Already closed | 1h 20m | East Village

The Transfiguration Of Benjamin Banneker

From 24 member  reviews
Members say: Great staging, Ambitious, Clever, Entertaining, Resonant

About the show

This experimental, multi-disciplinary spectacle celebrates the life of Benjamin Banneker, a free black man living in Maryland from 1731 to 1806. More…

From the show:

The Transfiguration of Benjamin Banneker is a multi-disciplinary spectacle with a marching band, 12-foot puppets, shadow puppetry and moving projection screens. The band is an award-winning group, the Soul Tigers, young men and women who attend Benjamin Banneker High School in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.

This event celebrates the life of Benjamin Banneker, a free black man living in Maryland from 1731 to 1806, who taught himself mathematics and astronomy, and made important scientific discoveries. In addition to Banneker's life, students from the high school contribute autobiographical material to the performance and will participate alongside professional performers.

Member Reviews (24)


Great staging, Ambitious, Clever, Entertaining, Resonant
Avg Score

Disappointing, Indulgent, Ambitious, Banal

See it if If you want more of a history than a play. Some good acting, and multi visual. If you like a story rather than a play.

Don't see it if Show is all over the place andslow at times. If you do not like puppetry. If you want a traditional more focused play.

Visually enthralling, Inclusive, Important, Informative, Delightful

See it if you are interested in unusual scenography or the history of race in the US.

Don't see it if you do not like puppets or you require a traditional scripted drama.

Also Theodora Skipitares has been a force in downtown theater for decades, ... Read more Read less

Great staging, Intelligent, Relevant, Entertaining, Clever

See it if you like learning while pleasantly being entertained with good song, dance, puppetry, animation, narration, acting and a marching band!

Don't see it if you want a traditional biographical play. Here the action is varied, and perhaps the drum music sometimes too loud and long for some.

Informative, Enchanting, Energetic, Great puppets, Imaginative

See it if you treasure creativity. Young cast uses dance & acrobatics to highlight their unique puppetry to share Banneker’s life & influence today

Don't see it if you are interested in a narrow focus biography of Benjamin Banneker. The information is here but this had a much wider scope

Disappointing, Slow, Resonant, Intelligent, Great staging

See it if You want a history lesson instead of a play as told through a narrator and puppets then this might be for you.

Don't see it if you are looking for a play with dramatic interaction, this is not it.

Also The puppets are fantastic but the level of sophistication in the story... Read more Read less

Great use of light, Great puppets, Great choreography, Ambitious, Disappointing

See it if you want to see High School students perform excellently whether in choreography, puppetry or drum line. Excellent use of multimedia.

Don't see it if you want to see a well written play. The narrative is all over the place. Often repetitive, misogynistic and totally unfocused.

Also If I was scoring this as a short movie (what I often felt I was watchi... Read more Read less

Relevant, Great staging, Entertaining, Clever

See it if you want to see a wonderful Brooklyn high school production from some talented young people on a significant African-American figure.

Don't see it if You do not like puppetry and a marching band on stage.

Also Kudos to these very talented high school students from Brooklyn who br... Read more Read less

Weak narrative, Talented marching band, Beautiful puppetry

See it if you are interested in a less known important historical figure that deserves much more attention

Don't see it if you don't like "downtown" theater; would not find exquisite puppets & props & a talented drum crew enough to sustain your interest

Also I love great puppet performance and so I was reasonably content, but t... Read more Read less

Interesting set and costumes along with the masks, Great music great band, Entertaining, Clever

See it if You’re interested in an exciting music filled evening with an interesting true life storyline

Don't see it if Your disturbed by loud music And not too fond of non-traditional theater

Absorbing, Great staging, Enchanting, Delightful, Clever

See it if you are open to seeing a wonderful multimedia production including puppets, dancing, and historical drama staged so creatively.Fun, fun, fun

Don't see it if you are not open to an imaginative look at a great historical black figure who does math and astronomy expertly as a forgotten hero.

Resonant, Relevant, Clever, Great staging, Entertaining

See it if you are interested in a super well done performance by a Brooklyn High School (I believe) about a black scientist I loved to learn about.

Don't see it if you don't like puppets or marching bands in theater plays.

