Closed 0h 50m
Early Shaker Spirituals
Soho/Tribeca
85

Early Shaker Spirituals NYC Reviews and Tickets

85%
(9 Reviews)
Positive
89%
Mixed
11%
Negative
0%
Members say
Absorbing, Intelligent, Great staging, Riveting, Resonant

About the Show

The Wooster Group revives its musical inspired by the 1976 LP recorded by the Sisters of the Shaker Community, giving a new live performance of their songs.

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Member Reviews (9)

87
Ambitious, Great staging, Profound, Riveting, Refreshing

See it if Wooster Group dials back its usual hyperkinetics for a simple aesthetic Presenting Shaker society thru its music & movement A profound 1 hr

Don't see it if Lack of drama or storyline may trouble (even bore) but the spiritual simplicity of the piece wins one over The five women ensemble shines

95
Absorbing, Exquisite, Great acting, Great singing, Great staging

See it if ...you are interested in American history, or spirituality, or folk music or dance, or experimental theater.

Don't see it if ...you get antsy: the piece begins in stillness & remains "low energy" for some time before breaking out into great joy.

Critic Reviews (12)

May 29th, 2014

"Austere and profoundly affecting...“Early Shaker Spirituals” testifies joyously to the discipline, dedication and conviction that have allowed one band of artists to endure and flourish on its own uncompromising terms. The show lasts only an hour, yet it seems to span not just decades but centuries of creative evolution and ancestry...What you feel is a true communion of artists with their predecessors."
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May 27th, 2014

"The austerity refreshes like cool water. No text but the record sleeve, no sound but the invocation of long-ago, creaky-voiced Shakers. The women, beautifully severe, don’t even “perform,” beyond looking gravely at the audience. The Wooster gospel has ever been complex, sophisticated and arch. "Early Shaker Spirituals" has such simplicity and vulnerability, I was surprised to find that they’re charging money; it has so much the aura of a proffered gift."
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April 26th, 2015

"Although performed with uncanny exactitude, this experimental musical theater piece is easier to admire than enjoy...This is as austere and unaffected as the spiritual music it reproduces...more intriguing in its conception than execution...The evening soon feels dull and repetitious."
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January 22nd, 2015

"What could be the points of connection between an avant-garde performance company and this monastic tradition? Nothing on the surface, but dig deeper and you'll find the same proud insularity, daily commitment to work and openness to the grace of inspiration..."Early Shaker Spirituals," a brief work that could probably be presented as effectively as a theatrical installation in a gallery, reminds us that artists following a true calling are secular saints."
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April 26th, 2015

"It's a strange, defiant, quixotic, fruitless and all-the-more-admirable-for-it evening of entertainment...It lasts one hour and is, appropriately enough, seemingly simple and straightforward in every way. It's purely in the spirit of that strangely memorable religious sect...The evening is not moving in a theatrical sense, but it moves... It was quaint. It was sweet. When can we do it again?"
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June 1st, 2014

"There certainly is beauty in sparseness and simplicity but that doesn’t always make for great theater. The piece seems somewhat purpose-less, uninspired, and frankly, rather dull."
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February 6th, 2015

"Time seems to stop — at least in the normal quotidian sense of its passage. Not just in their songs but in the uncommonly settled, placid presence of the four women in “Early Shaker Spirituals,” we seem transported to a space where temporal concepts no longer apply...I couldn’t say if this is spiritual ecstasy. But it’s transcendent."
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January 23rd, 2015

"It is the very austerity and rigorous minimalism of the show that eventually takes hold. Beginning with vaguely familiar hymns that are reminiscent of monodic Appalachian folk songs...With the addition of eerie harmonies and then, in the evening’s finale, reconstructed Shaker dances, "Early Shaker Spirituals" soars beyond a canny ethnomusicological evocation to become something more deeply poignant and wonderfully enchanting."
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January 28th, 2015

"Amid a cacophony of technologies competing for our attention it is downright remedial to take in The Wooster Group’s latest offering, a plain and exceedingly disciplined Early Shaker Spirituals: A Record Album Interpretation... If you ask me, it gave us an overdue respite from our fast-moving LA tumult."
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June 3rd, 2014

"There’s a meditative quality to this piece of work...Not much happens in hour–long production of Early Shaker Spirituals, but it’s a piece of theater that holds meaning in its lack of plot or narrative."
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February 6th, 2015

"Why also, the songs and interviews are not memorized and sung without relying on technology is also a bit of a curiosity. Did this contrast between high tech and low tech really add to the piece? You think not…but then you wonder if your expectations are now too high and you’ve begun waiting to find yourself “in the place just right” where everything is pure and white as snow. One thing is certain, you’ve been transported into a world."
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January 29th, 2015

"For most of the 50-minute piece, the five women in the cast sit like bodhisattvas on the stage, as static as canvases yet charged with electricity. Peaceful and yet ready to take flight, they feed us the world of these Shaker hymns with glorious precision. The slight turns and movements they make are carefully scripted, reading neither as “choreographed” nor as spilling out unconsciously from the actors’ bodies...The Wooster Group has a shaker-like gift of creating simple, potent, and essential theater."
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