“We tell ourselves stories in order to live.”—Joan Didion, “The White Album” (1968–78)
This multimedia, theatrical adaptation of Joan Didion’s groundbreaking essay explores the eerie similarities between the cultural unrest of the late 1960s and America’s turmoil today.
Created by director and visual artist Lars Jan, "The White Album" uses a modern-day house party as a visual score to Didion’s seminal essay that witnesses the end of 1960s countercultural dream—hijacked by violence and chaos just as the Beatles’ so-called "White Album" (1968) was appropriated by Charles Manson and his murderous “family.” Obie Award–winning performer Mia Barron delivers the highly personal essay in its entirety while behind her the party unfolds, visually demonstrating the stark similarities in cultural dynamics between 1968 and now.
Layering in projected footage from the era, the performance’s parallel visual and dramatic texts challenge us to look critically at the past in order to forge new paths ahead. As we recognize echoes of the Black Panthers in Black Lives Matter, the sit-ins of San Francisco State students in Occupy Wall Street, "The White Album" urges us to consider how continued racism, inequality, and violence square with our own 21st-century narratives of social progress.
More about the artist
Director, visual artist, and writer Lars Jan is the founder of Early Morning Opera, a performance and art lab whose works explore emerging technologies and unclassifiable experiences. Jan’s Holoscenes (2014–present), The Institute of Memory (TIMe) (2015), and Abacus (2010/12) have been presented by the Whitney Museum of American Art, BAM’s Next Wave Festival, Under the Radar Festival, and The Institute of Contemporary Art / Boston, among other venues. His Slow-Moving Luminaries, an immersive kinetic pavilion on an acre of waterfront, was showcased at Art Basel Miami Beach in 2017.
The Wexner Center for the Arts is a co-commissioner of Lars Jan’s "The White Album" and will host a three-week developmental residency for the work in the summer of 2018.