Rediscover Paradise Lost in Second Life, and enter a L$20K prize pool contest

In 2014, Paradise Lost: The story of Adam and Eve’s Original Sin was, for me, the performance art event of Second Life. conceived, produced and directed by the creative pairing of Harvey Crabsticks and Canary Beck and staged by the Basilique Performing Arts Company.

This was a production that I was privileged to see in development, including spending time with both Canary and Harvey in conversation about how the production developed from the experiences they gained producing  Romeo + Juliet. When I later reviewed the production and referred to it as a masterpiece of performance art in SL, I did so without hyperbole.

In essence, Paradise Lost combined John Milton’s blank verse epic of the same name with the music of the Süssmayr completion of Mozart’s Requiem Mass in D minor. And I’ll say again without any exaggeration at all, that those who did not manage to see the production on stage truly missed out on something extraordinary. HOWEVER – there’s now an opportunity to make up for things!

Iconic scene: Satan's fall and arrival in hell
Iconic scene: Satan’s fall and arrival in hell – Paradise Lost by the Basilique Performing Arts Company, 2014

At 12:00 noon SLT on Saturday September 19th, 2015, registered guests will be able to watch the specially commissioned Paradise Lost: The Movie. Filmed and produced by Forren Ashford, and featuring the cast and original sets from the production, all directed by Canary Beck, the film captures the full 2-hour production for posterity on video.

To  see the film, all you need to do is register your e-mail address to be a part of this very special event. The film will be shown via Canary’s own website, canarybeck.com, but only to those who have pre-registered.

L$20,000 Prize Pool Contest

WindlightTo mark the film’s première and in association with Windlight Magazine, Canary has launched a special photography contest, with a total prize pool of L$20,000 plus special media service awards to the top entries worth an additional L$10,00.

Taken together, the prizes are:

  • 1st Place Photo – L$ 5,000, a 2-page story in Windlight Magazine together with a double page ad; and 1 month’s exhibition space at the Windlight Gallery
  • 2nd Place Photo – L$ 3,000, a  Windlight blog article and one double page ad
  • 3rd Place Photo – L$2,000, and one double page ad in Windlight Magazine
  • Additional awards 10x L$1000 for the best scene photos.

For full details on how to enter, together with guidelines, rules, judging and  prize awards, please refer to the competition webpage.

All entries must be posted to the official Paradise Lost Flickr group. Note that for scene awards, entries will be selected each week, so entries should be uploaded before the sets change (as indicated in the competition page schedule). Weekly winners will be announced via canarybeck.com and via social media, and will be informed directly via Flickr messaging.

The grand prize winner will by announced on Saturday, October 24th via the same means.

Good luck to all who enter – and don’t forget to register to see the movie!

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Paradise Lost: your last chance to see live

image via Canary Beck
image via Canary Beck

During 2014, I’ve waxed lyrical over the Basilique Performing Arts Company’s production of Paradise Lost: The story of Adam and Eve’s original sin – and with good reason.

It really is that good.

The production, which presents John Milton’s epic blank verse poem Paradise Lost to dance and the music of the Süssmayr completion of Mozart’s Requiem in D Minor, is a masterpiece of Second Life performance art and theatre which really should not be missed.

Nor am I alone in this summation – there have been over 80 reviews of the production written during its two season run.

Satan and followers, post fall, amidst the fires of hell, Paradise Lost Premiere, April 2014
Satan and followers, post fall, amidst the fires of hell, Paradise Lost Premiere, April 2014

However, all good things must draw to a close, and this coming Sunday, September 21st, 2014, marks the final planned public performance of the production, which originally been set to run through until the end of October; however, the last four dates for the second season run will now take place behind closed doors while the entire production is filmed for posterity.

So if you’ve not taken the opportunity to see this magnificent production first-hand – and if you in any way love theatre, art, Milton’s works, Mozart’s Requiem, performing arts in SL or any  / all of the previous, then believe me, you will want to – there is still time to grab a ticket for this final performance from the SL Marketplace.

To get a feel for the complexity of this production, you can read my candid chat with the creative team behind Paradise Lost, Canary Beck and Harvey Crabsticks. There’s also the very excellent Drax Files World Makers segment, which focused on the production, and which I’ll finish with here to whet your appetites further!

Related links

Paradise Lost: second season announced

image via Canary Beck
image via Canary Beck

Paradise Lost: The story of Adam and Eve’s original sin, the stunning production by the Basilique Performing Arts company, which ran from April through June in its first season run will be returning in August for a second season, commencing August 2nd, 2014.

The news came via an announcement on Canary Beck’s blog on Tuesday July 15th, together with a link to the box office on the SL Marketplace.

Paradise Lost is a stunning production, which sets John Milton’s epic blank verse poem Paradise Lost to dance and the music of the Süssmayr completion of Mozart’s Requiem in D Minor. All performances will commence at 13:30 SLT on the following alternate Saturdays and Sundays  through August to October:

  • August: Saturday 2nd, 16th and 30th; Sunday 10th and 24th
  • September: Saturday 21st; Sunday 7th
  • October: Saturday October 11th and 25th; Sunday October 5th and 19th.

