Last Saturday (March 29th), I was one of the SL bloggers that had the privilege of attending the press preview of Paradise Lost in Second Life, the adaptation of John Milton’s famous epic poem “Paradise Lost” by the Basilique Performing Arts Company. I was already familiar with the way Becky and Harvey approached the poem’s plot, but I’m not going to describe it to you in this post; it would be giving away too many spoilers. After all, in my previous post I gave away some crucial plot elements and a brief look into John Milton’s political and religious views that influenced him to compose this poem.
So, this is going to be only a short review and not a full-featured one. Fittingly enough for the poem’s theme, the theatre for this show is a church – a basilica (hence the “Basilique” name chosen by Becky and Harvey for their art group). For a more technical overview, I think you’d do well to read Inara Pey’s excellent post, as it explains the way Becky and Harvey applied RL theatrical direction techniques to the show. The action takes place not only in front of the audience, but also to the right, to the left and even above the spectators. Harvey said they’re planning to control the audience’s camera (like Tyrehl Byk does in his great particle show Catharsis) and I hope they’ll have the necessary scripts ready by the time of the official premiere, as the show will benefit greatly from this.
God creates Adam. Image courtesy of Canary Beck.
I have gone on record for saying that Paradise Lost is the most ambitious, and probably the most important, artistic event in Second Life for 2014. Everything about it pushes the technical envelope: on-the-fly costume changes (who said RLV is only for BDSM?), choreographed participation of the audience’s custom avatars that also switch between angel and demon, again via RLV, careful coordination of the animations of multiple avatars, scripted windlight changes… And that’s not even taking into account the extremely tasteful rendition of the poem and its characters. The avatars are gorgeously crafted and shaped, perfectly fitting their roles, the eras described in the narration and also their characterisation in the poem. The scenery is very well-designed, and the fade-outs between different sceneries are perfectly timed and executed (to the extent, of course, that each individual user’s computer can handle things). Furthermore, the decision to set the performance against Mozart’s Requiem in D minor proved to fit the atmosphere and the mood of Milton’s poem perfectly.
In all, I highly recommend that you watch this performance, even if it’s the only artistic event you’ll attend in Second Life this year. Even if you’re not artistically inclined. Even if you hear about classical works and turn away. The sensitivity, care, attention to detail, and love that has gone in this production has to be witnessed to be fathomed.
Full disclosure statement: I have been selected to be among the official bloggers for the Paradise Lost in Second Life production. I receive no recompense whatsoever for my blogging work; I cover the event because I believe in the talents and skills of everyone at the Basilique Performing Arts Company, because I liked the concept and because I want to help, with whatever powers I have, to show the creative and artistic potential of virtual worlds.