Almost a year ago The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic was announced as part of the Manchester International Festival. A show by Robert Wilson about (and starring) performance artist Abramovic featuring songs by Antony and compositions by William Basinki. Willem Dafoe was cast as the narrator, as a member of The Wooster Group he is no stranger to the avant-garde, and he was in Animal Factory with Antony years ago. After they added Matmos to the orchestra pit this turned into my dream team of performance theater.
I flippantly asked Morgan if he would be up to making a trip surrounding this show, and was a bit flabbergasted that he said yes. So I got us tickets and that began the planning of our trip to northern England, this show was on the fourth day of our trip. Before the show we met up with a group of friends from JustOneStar for a couple of drinks. There was a lot of catching up and it was my first time meeting most of them face to face, it was a great time. LADOMA was being performed at The Lowry, a performance art space in the Salford Quays. The theater was on the smaller size and our seats were on the balcony slightly left of center. On the stage already were three women laying in death poses while a few dogs wandered about the stage. They stayed there motionless while people filled the theater and the lights went dark very slowly. The show is a biographical account of Abramovic’s life and performances, while not linear, the show had a storyline. A scene with Abramovic playing her mother punishing a young Marina leads into a live snapshot of a related performance she did. All the transitions were not so obvious, the scenes and pictures were slowly built and created with a subtlety and tension that never strained the beauty. Written by Robert Wilson there was little dialogue on stage, the narrator handled most of the storytelling. Still being alive didn’t stop Wilson from writing Abramovic’s death scene (pictured above). I didn’t take that picture, I found it on the interweb.
The vocals were a knife used to cut thought the sweeping tonal music scored by Basinski. Antony wrote all the songs used in the show except for one, Snowy Angel, Baby Dee gets the credit there. Antony only sang a couple of the songs, and they were gorgeous. From where our seats were it was like he was singing directly to us. Antony is able to get into you and make you feel, Morgan now understands that Antony is something special. I heard him tell someone he loved Antony in it! The other voice in the show was Svetlana Spajic, a Serbian folk singer. Her voice has an elegant shrillness that wrapped around Antony’s. Abramovic and Dafoe both sang one song each, both near the end of the show. They are not strong singers, they sang in a droll manner that worked to convey a fear of the imminent end.
The show was beyond impressive, every moment is completely thought out and executed perfectly. The show sporadically touring for the next couple years, I would easily see it again.