A Beast/A Burden

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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ANONYMOUS · June 25, 2018
Very impressive piece of theater. I've been meaning to write this review for a few days now, but I'm still lost in thought about the show. Billy Ray Brewton, playwright and director of "A Beast/A Burden", created a true masterpiece. I dove into a Google search fiesta after the show about Chris Burden and his entire life. Billy Ray Brewton depicted Chris as a multilayered man, leaving the audience to decide how we felt about him, while also simultaneously humanizing him, which was a difficult task.... 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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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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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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RUSSELL EATON · June 25, 2018
This is a fascinating biographical play covering several months in the life of artist Chris Burden. The show is a thoughtful piece raising many questions about art and how we interpret it. A strong cast brings a complicated man and his cohorts to life that is provocative and entertaining. One of my favorite plays I have seen this year.... 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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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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JEAN MINUCHIN certified reviewer · June 23, 2018
This was an interesting piece about an artist that I re-remembered once the show began. A look into the world of contemporary conceptual art, the art world in the early LA scene, and specifically Chris Burden. In this portrait a complex person is revealed, not always sympathetic but very human and striving to find meaning, to evoke reaction, and create a connection through danger and vulnerability. ... full review

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