Early Shaker Spirituals
Closed 0h 50m
Early Shaker Spirituals

Early Shaker Spirituals NYC Reviews and Tickets

(9 Ratings)
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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Show-Score Member Reviews (9)

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683 Reviews | 161 Followers
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.

260 Reviews | 55 Followers
Delightful, Intelligent, Intense, Quirky, Resonant

See it if You like something totally unique. Or Frances McDormand.

Don't see it if You don’t like very precious productions.

180 Reviews | 44 Followers
Absorbing, Intelligent, Funny, Slow

See it if you enjoy the exploration of ritual

Don't see it if you want your theatre with a hefty dose of narrative Read more

688 Reviews | 116 Followers
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

104 Reviews | 37 Followers
Ambitious, Dizzying, Masterful, Intelligent, Absorbing

See it if You view theatre as aesthetic experience rather than dramatic experience.

Don't see it if You don't like the avant garde.

546 Reviews | 64 Followers
Absorbing, Entertaining, Intelligent

See it if Want to see/hear something different, short, and get an idea of what these spirituals are all about.

Don't see it if I think one either love this or hates this. Interesting to "see" a staging of a musical album for historic purposes.

102 Reviews | 23 Followers
Quiet, Specific, Abstract, Memory

See it if You want to bring the memory of the extinct female Shaker community alive through an exploration of simplicity.

Don't see it if You can't sit through abstract theatre.

46 Reviews | 7 Followers
Interesting, Different, Educational, Thought-provoking, Absorbing

See it if you're interested in learning/experiencing what is was to be a Shaker, or simply what it's like to experience/live in the world differently.

Don't see it if you need arc, plot or drama.

Critic Reviews (12)

The New York Times
May 29th, 2014
For a previous production

"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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Time Out New York
May 27th, 2014
For a previous production

"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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The Hollywood Reporter
April 26th, 2015
For a previous production

"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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Los Angeles Times
January 22nd, 2015
For a previous production

"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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The Huffington Post
April 26th, 2015
For a previous production

"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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Manhattan Digest
June 1st, 2014
For a previous production

"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
For a previous production

"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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LA Weekly
January 23rd, 2015
For a previous production

"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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