A Beast/A Burden

ensemble theatre · glass half productions · Ages 18+ · world premiere · 90 mins · United States of America

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BENJAMIN SCHWARTZ certified reviewer · June 11, 2018
So far my favorite show at the fringe this year. This is a story that is actually worth a damn to create and present. Not only because of the themes. But because a show like this helps secure an artist like Chris Burden into history. Helps him live on far beyond his life. Ben Hethcoat's portrayal of Burden was just so captivating. There's subtlety and madness surrounding his choices--which never go over the top. This is a very controlled performance. As an artist, I really connected, which manifested audibly---you know like a moment in church where you agree with what the pastor says and that uncontrolled guttural reaction of approval can't help but spew out.--I connected with a ton of the dialogue from Burden's character; especial... full review

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ANONYMOUS · June 12, 2018
I am not a routine theatre-goer, probably not having seen a stage work in over ten-years. But I knew Chris Burden loosely over the years, particularly from his time at Pomona, and a friend of mine informed me of the existence of this particular piece. It was a fine reminder of just how important Chris's work was to the art work, at the time and today. If you're a Burden die-hard, you might find some of the liberties curious, but I suppose if you're going into a 'historical dramatization' (as the production calls itself) expecting an entirety of facts, you're setting yourself up for disappointment. I was not disappointed. I laughed, I was moved, and it made me fondly remember my friend.... full review

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LUCY GILLESPIE certified reviewer · June 11, 2018
tagged as: 70s · smart · art · brilliant
Exquisite. Beautifully written, spectacular performances. Any fear I had of a stodgy, humorless, self-important Sunday morning theater experience was quickly dispelled by the opening sequence. As Ben Hethcoat--flawlessly natural as Chris Burden--dove his head into a bucket of water to "breathe water, which I believe to be a thicker, more nutritious form of oxygen.", I was incredulous. Was this guy a total idiot? And was he actually going to "breathe", or just fake it and hold his breath? And wait, was I a snob for assuming something was true just because I knew it to be true? Who did I think I was? And also how the hell was his head still underwater? It's been a REALLY long time! What if this actor died right here in front of us? And if not,... full review

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JENNIFER WARREN · June 02, 2018
A masterful retelling of the life of an artist. The lead actor portraying Chris Burden did so with a confidence and skill level rarely seen of the Los Angeles stage. Capturing the audience with a scene that’s sure to make you hold your breathe from the first moment, I think this piece has the potential to be developed for the broadway stage.... full review

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SARAH CHOI certified reviewer · June 15, 2018
I’ve come across the belief in my time as a writer that in order to understand a piece of work that can be considered esoteric—in this case, an artist most famous for a striking light installation, but not necessarily by name or his extended works—that one must first be familiar with it in advance. As someone who can readily admit that “Urban Light” was my only frame of reference walking into this play, I can confirm that this philosophy is both ill-advised and incorrect as “A Beast/A Burden” proves it flat-out wrong: good writing is quite simply, good writing. You don’t need to have school-aged children to relate to “God of Carnage”, you don’t need to be young and black to feel the injustice in “Pass Over”, and you don’t need to know who... full review

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JAMES NEUBERGER · June 15, 2018
Wow. Just wow. Knew nothing about Chris Burden going into this show. Never even been to the museum to see his pieces there. Only went to the show because the other Fringe show I was seeing was sold out. So glad I did. This was the best show I've ever seen at Fringe, and I've seen a few. It was so polished and well thought out and confident that it could have been a professional production on a professional stage. There is something awesome about watching people strip down theatre to its bare essentials, and that's what this show does. It's a show about art and artists and it doesn't really worry too much about all the trappings and bullshit that usually weigh that sort of stuff down. This is a show that knows what it is.... full review

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JAMESON THORPE · June 03, 2018
I knew next to nothing about this production going into it other than it dealt with an artist of whom I am extremely fond, Chris Burden. I went in with low expectations, as I've been burned on Fringe shows in the past. This, however, was not your average Fringe show. From the very beginning of the show, the audience is thrust into this realm of uncertainty where you don't quite know what is part of the show and what is real. Then you're led on this exploration of Burden's works - some touching, some humorous - that relate you to the artist through his relationships with other, random characters. By the ending of the piece (which is best left unspoiled for the viewer), I felt connected to Burden in ways I certainly hadn't imagined when I ente... full review

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ANONYMOUS certified reviewer · June 15, 2018
Chris Burden is a fascinating artist, and this show does a great job of delving into the intention behind his art. Solid performances all around, and a great script and direction from Billy Ray Brewton. Highly recommend it!... full review

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JAKE KORNELY certified reviewer · June 16, 2018
A compelling behind the scenes glimpse of a performance artist. This made me want to go out and learn more about Chris Burden. I loved how they showed how the close relationships around the artist were affected as his art became more provocative.... full review

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VICTOR SOTOMAYOR · June 14, 2018
What is art? That’s the question that Chris Burden (played by an engaging and powerhouse Ben Hethcoat) asks the audience after having witnessed some of his stunts or pieces that makes you question: is this art?... full review

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