Also Definitely unusual performance style, but it worked and we really enjo... Read more Read less

Uneven, Delightful, Ambitious

See it if into an extravaganza about a 18th-century black scientist and his legacy

Don't see it if expecting "a play"; prefering Serious to Charming

Also This is unique and a creative if a bit messy, utilizing a never-ending... Read more Read less

Clever, Creative, Entertaining, Relevant, Refreshing

See it if You enjoy seeing young people create and perform in a show. Puppetry, dance, drums, and singing all in telling us a part of history

Don't see it if You are looking for a big broadway production. It’s young people working well together in the magic of theater. It’s good to support them.

A name that belongs on all history books, A joyous celebration of an african american self-taught genius, A multi-media thunderous fun fest!!!, Enchanting

See it if You enjoy biographical innovative story-telling told in narrative, drum voices, dynamic dance, and beautiful puppeteering performances.

Don't see it if loud drumming marching band sound and multi-media, creative, original story-telling is not your style.

Also Wow, what an amazing experience seeing this show was! It started with ... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Confusing, Great staging

See it if you’re interested in seeing actors & talented HS students work together to create an evening of theater, including drummers, dancers & more.

Don't see it if if you require a well thought-out script, and a fully polished production.

Also The play highlights the stories of black men who achieve success beyon... Read more Read less

Puppets, dancers, drum battle, the story of a lesser known genius

See it if You like history told in a unique, multidisciplinary, exciting performance.

Don't see it if You are looking for a big Broadway musical.

Thought-provoking, Resonant, Intelligent, Great staging, Ambitious

See it if You like multimedia work & shows that contain a resonant message about the African American experience in the US.

Don't see it if The African American experience in the US doesn't interest you, you don't like multimedia shows.

Quirky, Fluffy, Disappointing, Confusing

See it if you want to see an unprofessional "history lesson production"

Don't see it if your time is better spent elsewhere. the story is interesting but the narrative is all over the are the visuals.

Moving, beautiful,eerie and artful exploration of benjamin banneker's life and blacks in science

See it if You appreciate history, inventive theater, stunning visuals, amazing puppets, fab marching band, great collaborative and thoughtful tapestry

Don't see it if You want linear storytelling, high polish.

Also Ideal La MaMa production--combines theater with community.

Slow, Thought-provoking, Resonant, Great staging, Ambitious

See it if You like puppetry, marching band percussion, stories about people of color.

Don't see it if You don't like loud music, you like more acting, less narration.

Good use of multi-media and puppetry, story not fleshed out well enough, earnest but amateurish, disappointing but entertaining in parts, imaginative

See it if you’d enjoy earnest, creative but not always well articulated stories about episodes in black history.

Don't see it if you’re looking for sophisticated story telling, aren’t interested in the black experience, don’t like loud music or hour long performances.

Also This piece has a lot of heart and they were quite creative with what I... Read more Read less

Great staging, Ambitious, Entertaining

See it if you like out-of-the-box productions. This is a fantastic combination of puppetry, dance and music telling an interesting story.

Don't see it if You want a linear plot. The performance is short, a little over and hour, but a lot is packed in

Unique, Thought-provoking, Intelligent, Ambitious, Clever

See it if you enjoy original and inventive ways of presenting theatre. Puppets and a Marching Band. Excellent.

Don't see it if expect linear storytelling and don't enjoy imaginative offerings.

Great staging, Enchanting, Delightful, Clever, Absorbing

See it if you like puppetry, earnest staging, and seeing history refracted through a kaleidoscope of dance, music, and objects.

Don't see it if you're expecting a straightforward plot. This is more a collection of short, tangentially related segments.

Also The cast of this show really carry this to somewhere nice and exciting... Read more Read less

January 26th, 2020
"‘The Transfiguration of Benjamin Banneker’ Review: An Unwieldy Ride A tale about the 18th-century African-American mathematician includes actors, a vibrant marching band and wackadoo puppetry."
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January 27th, 2020
"A euphoric fantasia about the obscure 18th century African-American astronomer and renaissance man using puppetry, dance, spoken word and a marching band."
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January 25th, 2020
"In this gorgeous, enlightening and ambitious -- if over-stuffed -- hour-long theatrical collage, Theodora Skipitares uses the eerie visual splendor of puppetry to illuminate…the fascinating and little known story….a kaleidoscopic look at African-Americans and space exploration."
read more

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Cast & Creatives (2)