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$26,003 pledged of $35,000 goal
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All or nothing. This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by .

About

"I was supposed to have a script, and had mislaid it. I was supposed to hear cues, and no longer did." 

                    ~ Joan Didion, The White Album

The White Album is among the most important essays ever written, by one of America's most incisive, essential writers. This fall, my collaborators and I will premiere a multidisciplinary theatre work featuring Obie-winning actor Mia Barron performing the entirety of the essay.

In this seminal essay, Joan Didion traverses the tectonically shifting landscape and iconic characters of the late 1960's — The Black Panthers, student protests, The Doors, Charles Manson — and she tells this particular story with herself at its center. Her voice is unmistakable: at turns unequivocally cool, impossibly illuminating, and just shy of total collapse. 

After a twenty-year personal obsession with the essay and an epic quest to secure the theatrical rights, I have been given the green light. And we’re going to stage every word.  

We premiere at Pittsburg's Festival of Firsts (Oct 2018), go on to the BAM Harvey Theatre as part of the 2018 Next Wave Festival (Nov 2018), and then on to Los Angeles, courtesy of a co-presentation by Center Theatre Group & The Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA (Apr 2019). 

WHY NOW // 1968 - 2018 

Didion writes about the dimensions and character of American chaos more articulately and sensitively that any other writer. While The White Album focuses on the late ‘60s in California, it’s hard not to feel the uncanny threads that connect us now to the revolutionary legacies of that time.

50 years later, we again wrestle openly with racist and sexist tumults, absurd inequity, and so much violence that it's become as American as apple pie. Our performance uses this masterpiece of an essay as a portal into that time, and considers the forms these legacies take in our lives today.

Performer Mia Barron during an early development residency at The Headlands Center for the Arts. Photo by Lars Jan.
Performer Mia Barron during an early development residency at The Headlands Center for the Arts. Photo by Lars Jan.

"We tell ourselves stories in order to live." 

                    ~ Joan Didion, The White Album

This opening line of the essay hits on a double-edged truth that runs through the performance.  First, storytelling is living. Second — and this is the sharper of the edges — the stories may be, in part, creative acts of self-delusion.

Our performance is double-edged too, and in a way, there are actually two performances happening at the same time, one nested inside of the other, for two distinct audiences. One audience, seated in the theatre, experiences every word of the essay's fifteen vignettes— which span from 1966 to 1971— performed in full by Obie award-winning actor Mia Barron. Behind her is a large soundproof room, with a glass wall. Inside this room, the second audience creates a house party onstage that increasingly takes on a life of its own.

The party — which we’ll create together with the second audience — is a parable for the late 60’s, and for right now. It synchronizes and resonates with the performance of the essay throughout.

Ultimately, the glass wall opens, the two audiences meet across a massive divide that is both physical and generational, and have to choose whether to party... or riot.

We need your help to make this meeting happen in cities across the country.

Structure designed by P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S Architecture
Structure designed by P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S Architecture

YOUR SUPPORT 

We can't realize our concept for The White Album without the fully portable, soundproof room that has been designed for us by our collaborators at P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S Architecture.

The structure features cutting-edge lighting and sound technology, and allows us to throw a party onstage during the performance, which can be fully seen through a giant glass wall — but, critically, not heard. And, part of the magic of the structure is essential, but never seen by audience: it sets up and breaks down into tourable parts in hours.

The party is a parable and the structure is our portal. Your support will help us realize our vision for both!

Your support can be tax-deductible (less market value of merchandise) through this Kickstarter campaign and our 501(c)3 non-profit organizational partner, Los Angeles Performance Practice. 

Multimedia Director + Artist Lars Jan
Multimedia Director + Artist Lars Jan

OUR TEAM

Over twenty creative collaborators are bringing this project to life, including:

Director Lars Jan's climate change-themed performance installation, Holoscenes, caused an international sensation in Times Square when the administration withdrew from the Paris Climate Accords in early June 2017. His play The Institute of Memory (TIMe) was a New York Times Critic’s pick and is still touring widely. As the winner of the 3rd Audemars Piguet Art Commission, he built Slow-Moving Luminaries, a kinetic pavilion during Art Basel Miami in December 2017.

Obie award-winning actor Mia Barron (The Wolves, The Coast of Utopia), who will perform the essay in its entirety.

Obie award-winning artist Andrew Schneider (YOUARENOWHERE, AFTER) performs in the piece, as well as working on the lighting design and participatory systems. 

Sound designer and composer Jonathan Snipes is one third of the experimental hip hop group clipping.

Choreographer Stephanie Zaletel and dancer Micaela Taylor are two of the most exciting emerging choreographic voices in Los Angeles.

Kate Fry is designing costumes, and Chu-hsuan Chang is the co-lighting designer. 

Additional performances by Stephanie Regina and Dana Gourrier. 

David Bruin is Dramaturge, Maddie Barasch is the Assistant Director, and Sarah Peterson is Production Manager. 

Steve Tolin at Tolin FX is working with us on a special effects surprise. 

P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S Architecture, our set design collaborators, bring a critical and progressive approach to projects ranging across scales, programs and geographies while insisting on the cultural and social relevance of architectural form and contemporary aesthetics.

Fabrication will happen in collaboration with STEREOBOT, a design and technology integration company. 

Project Producer Los Angeles Performance Practice is a non-profit organization devoted to producing and presenting contemporary performance by artists whose work advances and challenges multidisciplinary artistic practices. 

YOUR REWARDS

Backer rewards feature 1968 artwork by Lars Jan:

All apparel is premium quality and designed by tee-shirt maestro and indy-label legend Wilson Kello (Same). You'll note size and color preferences at the conclusion of the campaign. (Hoodie & Print images coming soon)

White 1968 premium cotton tee
White 1968 premium cotton tee
Black 1968 premium cotton tee
Black 1968 premium cotton tee
Orange 1968 premium cotton tee
Orange 1968 premium cotton tee
Turquoise 1968 premium cotton tee
Turquoise 1968 premium cotton tee
Mint 1968 premium cotton tee
Mint 1968 premium cotton tee
Heather 1968 premium cotton tee
Heather 1968 premium cotton tee

OUR COMMISSIONERS

The White Album is commissioned by Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) and Center Theatre Group, with additional commissioning support from The Wexner Center for the Arts at The Ohio State University, CalArts Center for New Performance, and The Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA (CAP UCLA). Special thanks also to Griffin Dunne, ICM Partners, and Joan Didion.

Risks and challenges

First, there's the scale. We're necessarily a huge creative team, working across various disciplines to support the powerful implications of these legendary words. The onstage soundproof structure is a massive engineering challenge. And then, this project is based on a masterpiece — many people are attached to this work and have a stake in how it is interpreted. The author is alive, and her legacy is still being written.

Only with your help will we be able to bring the full vision of our team to life.

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    Research Download

    Follow our process as we complete a research & dramaturgy residency this summer. We'll send you a pdf with research and reference material for the performance.

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    1968 Postcard Set

    A set of 6 postcard-size small prints featuring 1968 artwork by Lars Jan.

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    12" Editioned Print

    Signed + editioned 12x12" print of Lars Jan's 1968 piece on archival Hahnemühle Fine Art paper.

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