I was privileged, along with a number of other bloggers,  to be able to preview the production  ahead of the first season run. I also had the opportunity to join the creative team behind the production, Canary Beck and Harvey Crabsticks, in conversation about the production’s genesis and technical aspects. So I can say hand-on-heart that my description of the production as “an outstanding masterpiece of performance art in SL” is no exaggeration; Paradise Lost is truly an extraordinary piece, one not to be missed.

So, if you didn’t manage to see the production during its inaugural season, I strongly encourage you to set aside one of the dates listed above and get your ticket(s) now, particularly as, if the original run is anything to go by, they are liable to sell out fast.

Satan prepares to tempt Eve as Adam rests, Paradise lost
Satan prepares to tempt Eve as Adam rests, Paradise lost

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Speak again, bright angel! Romeo+Juliet set to return to SL

poster

I’ve been following the work of the Basilique Performing Arts Company for a while now, and with good reason. Their work stands at the forefront of performing arts within Second Life featuring ambitious, cutting-edge productions which engage and enthrall. So much so that their masterful production of Paradise Lost: The story of Adam and Eve’s original sin, which runs through until the end of June, is completely sold-out.

Now comes word that their inaugural production, Romeo+Juliet, is set to return for a special 3-date early summer season, ahead of a full 2014 season’s run commencing in August.

The three special performances come courtesy of the Linden Endowment for the Arts, and will take place in a purpose-built setting on LEA14, designed and built by the production’s directors, Canary Beck and Harvey Crabsticks.

"Two households, both alike in dignity, In fair Verona, where we lay our scene ..." Verona (foreground) and the playhouse beyond, LEA14, Romeo+Juliet
“Two households, both alike in dignity, In fair Verona, where we lay our scene …” Verona (foreground) and the playhouse beyond. LEA14, Romeo+Juliet

The centrepiece of this is the playhouse where the performances will take place, located on a high plateau and surrounded by lush countryside. Around this lay four locations central to the unfolding story of tragic love: the town of Verona; the Capulet mansion; Mantua, the place to which Romeo retreats when the Prince proclaims him to be exiled from Verona, and the Capulet’s chapel, wherein the two lovers are reunited in death.

Visitors to the region are invited to explore the various settings, either before or after each of the performances, or any time on days when no performance is scheduled. Signposts have been placed throughout to help guide people between the various locations.

"What lady is that, which doth enrich the hand Of yonder knight?" The Capulet mansion, where Romeo first encounters Juliet. LEA14, Romeo+Juliet
“What lady is that, which doth enrich the hand Of yonder knight?” The Capulet mansion, where Romeo first encounters Juliet. LEA14, Romeo+Juliet

As the name suggests, Romeo + Juliet, which I reviewed here, presents Shakespeare’s famous play about star-crossed lovers in a brilliant mix of renaissance-inspired sets, 1940s costumes, and contemporary music from the likes of Nat King Cole, Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman, Michael Buble, Jack Black, Carl Douglas, Queen and more. With a nod towards Baz Luhrmann and a rich weaving of music and dance as the means by which the unfolding story is largely told, the production is unique and fully engages the audience.

For the performance at LEA14 and the upcoming full season, Romeo+Juliet hold something special for audiences. “We’ve completely remastered it from the ground up,” Canary told me when she contacted me to let me know about the LEA dates. “We have redone the show with the new techniques and technology that we’ve learned as a result of Paradise Lost, and it’s better for it.” Hence why the new production has a “2.0” in it!

So even if you enjoyed Romeo+Juliet during its original 40-week run in 2013, this production is still not to be missed.

The LEA14 performances are all free to attend, but audience numbers are limited to 20 per show, with seats allocated on a first come, first serve basis.

"For never was a story of more woe Than this of Juliet and her Romeo" - The Chapel wherein Romeo and Juliet are tragically reunited
“For never was a story of more woe, Than this of Juliet and her Romeo” – The Chapel wherein Romeo and Juliet are tragically reunited. LEA14, Romeo+Juliet

Performance Dates

The three LEA14 performances will take place as follows (all times SLT):

  • 08:30, Saturday May 31st, 2014
  • 11:30, Sunday June 8th
  • 11:30, Sunday June 15th

Do be sure to mark your diary and to attend at least one; I can guarantee you will not be disappointed.

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Paradise Lost: an outstanding masterpiece of performance art in SL

image via Canary Beck
image via Canary Beck

On Saturday March 29th 2014, I was one of a number of people privileged to witness a special preview of The Basilique Performing Arts Company’s production Paradise Lost: The story of Adam and Eve’s original sin, which as I’ve covered in the blog, is an ambitious attempt to visualise Milton’s epic 10,000-word poem Paradise Lost through the medium of dance set to the Süssmayr completion of Mozart’s Requiem Mass in D minor.

By the time of the preview, I’d covered some of the technical complexity of bringing together the production, which features some 43 roles on-stage, plus audience participation as those hosts of both heaven and hell, and Caitlin Tobias had been covering a lot of the behind-the-scenes news on the production. So, needless to say, anticipation was running high as I joined the rest of the audience for the event.

