Operatic in scope, ULULU (Clown Shrapnel) is a dramatic, genre-bending narrative and a lyrical cultural biography of the archetypal seductress Lulu. In a furious performance of text and imagery, Thalia Field introduces us to the stock characters of the commedia, the famous plays, operas, and silent films in which Lulu appeared, the artists who brought her to life, and the censorship and controversy that she engendered.
The myth of “Lulu” began during the height of late-nineteenth-century Viennese culture with a sequence of two plays by Frank Wedekind (Earth Spirit and Pandora’s Box), and continued through the two world wars with Lulu, an unfinished opera by Alban Berg, and Pandora’s Box, a highly acclaimed film by G.W. Pabst, starring Louise Brooks. Throughout all of Lulu’s incarnations she met with censure—Wedekind’s plays were banned from the stage, Berg’s opera, which contained a secret score for his young lover, was kept from the public by his widow, and Pabst’s erotic film was too risqué for many.
As Field’s story peeks into the dressing rooms and back alleys of history, words take the stage, “fictional” and “historical” characters speak side by side, and lyrical symbolism undulates throughout the pages. Original and treated footage from award-winning filmmaker Bill Morrison and illustrations from artist Abbot Stranahan complete this masterful work of avant-garde fiction, presented in a numbered and signed first edition limited to 1,500 copies.
In addition to her multimedia performance work, Thalia Field, an assistant professor at Brown University, is the author of Point and Line and Incarnate: Story Material.
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