Harvey Crabsticks

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As announced by Canary Beck on the 15th of July, the Basilique Performing Arts Company’s critically-acclaimed theatrical adaptation of John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost will be shown for a second season, beginning on August 2nd. Tickets are on sale at the Basilique store on the Second Life marketplace for alternating Saturday and Sunday performances.

Season 1 was highly successful, with every performance being sold out. If you missed the opportunity to watch Paradise Lost during its first season, I will say it again: You really cannot afford to miss it. It is the most ambitious and perhaps the most important artistic event in Second Life and virtual worlds for 2014. You can read my review of the show here. If you are interested in attending the performance, you are advised to book your tickets early. The tickets are non-transferrable, so, if you wish to purchase tickets for your friends and/or loved ones, you should buy them as gifts.

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Having already covered the dress rehearsal and the press preview of the Basilique Performing Arts Company’s adaptation of John Milton’s famous epic poem “Paradise Lost“, I am now in a position to review it in as much depth as I can, given my own limited knowledge and understanding of the Arts and of the historical, political and religious context that influenced Milton to write his epic. Before I proceed any further, though, I could offer a single-sentence summary of the performance: You cannot afford to miss it.

In my previous posts, I described it as the most ambitious and perhaps the most important artistic event in Second Life and virtual worlds for 2014. Having watched the dress rehearsal, the press preview and the official premiere, my assessment still stands and I believe it to be strengthened even further.

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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.

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Mona

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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.

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Poster for Paradise Lost in Second Life; premieres on April 5th, 2014.

I’ll begin with three admissions on my behalf: First of all, I don’t consider myself to be particularly well-versed in English poetry, not least because I’m a citizen of neither the United Kingdom nor the United States – or of any former British colony. I’m better suited to speak about my country’s poetry, with which I am much better familiarised. Second, I’m not well-versed in classical music – in fact, classical music is not something I go out of my way to listen to; my tastes in music are usually far more contemporary and, if you like, more pedestrian than that. Third, I’m not a particularly religious person, although the writings of the Scriptures are not alien to me.

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basilique-logoThis springtime is certainly going to be quite interesting in Second Life, as there is a good variety of events for people to attend; charitable fundraisers, artistic exhibitions etc, in addition to the multitude of parties that are organised all over the grid- then again, one might argue, there has never been a shortage of events in SL. However, some of these events stand out for the sheer amount of work that goes into making them happen, and for the complexity and ambition of the work undertaken.

Sadly, RL obligations have prevented me from blogging about many events, places and exhibits I had the good fortune to visit – and one should also need to add as a… “bonus” obstacle the fact that my main computer, the one I use for practically everything, both RL- and SL-related, is a laptop with a rather sub-par graphics card that doesn’t quite take things in its stride at the more visually appealing graphics settings, especially when the region being viewed is not sparsely decorated and/or populated.

One of the most ambitious and anticipated in-world events is the Basilique Performing Arts Company’s upcoming season of Paradise Lost: The Story of Adam and Eve’s Original Sin, which, as I wrote earlier, will premiere on Saturday April 5th, 2014, 13:00 SLT. Demand for tickets has been such that a second premiere has been arranged for Sunday April 6th, 12:00SLT (noon). For a thorough presentation of the technical aspects and challenges faced by the people behind the show, see Inara Pey’s interview with Canary “Becky” Beck and Harvey Crabsticks. I believe her conversation with Becky and Harvey should help you understand why I say – without even a trace of hyperbole – that Paradise Lost is among the most ambitious artistic and technical undertakings in Second Life.

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Now, as was announced on Monday, SL bloggers are given the opportunity to see the show ahead of its premiere, at a special invitation-only performance that will take place on Saturday 29th March, 2014, 13:00SLT. There are few, limited places for the preview, so it is highly recommended that those interested register early – not all applicants will be invited.

Now, registering your interest will not only give bloggers a shot at previewing the performance of Paradise Lost. All bloggers who register their interest in attending the preview performance will also:

  • Receive a complimentary ticket to attend a performance of Paradise Lost. Together with the ticket, they will also receive custom-made audience mesh avatars created by Sian Pearl. The ticket’s value is L$1000; 50% of these funds will be donated to the WWF’s Adopt a Gorilla programme, which aims to protect mountain gorillas.
  • Receive the Paradise Lost media kit, which includes all the necessary information to write a post on the show.
  • Have their blog listed on the three websites that are dedicated to, and associated with the production and also have their name and their blog’s URL added to the official information kit and programme.
  • Have the choice to participate in the Paradise Lost Blog Hunt, which will commence on April 5th and run through April 12th, and their blog’s details will be shared among the Basilique’s list subscribers, whose number exceeds 2,000.

So, regardless of whether you are invited to the preview or not, you still have reasons to register your interest with the Basilique Performing Arts Company. All you have to do is follow the link to the registration form – the sooner, the better.

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Mona

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