Already closed | 0h 50m | Soho/Tribeca

Early Shaker Spirituals

From 9 member  reviews
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. More…

'Early Shaker Spirituals' returns to an artistic practice that the Wooster Group has used throughout its history: working with record albums as source material for original productions. The piece also investigates the Shakers, a millenarian, celibate, communitarian sect. In 1980, Elizabeth LeCompte, Kate Valk, and other members of the company visited the Sabbathday Lake Shaker community and met with Sister R. Mildred Barker. Around that time, the company first began listening to the record album that forms the basis for this new piece.

0h 50m | Already closed | The Performing Garage (Soho/Tribeca)

Member Reviews (9)


Absorbing, Intelligent, Great staging, Riveting, Resonant
Avg Score

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

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

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

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

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.

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

Also While the first half of Kate Valk's show is visually stagnant (just li... Read more Read less

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.

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.

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.

For a previous production
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.

For a previous production
Great staging, Original, Resonant, Riveting

See it if You like dance, experiments in theatre, master female artists

Don't see it if You want a clear message, dialogue, dramatic action

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 centur...
read more
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. "...
read more
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."
read more
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 ...
read more

Related content