Hebrew School

Do it again: Christopher Williams @ Dance Theater Workshop

“you don’t have to be Catholic”

Sometimes, even in New York City, an evening of truly enjoyable performance is hard to come by. Somewhere in the mire of public transit, running into people you know, crowds of sweaty people in dank, cold spaces, coordinating busy schedules, and the sometimes obscure haze of an artist’s vision, a lot of perfectly good production suddenly goes meh.

You’d think more so when faced with the prospect of a three-hour piece chronicling the lives of medieval Christian saints: I mean, shit, sometimes it’s all I can do to devote three lunchtime minutes to someone’s Twitter account. And I don’t know if I’ll ever get the ants out of my pants to be able to sit down to an entire opera without leaving during intermission.

Not so with Christopher Williams’ latest triumph, The Golden Legend. Sixteen saints’ solos bookended by a pro- and recessional, a slew of live musicians (including Peter Kirn, Gregory Spears, and members of Lionheart and Anonymous 4), magical puppetry, eyeball-breaking costume design, genre-bending and rigorous contemporary movement underscored with narrative, plus a chance to look up someone’s ass and see Santa Claus: For the hours not to dissolve away effortlessly, you would have to be a sun-blind actual resident of the medieval world rather than the frenetic, media-saturated world from which we so desperately deserve escape.

At the end of the performance, I was tempted to rouse a cheer from the packed house and demand an encore.

Can you imagine, an encore of a work of that size and scope? I’m not exaggerating– that’s what I want.


Interview with Christopher Williams + 10 Questions [Dance Theater Workshop]

Lives and Deaths of Saints, and Puppets [New York Times]

Martyred men and medieval music [Metro]


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