“All is not lost, the unconquerable will, and study of revenge, immortal hate, and the courage never to submit or yield.” ~ John Milton, Paradise Lost
There are few things in SL that make my mouth drop open in astonishment anymore—Bits and Bobs Slow Dance v 3, a 24-hour sim build by Eshi Otawara, Zaara’s newest gown. I found another one—the work that Canary Beck, Harvey Crabsticks, and their associates are doing at the Basilique Playhouse. After finishing a triumphant run of Romeo and Juliet (which ended its season on Valentine’s Day), the group is gearing up for a performance of John Milton’s “Paradise Lost,” the story of Adam and Eve’s expulsion from Eden accompanied by Mozart’s Requiem Mass in D.
Now, before you go “Blech, high culture,” hear me out on this. There is a reason this stuff keeps coming back again and again, being performed over and over in variations. It’s really good! Ignore that it’s Milton, who is some dead guy you never got to in college. Don’t think about it being Mozart, something your grandma wouldn’t even listen to. And completely forget this is a story from the Bible. Consider it’s SL and wonder how a group of people could put together this story and keep your attention.
Because they can—I saw a scene from it and I was absolutely riveted–not just by the story and music, which are themselves compelling (who has never known temptation, especially in SL?)—but also by the way Canary and Harvey have set this up. First you turn on the stream, which plays Mozart’s Requiem, a dramatic and beautiful piece of music (really). Then you look around the sets, all staged WITHIN a cathedral so you are reminded continuously this is the performance of a play—not a movie, not a machinima. Constraints have to be surmounted, disbelief has to be overcome. Then you see the characters emerge—not just pretty avatars but real living characters.
Canary and Harvey manage to make this magic with a very complex and amazing orchestration of set-building, animation synced to music, beautiful avatars and attention to narrative and story. From the moment the orchestration begins, you are immersed.
What astonishes is how Canary and Harvey combine SL elements to create the play and use every tool in their hands—music being fed in, animation, windlight, decoration, and of course, avatar styling—to create this story. (They also use, incidentally, graphics and machinima in their brilliant posters and teaser movies.)
For example, in one scene the “Serpent,” played by a beautiful young woman avatar wearing a Snow Rabbit mesh head and a Wasabi pills snake headpiece, dances with Eve, who herself is wearing a Logo mesh head, Slink appendages and not much else. The dance is a melange of animation pieces culled from things like a grindy dance I have seen people doing in hip hop joints to a ballet sequence. I know many of the elements but I am still enrapt because Canary and Harvey have put them together so well.
Later in the story, Eve convinces Adam to take the apple, and he does and they embrace. It’s romantic and kind of sexy for a moment but then the Son of God and Michael come down, and they realize they have screwed up—big time. The anguish in their movements, the pure sorrow and fear is amazing. Somehow they convey with these simple animations, in this simple space with the music and the avatars, the depth of regret.
The avatars have been outfitted with attention to every detail. Consider the Michael and the Son of God. These two hunks have to castigate Adam and Eve for giving in to sin, lead them out of paradise down this long cold path, fight with the Satan, and show a vision of the future. It’s a lot for these two to bear but they do it with style.
Now that I have compelled you to want to see this (and I really hope I have), let me give you some details. The performance is held at the Basilique Playhouse. Tickets are 1000L each (well worth it) or you may sponsor a performance. (For example, Miamai is sponsoring the opening performance.) The first performance will be in April and if you miss it, don’t worry. They will be staging performances through April and May as well and sponsorships are still open (hint hint). All performances are on weekend days at 1 pm slt. And finally, and MOST importantly, half of the sponsorship fees go to adopt a critically endangered mountain gorilla through World Wildlife Fund.
Want to know all the news? Follow Canary’s website for all the details.
“Freely they stood who stood, and fell who fell. ” ~ John Milton, Paradise Lost
The Son of God (in white)
Robe: FATEPlay – Ithron – Ice from FATEPlay
Mantle: La reserve – Assassin Mantle Men from La reserve
Skin: TELLAQ – Seydou from Tellaq
Eyes: IKON Promise Eyes – Coffee from IKON
Archangel Michael (in black)
Armour:Dark Prophet Designs “Rebel” from Dark Prophet Designs
Scar: Dark Prophet Designs Facial Scar 5 from Dark Prophet Designs
Skin – Tellaq “Massimo Skin Style 1” from Tellaq
Eyes – Tellaq “Greenbeam” from Tellaq
Wings:*TRAUM* IronBlade Wings DarkStyle from TRAUM
Avatars constructed by Canary Beck and Harvey Crabsticks.