Phantom Limb Company’s 69 Degrees South may be the first production staged at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival to require a sojourn in Antarctica to make aural recordings. The company’s principals, set designer Jessica Grindstaff and puppeteer Erik Sanko, received a National Science Foundation Artists and Writers grant to capture the sounds of ice cracking, wind shearing, and feet trudging through the snow—all part of their layered spectacle opening November 2. But 69 Degrees South—which chronicles Ernest Shackleton’s almost doomed 1914 Antarctic expedition—is no National Geographic special: It includes puppets and live dancers, 28-foot-tall moving iceberg sculptures, NASA satellite imagery, and a minimalist score by the Kronos Quartet, along with Sanko’s legendary downtown noise-rock band Skeleton Key creating its own rather maximalist cacophony. “We’re big fans of letting images evoke meaning,” says Grindstaff, who, along with Sanko, hopes to make one of history’s greatest adventures resonate deeply—and wordlessly—for a contemporary audience.
Photo: Egbert Euger