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Videospace: The National Center For Experiments In Television, 1967-1975

Wednesday, October 4, 2000
!Heimskringla! or The Stoned Angels
Tom O'Horgan U.S., 1969

In the spring of 1969, playwright Paul Foster, a leading voice in the "off-off Broadway" theater movement, visited the NCET. With him was Ellen Stewart, founder of the renowned La Mama Experimental Theater. Foster had a new play, !Heimskringla!, which was an imaginative recreation of the discovery of America following Leif Eriksson's journey west. Arrangements were made to produce the drama for NET Playhouse using the visual techniques developed at the Center. When Foster returned, he had with him the La Mama Theater Troupe and director Tom O'Horgan who had just won an Obie for his production of Hair. Foster's anti-conformist style, in which ruptures in the narrative abound and the actors take on parts regardless of gender, was matched by a "Videospace Mix" that included hallucinatory image processing, eerie feedback effects, and keyed backgrounds. With a freewheeling spirit, !Heimskringla! throws everything into the potboiler: Norse sagas, kachina dolls, the Seven Deadly Sins, King Olaf's court, and an inflated white whale. It's a stoned-out artifact of the angelic sixties.-Steve Seid

• Written by Paul Foster. Videospace Mix by Robert Zagone. Produced by Brice Howard. With the La Mama Theater Troupe. (87 mins, Color, BetaSP, PFA Collection) Special thanks to KQED.