Already closed | 1h 10m | Upper E Side

The Head and the Load

From 13 member  reviews
Members say: Ambitious, Great staging, Epic, Absorbing, Masterful

About the show

Part installation, part performance piece, South African artist William Kentridge's new multi-media work uses music, dance, and film in its exploration of apartheid, colonialism, and totalitarianism. More…

This processional musical journey melds performances by orchestra collective The Knights, and an international ensemble cast of singers, dancers, and performers accompanied by a chorus of mechanized gramophones alongside multiple film projections and shadow play to create a landscape of immense proportion and imagination that utilizes the vast sweep of the Wade Thompson Drill to upend standard notions of scale.

Member Reviews (13)


Ambitious, Great staging, Epic, Absorbing, Masterful
Avg Score

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great singing, Great staging, Masterful

See it if you want to see a unique multimedia piece about the overlooked role of Africans in WWI, with music, dance, projections and shadow play.

Don't see it if don't like edgy theater without a traditional structure.

Also It apparently has gained 20 minutes since London. At 90 minutes, it se... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Epic, Great staging, Intelligent, Masterful

See it if you enjoy extravagant multi-media shows that convey their message without a conventional linear script.

Don't see it if you prefer conventional theater.

Enchanting, Confusing

See it if Like a modern (projection, shadows, dance) opera (non-English singing/sounds) of all the unknown black bodies lost in WWI serving colonizers

Don't see it if No real plot, more about the feels. Some parts get artsy fartsy and long. Need good vision to see the warehouse-long stage.

Also Ticket with a discount from a friend who works there for $28.

Absorbing, Great staging, Intelligent, Riveting, Thought-provoking

See it if You want to see a piece about the rarely heard of role of Africans in WW1. It is performance art with singing, music, and shadow art.

Don't see it if You like a linear play. This is something completely different. So beautiful in its rendering of the suffering of the Africans in WW1.

Absorbing, Great staging, Relevant, Epic

See it if Grand scale of historical significance presented in multimedia. Armory is a fascinating backdrop in architecture and history.

Don't see it if Need to be spoon fed, you'll go hungry.

Thought-provoking, Epic staging, Moving, Dreamlike

See it if You are open to multi-media pageants on a grand scale . The subject is Africa in WWI and the decimation of the native population.

Don't see it if It is not linear, it has no plot to speak of, it is very impressionistic and deals with war and oppression.

Also Another fever-dream of a production that fills the Park Avenue Armory ... Read more Read less

Resonant, Intense, Masterful, Must see

See it if Gorgeous. Imagistic opera in 4+ languages, taking viewers on an intense trip of African porters during WWI. Almost 40 singers and musicians

Don't see it if Entry-level tickets are fairly expensive, but are there worth it? A definite yes.

Great staging, Masterful, Profound

See it if You like experimental theater and story telling in non chronological order.

Don't see it if If you enjoy more conventional format.

Also Amazing staging and acting. Left me speechless.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Clever, Exquisite, Epic

See it if If you know who William Kentridge is - run until there's still tickets. It's an electrifying collage of imagery and ideas.

Don't see it if you don't know who Kentridge is, you probably won't enjoy it much. It's a theater of absurd.

Also This is the theater of absurd so usual measures are hardly applicable ... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Excruciating, Overrated

See it if If you want to see the work of William Kentridge.

Don't see it if If you want more than an accumulation of images and ideas that don’t cohere into any discernible story.

Also I like William Kentridge’s charcoal drawings and animation. The Head a... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Confusing, Epic

See it if Provides glimpses of an under reported history of WWI in Africa Great vocal performances and costume Clever visual effects

Don't see it if A bit disjointed and the seating staging relationship leaves you far from the action at times

Ambitious, Confusing, Indulgent

See it if See if you think Bowie's Lazarus was to simple.

Don't see it if You don't want to see a Talosin spin on a turntable for 3 minutes in background without explanation

Also Artist/playwright's father could tell a story. Apple rolled off a clif... Read more Read less

Intense, Dizzying, Epic

See it if You must know what all the fuss is about You enjoy grand fragented spectacles like Robert Wilson or the Circus Art theater is ok by

Don't see it if You expect traditional drama with narrative and character, climax and denouement

December 6th, 2018
"A fiercely beautiful historical pageant of music, movement and shadow play that reanimates these lost African combatants, who principally served as porters under British, French, Belgian and German command...This musical work is a more pressing, even ferocious production, with immediate relevanc...
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December 6th, 2018
"To give you a sense of the stupendous scale of William Kentridge’s 'The Head & the Load' at the Park Avenue Armory: I watched it, rapt, for an hour and a half, and I completely missed an entire marching band and a set piece the size of a baby elephant...The frenzy of beautiful noise has been exq...
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December 7th, 2018
“Grand, sad, and ferociously disjointed...A 90-minute collage that, if it doesn’t rattle you into existential despair, may at least send you to consult Wikipedia to see what the whole thing’s about...’The Head and the Load’ explodes complicated history into so many urgent fragments that it feels ...
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December 10th, 2018
"A superb assemblage of performers is juxtaposed against giant drawn, animated or historical video images...In Kentridge’s collage style, disparate elements are layered to create a powerful unity. In one indelible scene, the shadows of a procession of people carrying the materials of war are cast...
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