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The Nine Dreams / Blake and the Apocalypse

image: Drita Kabashi as Vala in The Nine Dreams (costume by Suzanne Bocanegra)

Sawyer Yards is pleased to announce The Nine Dreams / Blake and the Apocalypse, an immersive performance of Vala, William Blake’s masterpiece, as distilled by Nick Flynn. Performances will take place at SITE Gallery on April 14 and 15, from 6:30 through 9:30 pm. Groups of ten guests will be allowed to pass through the space at a time. The performance is free and open to all. 

William Blake began Vala at the dawn of the industrial age, as the new factories began billowing smoke into London’s sky—the poem prophesized the ecological devastation that was to follow. Blake abandoned the project ten years later, yet it remains his “most extraordinary achievement” (G.E. Bentley, Jr.). The poem also warns against various other contemporary dangers, from chattel slavery (as practiced at the time in England), to unregulated capitalism, to authoritarianism, to anything that limits the imagination.

Nick Flynn has distilled Blake’s apocalyptic vision into an hour-long performance. Since 2006, versions have been performed in the UK (London and Manchester), Boston, and New York. The premiere of the fully realized production was due to be presented during the Countercurrent Festival (Spring 2020) at SITE Gallery (Houston), but that performance was derailed (perhaps appropriately) by the global pandemic. In December 2020 we regrouped and gathered four actors in Brooklyn (at Pioneer Works) to film the entire sequence. This performance at SITE Gallery will be the world premiere of these videos, with an original score written & performed by Sarah Lipstate (aka Noveller) and Guy Barash, this time as part of an immersive performance where the audience will wander through the abandoned silos, encountering the dreams in a timed sequence, ending with a live performance of the ninth dream by Drita Kabashi. Films and performance directed by Meghan Finn, video design by David Pym, line producer Hanna Yurfest. 

This project is funded by the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts

in association with The Tank (celebrating 20 years in 2023), and SITE Gallery (Sawyer Yards).