The Head and the Load
Closed 1h 10m
The Head and the Load

The Head and the Load NYC Reviews and Tickets

(13 Ratings)
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.

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Show-Score Member Reviews (13)

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73 Reviews | 9 Followers
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. Read more

447 Reviews | 56 Followers
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.

524 Reviews | 83 Followers
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.

95 Reviews | 22 Followers
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. Read more

124 Reviews | 22 Followers
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.

398 Reviews | 120 Followers
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.

346 Reviews | 53 Followers
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. Read more

477 Reviews | 121 Followers
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. Read more

Critic Reviews (15)

The New York Times
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 relevance to today’s debates on the endurance of colonial legacies in our views of recent history."
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Time Out New York
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 exquisitely orchestrated to overwhelm us without any obvious sonic assault...On every level, 'The Head & the Load' is a feast."
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New York Magazine / Vulture
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 like a frenzied dream...I don’t mind....a nonlinear artistic experience, but when it feels like I’m supposed to be digesting a historical argument at the same time, my brain goes on the fritz.”
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The Wall Street Journal
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 on the screen behind, where they mix with video shadow images of other carriers, an endless parade of cannon fodder. But Kentridge ensures that these shadow people also have voices."
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December 5th, 2018

“Kentridge's production is overwhelming, forcing us to feel the immense weight of a subject few of us have ever paused to contemplate...Our heads dart from side to side trying to keep up with Maqoma's dynamic choreography, which synthesizes West African dance with military drills...The aural landscape is just as vast...The result is a violent cacophony that occasionally settles into harmony of unspeakable beauty.”
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Theater Pizzazz
December 12th, 2018

“A stunning artistic achievement on an overwhelming scale...Jaw-dropping spectacle...An enormous ‘installation art’ piece – a synthesis of music, movement, sculpture and shadow play...The visual impact is stunning...The effect is overwhelming...The marvelous multi-national performers’ names are too numerous to mention here. Please pay respects to their heroic artistic achievement, as they themselves honor the unsung heroes of the past.”
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Exeunt Magazine
December 9th, 2018

"The play covers so much ground it’s hard to describe it without making it sound like a crazy mishmash—it’s as much a living sculpture as a traditional play...The musical performers are all outstanding...As each new event within the performance unfolded, it felt like turning a new page in an old scrapbook, full of ephemera and odd snapshots of a lost world. If Kentridge’s intention is to expose the colonialists’ shameful conduct, he succeeds with this beautiful and poignant piece."
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New York Theater
December 5th, 2018

“An unusual and startling hybrid piece, where it uses a cacophony of words and images, music and dance to bring us the war as it played out in Africa...Powerful moments are interspersed throughout the bombardment of a show that presents history as chaos...The program offers...historical context...Without such grounding, one’s attention might drift. Yet it’s worth it, because a story so full of horror should not be lost to history, and because it’s being presented with such theatrical audacity.”
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