Created by Lars Jan/Early Morning Opera
Performed by and created with Mia Barron
When Joan Didion wrote her essay “The White Album” 50 years ago, she was struggling to navigate the moral torpor, violence, and alienation of the 1960s counterculture. Now, director Lars Jan is mining new lessons from Didion’s searing observations with a participatory, multimedia performance that uses a modern-day house party as a visual score to Didion’s seminal work. In Jan’s adaptation, Obie-winning actor Mia Barron performs Didion’s text in its entirety as a monologue, inhabiting the author’s voice as she reports on the Huey Newton trial, a memorable hangout with the Doors, the San Francisco State student protests, and the Manson Family murders. A cast of performers enacts scenes from the essay, and a second audience joins the performers onstage—acting as both witnesses and accomplices to the action.
This performance is part of Cal Performances’ 2020–21 Illuminations: Fact or Fiction series.