HERE Arts Center presents this electronic, psychedelic opera-sermon set in a cosmic radio station in the afterlife of the Thomas Paine, the Founding Father and international activist. More…
In 'Thomas Paine in Violence,' Paine struggles to broadcast a message of economic justice amidst a whirlwind of lightning-quick singing, autotuned shock-jockery, gadgets, voices, instruments, and sonic chaos.
"The incomparable La Barbara has a presence that’s both enigmatic and regal...Occasionally, I felt lost in a flood of information and sensory stimuli. Fortunately there are enough moments of substance that can pull one back from these distractions...It's a thoughtful piece that entertains before making a lasting, more serious impression...The piece will kindle your interest in Paine’s political theories." Full Review
"It’s a haunting performance, one that causes us to lean in and demands attention be paid...Pinto and Burkhardt do right by never taking the material too seriously or talking down to their audience and there is an enormous amount of fun to be had...What starts out seeming like an amusing vocal exercise slowly becomes a heartbreaking and arresting modern translation of Paine’s revolutionary words." Full Review
See it if You're looking for something that's going to take you outside of your theatrical comfort zone.
Don't see it if You're looking for a traditional opera/play, or if you need a linear narrative in order to enjoy a show.
See it if you are a fan of the avante garde and enjoy extremely non-traditional theatre
Don't see it if you are scared of anything non-traditional, don’t like being in total darkness or flashing lights, or prefer standard melodies
See it if you appreciate experimental/new music (musical language I've not encountered before); you like the great Joan La Babara; you're adventurous
Don't see it if you're not prepared to leave conventional notions of melody and meaning at the door; you dislike avant-garde structure, or irreverent wit
See it if You want to be mildly confused (in a good way) for 75 minutes, like absurdist theater, want a bizarre futuristic look at Thomas Paine
Don't see it if The term "synth-opera" sounds like torture to you (because it is indeed a synth-opera), if loud, disjointed sounds/lights bother you
See it if experimental theater or social commentary interest you. Both a political indictment of class warfare & entertaining vocal gymnastics!
Don't see it if you want a typical theater experience. Wild mix of spoken word & avant garde operatics. Much of production occurs in the dark with strobes.
See it if You enjoy keeping pace with dense lyrics and are excited about seeing diverse faces doing new work.
Don't see it if Abstract concepts, overlapping/repeating/oftentimes aggressive vocals, experimental work isn't your cup of tea.
See it if You love Joan La Barbara, you're interested in non-narrative contemporary composition, you love Thomas Paine but can let him go tonight
Don't see it if You want an opera - this is not a story - or you want a coherent treatment of Paine's thought. There are allusions but it is frustrating.
See it if You enjoy performance art or shows that come at you loud and in your face. The performances are full of energy and interesting.
Don't see it if You expect to learn anything about Thomas Paine or experience any of his many profound quotes. This is more about interesting performance.
See it if You really like abstract interpretations of early American philosopher’s work, being confused, and avant-garde theater.
Don't see it if You like shows with coherent threads of plot, shows that serve a purpose beyond fulfilling the randomest of ideas, or that are entertaining.
See it if You don’t need any plot, enjoy random singing/movement, or don’t mind loud noises.
Don't see it if You want a show to make sense or loud noises/flashing lights startle you.
See it if The direction is brilliant and the design is magnificent. Effective set, spot on lighting and sound, male performers are charming.
Don't see it if "Music" is incomprehensible/inaccessible. Lead just read her lines at us the whole show as she glared with no acting. Rant sans plot.
See it if You are a lighting designer- the effects and lighting were great!
Don't see it if You aren’t interested in political banter for an hour and a half. The show is futuristic and extremely strange as well.
See it if You like opera that sounds like a Pinter play meets Aaron Sorkin meets Kubrick. But without a plot or great ideas.
Don't see it if You expect music. There isn't any. Just screaming and noise and electro pop performance art. Hugely dissapointed.
See it if You love abstract art with incomprehensible electronic noise.
Don't see it if You expect to have anything to hold on to, doesn't need to be a plot but it should at least be enjoyable. This was painful.
See it if You like performance art that tries way too hard. I was appaled at how many good artists could do such terrible source material.
Don't see it if Hate repetitive ranting that speaks down to you. It is a manifesto by someone who does not treat an audience with respect. Joyless.
See it if This show doesn't live in any of the worlds it claims to be in. It's not an opera, it's not experimental theater, it's not abstract.
Don't see it if You expect this work to live up to its surrealist wild expectations.
See it if You like avant garde, experimental preachy ranting that relies on nonsensical bravado. The staging is beautiful but show is unwatchable.
Don't see it if An opera without a single melody. Its spoken dialogue in metre with no story as an older woman reads lines from an iPad from the ceiling.
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