Members of the cast with Harvey and Canary (centred) before the press preview of Paradise Lost
Members of the cast with Harvey and Canary (centred) ready themselves for photos ahead of the press preview of Paradise Lost …

Ahead of time, there was a red carpet moment, with members of the cast available for photographs against the traditional backboards bearing sponsor logos. This made for something of an interesting session, the cast in formal attire – suits and gowns – and a host of angels taking photos…

And the angelic host proclaimed,
… And an angelic host proclaimed, “smile, please!”

I don’t plan to offer a long descriptive review of the production. Really, this can be summed-up in (almost) a single sentence:

This is not something you should risk missing. It’s. That. Good.

The poem has been broadly broken down into three acts, each accompanied by a number of movements from the Süssmayr Requiem. The acts are:

  • Act One: the fall of Satan, the creation of the heavens and the Earth, the creatures of the Earth, Adam, and from Adam, Eve. Featuring Introitus: Requiem, Kyrie Eleison, Dies Irae and Tuba Mirum
  • Act Two: Satan crowned by the hosts of hell, the corruption of Eve, the first sin and expulsion from Eden. Featuring Rex Tremendae, Recordare, Confutatis and Lacrimosa
  • Act Three: the war between the hosts of heaven and hell; Adam and Eve’s despair; Michael’s revelation to Adam of future events leading up to man’s redemption to God through Christ. Adam and Eve venture forth into the world with their baby sons Featuring Domine Jesu, Hostias, Sanctus, Benedictus, Agnus Dei and Lux Aeterna.
Satan and followers, post fall, amidst the fires of hell
Satan and followers, post fall, amidst the fires of hell

These acts are played out in three stage areas – hell to the right of the audience, Eden to the left, and the world beyond the gates of Eden to the front. Extensive and agile use of scripting is made such that the various sets fade in and out as required, and even the floor of the theatre itself is rendered transparent in order to help visualise the Flood as revealed to Adam by Michael in the third act.

The positioning of the stage areas like this serves two purposes – one obvious, and the other perhaps more subtle. The more subtle aspect is that it places the audience physically between the damned and the divine, precisely as someone of Milton’s mindset might well see humanity. The other aspect is that it places the audience squarely in the middle of events, which unfold to their left and right and even overhead, as well as in front of them, enhancing the sense of immersion in the story.

Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds … Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind…”

The immersive element is further deepened by the fact the audience has a role to play in the proceedings, a feat achieved through the creative use of the Restrained Love (RLV) API. Each ticket purchased for a performance includes an avatar set, which audience members are asked to wear when attending a performance. Initially the guise of an angel, RLV is used to make the avatar to change to that of a demon and back as the story moves between the two stages representing paradise and hell, without any intervention on the part of the wearer. RLV also enables the audience to effectively become the chorus within the story.

As a visualisation – given the music selected for the intermissions between the acts (a beautiful rendition of McCreary’s Passacaglia, itself preceded by The Shape of Things to Come prior to the performance commencing), I’m almost tempted to say reimagining of Milton’s poem – one of the most striking elements of this production is how well both the elements of the poem presented within the performance sit with Süssmayr’s completion of Mozart’s Requiem. While Becky, Harvey and I discussed something of the complementary nature of the two works when placed together in this way (see the conversation linked to above), it is not until one sees the performance in full that it becomes clear just how apposite the Requiem’s movements are to the unfolding story.

Continue reading “Paradise Lost: an outstanding masterpiece of performance art in SL”

Paradise Lost: exclusive invitation to bloggers

Basilique-logoI’ve been mentioning the Basilique Performing Arts Company’s upcoming season of  Paradise Lost: The story of Adam and Eve’s original sin, for the last few months, and with good reason: the production is one of the most ambitious and anticipated to be taking place in Second Life.

I most recently posted that curtain up on the premiere performance will take place at 13:00 on Saturday April 5th, 2014, and that such has been the demand for tickets, a second premiere event will taking place on Sunday April 6th at 12:00 noon SLT.

Bloggers

SL bloggers now have the opportunity to see the production ahead of the official opening, at a special invitation-only performance to take place at 13:00 SLT on Saturday, March 29, 2014. Places for the preview are limited, and so early registration is advised, as not everyone who applies may be invited to attend.

As well as possibly receiving an invitation to the preview performance all bloggers registering their interest in attending the event will:

  • Also receive a complimentary ticket to attend a performance of Paradise Lost, complete with audience mesh avatars by Sian Pearl (L$ 1000 value, 50% of which will be donated to the WWF’s Adopt a Gorilla programme sponsoring the welfare of a mountain gorilla)
  • Have access to the Paradise Lost Media Kit which has all the information needed to write a post apart from seeing the show itself!
  • Have their blog listed on the three websites associated with the production and have their name and URL added to the official information kit and programme
  • Be offered the choice of participating in the Paradise Lost Blog Hunt, which runs from April 5th through April 12th, and have their blog details shared among the Basilique’s 2000+ list subscribers.

So, even if you don’t receive an invitation to the preview performance, there are a lot of reasons to register you interest. Make sure you follow the registration link above and apply today!