The B-Side: "Negro Folklore from Texas State Prisons"
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The B-Side: "Negro Folklore from Texas State Prisons"
78

The B-Side: "Negro Folklore from Texas State Prisons" NYC Reviews and Tickets

78%
(34 Ratings)
Positive
82%
Mixed
18%
Negative
0%
Members say
Thought-provoking, Resonant, Great singing, Relevant, Absorbing

About the Show

The Wooster Group presents this piece based on performer Eric Berryman’s interest in the LP, 'Negro Folklore from Texas State Prisons,' recorded in 1964 by folklorist Bruce Jackson.

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Show-Score Member Reviews (34)

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803 Reviews | 253 Followers
90
Resonant, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Masterful, Exquisite

See it if 3 performers precisely use vocals & gestures to bring an album of work songs to life. Transports you to that time & place. Amazing.

Don't see it if You don't want to relate to prison slave laborers in the deep south. You don't like blues music. You want a traditional narrative.

104 Reviews | 39 Followers
90
Ambitious, Enchanting, Great acting, Intense, Must see

See it if You are willing to actively engage with performance

Don't see it if Avant-garde theatre doesn't agree with you Read more

649 Reviews | 154 Followers
89
Engaging, Intimate, Powerful, Thought-provoking, Great singing

See it if 3 actors/singers channeling the music & soul of Black prisoners serving hard labor in 1960's Texas. Powerful, moving, haunting, absorbing.

Don't see it if you prefer verbal storytelling comprised of a beginning, middle and end. Here, the singing and the songs tell the story. Beautifully done.

414 Reviews | 70 Followers
89
Moving, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Intelligent, Absorbing

See it if you like unusual theatrical experiences - 3 performers sing along to a record (only their voices are heard) of work songs/spirituals/blues*

Don't see it if you don't like minimalist sets or nontraditional theater; want flash and happy Read more

71 Reviews | 9 Followers
86
Thought-provoking, Refreshing, Profound, Great singing, Ambitious

See it if you have an open mind to what theatre can be (i.e. not just a play or musical).

Don't see it if you're expecting a plot and story in the traditional sense.

342 Reviews | 53 Followers
85
A perfect little gem, Transporting, Moving

See it if "You've got to hear this album. I'll sing along with some friends. Southern prison work songs. It will move you."

Don't see it if This is not a play. It's a man playing a record and singing along. Slow. But it's as slow as it ought to be. Read more

182 Reviews | 19 Followers
85
Resonant, Great singing, Enchanting, Ambitious, Absorbing

See it if BLM hits experimental theater! I enjoyed this much more than Early Shaker Spirituals, it's inspiration. If you're open to different theater.

Don't see it if You want a conventional story, but then why go to to St Anns or the Wooster group? . I would have liked a little more context however.

WH
448 Reviews | 88 Followers
83
Thought-provoking, Profoundly simple, An auditory immersion, Resonant, Great singing

See it if You appreciate vocal, a Capella music. Like American history told evocatively. Want to learn about the Black prisoner experience in Texas..

Don't see it if Need linearity in story-telling. Want a full blown, highly stylized production.

Critic Reviews (8)

Theatermania
March 4th, 2019

"The production as a whole falls short of its designation as an 'interpretation,' landing more accurately within the less exciting realm of 're-creation'...Berryman is joined by Jasper McGruder and Philip Moore, whose voices add presence and richness to the performance. But even that fullness of sound loses its vitality as the piece reveals itself as a slow march through both the A-side and B-side of this album, made only more stilted by Berryman's album-cover readings that introduce each song."
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Lighting & Sound America
March 5th, 2019

"A haunting hour in the theatre...Berryman's voice seems to pierce the veil of the past, making the sorrows (and everyday horrors) of another time unsettlingly immediate; when he slips into character to introduce a number or perform a spoken piece, the transformation is instantaneous and complete...The songs are strangely beautiful, even when detailing the ugliest facts of life...This exquisitely shaped serving of raw material stunningly demonstrates how pain can be transmuted into art."
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Exeunt Magazine
March 6th, 2019

“It’s an impressive, bravura piece of acting and singing on Berryman’s part, but there’s a pervading sense of something hollow looming over the show..For the final track...As he listens...His relationship with the record is clear, and it’s a chilling, effective moment. But it’s too brief. The passion of this man for this music reaches its apex when he is just silently appreciating it, which places a larger question mark behind the theatrics before it.”
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New York Theater
March 7th, 2019

"For all the similarities in rhythm, there is much underlying variety to these songs, and, beneath the simplicity, some striking nuance...Somehow, during this 21st century karaoke, as the three men on stage reproduced the singing...their live voices eerily took on the feel of an old record, a testament both to the singers and to the sound design. And 'The B-side' seemed to embody what’s become an overused word: authenticity."
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Stage Buzz
March 14th, 2019

"Berryman in particular does an excellent job with the material...The only major problem is that it’s sometimes hard to clearly hear all of the song lyrics when the record is being played, and thus fully comprehend their meaning...Kate Valk’s direction works fine, the show and songs nicely segueing from one track to the next. Though the last few bands are presented without any narration; the use of which would have been helpful to make thing just a bit more complete and well-rounded."
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The New York Times
October 31st, 2017
For a previous production

"Music seldom sounds more exciting than when you’re introduced to it through the ears of a passionate fan...That’s the experience, heightened to the point of transcendence, that’s on offer in the Wooster Group’s extraordinary ‘The B-Side’...Ms. Valk and a design team have brought a rigorous elegance and clarity...This is music that feels viral not in the technological sense of current usage, but in the sense of residing in the bloodstream."
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Time Out New York
October 30th, 2017
For a previous production

"As efficient as the swing of an axe, 'The B-Side' is many things at once: a concert, a tribute to the vanished dead, a vivid evocation of the past...It seems that this kind of performative memorialization is the great gift of the Wooster Group...Although the Woosters’ tech-forward avant-gardism has sometimes seemed aggressive, it is revealing itself, in this rough world, as consistently, heartbreakingly gentle."
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The Washington Post
October 31st, 2017
For a previous production

“A ravishing new show...A richly resonant auditory experience. That impression is amplified by Berryman, Moore, and McGruder harmonizing with the recording in masterly fashion...The experience is history in melody, an a cappella song cycle that reveals how men sentenced to hard labor endured, forging bonds through music...This is an hour of listening for any audience anywhere that wants its spirits lifted even as its conscience is stirred.”
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