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Lars Jan + Early Morning Opera

“I first read The White Album when I was sixteen, and it is the piece of writing that I have reread most frequently in my life. The first sentence — “We tell ourselves stories in order to live.” — is rightfully famous. It is mathematical in its precision, an equation that has been distilled to an unassailable essence. Truth deserving of the capital T. As a theatre artist, it is this peculiar truth of Didion’s that I have built my life and career around.” — LARS JAN
The White Album is a participatory, multimedia performance that uses a modern-day house party as a visual score to Joan Didion’s seminal essay. Performer Mia Barron delivers the essay in its entirety, while behind her a parallel performance of choreographed participating audience members unfolds, visually demonstrating stark similarities in cultural dynamics between 1968 and now, challenging us to look critically at the past and to define new paths forward in our times.

The essay episodically traverses the tectonically shifting landscape of the late 1960s in California. Our current era carries eerie shades of the late 60s: the Black Panthers in Black Lives Matter; the SF State student protestors in the Occupy and Bernie movements. The struggles continue in our digitally illuminated light, broadcast openly and unfiltered. Racial injustice, generations of inequities, economic oppression and the brutality of institutional and individual violence unfold in the shadow of quagmire wars—while the dominant narratives of social progress collapse under the weight of in-box evidence.

Commissioned By

Center Theatre Group & Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM)

About The White Album

Creative Team

Lars Jan, concept/direction/design
Mia Barron, performance
Andrew Schneider, performance/systems design
David Bruin, dramaturg
Teresa Hartmann, stage manager
Madeline Barasch, assistant director
Miranda Wright, producer

Produced with Los Angeles Performance Practice


The White Album is co-commissioned by Center Theatre Group and Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM).

With thanks to Joan Didion and ICM Partners.

“Paradoxical beauty becomes our sacred spaces-those that define ourselves and refine our lives. These spaces are the healing balm that allows us to embrace our suffering within such darkness. It is also within these spaces we discover great art-art that shifts us, moves us and changes us. It is in such spaces that we approach the work of Lars Jan.”
-Art Pulse Magazine
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