’s Los Angeles home.
Jan expands Didion’s piercing and jaundiced observations of her world and her own mind into a brilliantly theatrical phantasmagoria of voices, attitudes, dreams and nightmares.
The White Album premiered at Pittsburgh’s International Festival of Firsts in October 2018.
“A multilayered production that radiated with a light hallucinatory touch” – The LA Times
★★★★ “[It] preserves the original text in its entirety [but] adds an improbable dose of boisterous energy to her doom-laden reminiscences…obliquely portray[ing] a nation that is still struggling to put itself back together” – The Financial Times
“Utterly brilliant, relatable, and knows how to pull you deep into the murky waters of what Didion herself was grasping to understand” – Broadway World
“This elegant literary mosaic bears witness, in both its form and content, to the breakdown of the prevailing postwar American narrative” – The LA Times (on essay The White Album)
Approx. duration 120 minutes (no interval). Subject to change.
Content warning Contains strobe, fog & portrayal of gun violence.