by John Stoehr
Dan Wakin, the classical music reporter for The New York Times, observed that "already three productions consciously blur the line between moving images and real life." In particular, he rightly praises the theater troupe 1927 for its stellar production of Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: an "ingenious, macabre little charmer," he writes. CCP critic Jonathan Sanchez called it "so distinctive and so original, so good-natured and lacking in pretension, it defies the typical anxieties of influence. The child-like wonder permeates the theater." But the use of moving images in live performance, one could say, goes back to pioneers like Laurie Anderson, who presents her newest work this week called Homeland.
Anderson has been performing the piece around the world and critics are noting that it's strangely — that is, strange for Laurie Anderson — free of multimedia. While much of Spoleto features a confluence between moving image and real life, as Wakin notes, Anderson seems to be going in other director, a reversal of her rebellious roots that is, given the current context, rebellious in its own right.
After years of being on the margins, Anderson's key trait is now at the center of stage performance. It's to the point, she told me during an interview weeks ago that will run in City Paper on Wednesday, that "the world is filled with screens. Every musical performance uses multimedia now. But they are an ugly distraction most of the time with the wrong tempos.”
The circus opera Monkey: Journey to the West uses video and animation created by Gorillaz cartoonist Jamie Hewlett. Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, a work of “theatrical cabaret” by a theater group called 1927, attempts to parody the film vernacular of silent movies. Marc Bamuthi Joseph, a turntablist, poet, and dancer, uses live video feeds and documentary footage for his show, the break/s. And the classic opera, Rossini’s La Cenerentola, prominently features video.