Two titans of American avant-garde theatre, Laurie Anderson and Anne Bogart, are joining forces on a new musical called Moby Dick and Other Stories, which will open the Brooklyn Academy of Music's 1999 Next Wave Festival.
Larry Larson, general manager of Anderson's production company, the Electric Theatre Company, said the project marked the first time Anderson and Bogart have collaborated, though the two women have been friends for many years.
Larson called Moby Dick "a Laurie Anderson kind of musical." The show will not relate the tale of the Great White Whale and Captain Ahab per se, said Larson, but rather will communicate Anderson's take on the Herman Melville classic. Anderson will appear in the production along with a few other actors, and Bogart will direct.
Bogart is the head of the praised Saratoga International Theatre Institute (SITI), with which she has conceived and staged such lauded works as Bob, The Medium and Small Lives, Big Dreams. Her work is typically marked by its physically disciplined performances and enveloping sound and lighting design. Bogart has also tried her hand at more conventional theatre, directing Paula Vogel's breakout work, The Baltimore Waltz.
Anderson is as famous for her recorded work as her stage efforts. She has been a presence in experimental music and performance art for the two decades since her album Big Science and its single "O Superman" became surprise hits. Other albums include United States I-IV, which Anderson performed at BAM in 1983. Other stage works include Voices from the Beyond, part of Lincoln Center's 1991 Serious Fun Festival; and Stories from the Nerve Bible, seen in 1993 at the Annenberg Center in Philadelphia. Moby Dick is a co-commission of BAM, the Spoleto Festival, the Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts in Northhampton (where the show will receive its premiere in April 1999), the University of California--Berkeley, and UCLA.
--By Robert Simonson