Closed 1h 10m
The Head and the Load
Upper E Side
83

The Head and the Load NYC Reviews and Tickets

83%
(13 Reviews)
Positive
84%
Mixed
8%
Negative
8%
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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Member Reviews (13)

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86
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

91
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.

Critic Reviews (15)

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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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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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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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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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 go...to pay respects to their heroic artistic achievement, as they themselves honor the unsung heroes of the past.”
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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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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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December 6th, 2018

“Kentridge’s remarkable multimedia piece about the overlooked role of Africans in World War I...The large cast is excellent without exception. The stage is so wide that it is almost impossible to take in everything that is going on at any given moment. I doubt that anyone would understand the events depicted without reading about them in the program...Nevertheless, it’s a truly unique experience that should not be missed by the adventurous.”
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O
December 12th, 2018

“Kentridge enlists our sympathies for the fallen African men and women through exquisite and disturbing tableaus of beauty. It is an achievement of a lifetime...The audience is invited to witness a grand procession of song, recitation, dance, image and music...’The Head and The Load’ is a spectacle and a pageant of grand scale, yet its refined execution, inspired imagination and poignant messages reach us with the quiet heart of an intimate chamber music experience.”
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July 12th, 2018
For a previous production

"An electrifying collage of imagery and ideas. Remembering those whose deaths were often left unrecorded, it finds its own rich language for incomprehension, its own ways of visualising those who were unseen....'The Head & the Load' is superbly orchestrated. Holding multiple elements in play, Kentridge and his collaborators open out the complexities of each situation while driving the performance forward."
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July 12th, 2018
For a previous production

"The fragmented language ultimately coalesces with extraordinary elegance and emotional and visceral power. Kentridge’s multimedia language is brought vividly into three dimensions in marvellous collisions between his animated drawings, the silhouettes of performers, and their raw presence on stage...No one really knows how many Africans perished but it was in the hundreds of thousands. Kentridge et al have created a masterpiece to mark this shaming tragedy."
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July 12th, 2018
For a previous production

"The imaginative landscape of 'The Head and the Load' is a stimulating jumble, a collage of ideas, words, music, dance (a poignant male duet), film projections, mechanised sculptures and shadow play...The creative team is amazing...This is a typical William Kentridge project mixing multiple artistic disciplines with political art, with his anti-apartheid and anti-colonialism sentiments...To say I am a fan is an understatement."
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July 12th, 2018
For a previous production

"William Kentridge is a multi-talented political artist – there’s no doubt about that. But understandably, there were some initial reservations about a cisgender white male telling such a story. However Kentridge alongside his team really pushed back against the narrative we’re told of the World Wars and beautifully brings voices to the voiceless...Action, historical accuracy, food for thought and entertainment all collide to make one epic kaleidoscopic masterpiece."
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T
July 11th, 2018
For a previous production

"Trying to capture four years of conflict and the role of the carriers from across the African continent on both the African continent and the Western Front in 70 minutes would be a challenge for most. In all, one can only expect the essence to be conveyed and this was aptly done. Although I did wonder to what extent someone with limited knowledge of Africa’s involvement in the war would have been able to make connections."
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