Mysteries of the Postmodern Deep: Laurie Anderson's Songs and Stories from Moby Dick

Mysteries of the Postmodern Deep: Laurie Anderson's Songs and Stories from Moby Dick Presented at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival, Songs and Stories from Moby Dick is a head-on collision between our most postmodern nineteenth-century novelist and a performance artist who, since the early eighties, has been praised and skewered as a tribune of the pomo. Anderson’s take on the great whale hunt is typically askew: she throws away major episodes and elaborates on wispy digressions, caring as much for the novel’s afterlife as for its plot. As a consequence, Songs and Stories is perhaps most interesting as a gloss on Anderson’s own art, which has seemed less pointed in the 1990s, as if its targets were slipping out of focus. Lavish and meticulous, the production is Times Square–millennial: a big bash, riotous with color and computer graphics, intrepid in its sampling of musical genres from funk and calypso to Broadway balladry. Yet it is also dubious about its own artistic glitz, questioning how our hunger for the all-embracing Gesamtkunstwerk may be the contemporary equivalent of Ahab’s mad search after the whale. So Anderson plays the accomplice of theatrical ambition and its critic, too. Her Moby Dick is sometimes enlivened, but mostly saddened, by the contradiction. Anderson follows http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Theater Duke University Press

Mysteries of the Postmodern Deep: Laurie Anderson's Songs and Stories from Moby Dick

Theater, Volume 30 (2) – Jan 1, 2000

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 2000 by Yale School of Drama/Yale Repertory Theatre
ISSN
0161-0775
eISSN
1527-196X
DOI
10.1215/01610775-30-2-160
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Presented at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival, Songs and Stories from Moby Dick is a head-on collision between our most postmodern nineteenth-century novelist and a performance artist who, since the early eighties, has been praised and skewered as a tribune of the pomo. Anderson’s take on the great whale hunt is typically askew: she throws away major episodes and elaborates on wispy digressions, caring as much for the novel’s afterlife as for its plot. As a consequence, Songs and Stories is perhaps most interesting as a gloss on Anderson’s own art, which has seemed less pointed in the 1990s, as if its targets were slipping out of focus. Lavish and meticulous, the production is Times Square–millennial: a big bash, riotous with color and computer graphics, intrepid in its sampling of musical genres from funk and calypso to Broadway balladry. Yet it is also dubious about its own artistic glitz, questioning how our hunger for the all-embracing Gesamtkunstwerk may be the contemporary equivalent of Ahab’s mad search after the whale. So Anderson plays the accomplice of theatrical ambition and its critic, too. Her Moby Dick is sometimes enlivened, but mostly saddened, by the contradiction. Anderson follows

Journal

TheaterDuke University Press

Published: Jan 1, 2000

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