Laurie Anderson

We went to see Laurie Anderson’s The End of the Moon at BAM last night. It was rather unforgettable. Last time I saw Anderson’s performance was 6 years ago, and compared to that, I think I was simply more into it this time.

This time, the first thing I realized was that her set is so much more minimalistic. She has her wireless electronic (I think) violin/viola and a tiny little station — everything seems to be small, compact and elegant. She has an iPod-like control pad that she touches slightly over time. She has a touch-pad-like keyboard/control center of the size of a laptop that seems to do just about everything (I just wish that I can see how it really looks like). She kicks and steps on some switches on the floor as well. And those were all the equipment she has to deal with. It was incredibly simple. I got to focus much more on her words, voice and music than to see her busily running around, operating the equipment. It was therefore a much more mellow and calmer piece.

Interestingly, she has a toggle switch that I could hear the click when she flips to switch the video projection. All of a sudden I was brought back to the non-digital world, almost.

On this piece time she doesn’t sing at all. I would love to hear that but her calming voice seems to be just enough already.

She talks about that fear is always at the beginning, just like stuttering. One stutters at the beginning of utterance, like st-st-st-stuttering. Fear doesn’t come near the end, just as one doesn’t stutter at the end of a word, like stuttering-ring-ring-ring. Because at the end, fear turns into regrets.

When she says, “I could almost smell light,” for me, that’s almost the height of the evening for me. I was in a trance.

From BAM:

No wonder NASA chose Laurie Anderson as its first artist-in-residence. An intrepid multimedia pioneer long obsessed with our ever-changing romance with technology and how we think about ourselves in relation to the rest of the planet, Anderson weaves stories, music, songs, and words into epic portraits of American culture.

The End of the Moon, the second in a series of intentionally low-tech solo works featuring her remarkable music for violin and electronics, marks Anderson’s fifth BAM production. A decidedly more contemplative sister to her first solo effort, the extraordinary, sharply observed Happiness, The End of the Moon turns to the incisive power of words to convey how we feel about ourselves at this complex juncture. Drawing from her NASA-inspired travels and research, impression-packed journals, dreams, and theories, Anderson takes us on a music-theater journey that examines, among many other compelling themes, 21st-century perceptions of beauty and time, and the stories we exchange to help us along the way.

Lighting designed by Jennifer Tipton
Sound designed by Jody Elff

Commissioned in part by: BITE ’05 Barbican, London; Cal Performances, University of California, Berkeley, CA; University of Florida Performing Arts, Gainesville, FL; Society for the Performing Arts, Houston, TX; and Auditorium Parco della Musica, Roma

Photo: Kevin Kennefick

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