All the Burn’s a Stage

burning man opera-54We went over to the Noodle Factory in Oakland on Sunday to get a taste of “The Burning Opera – How to Survive the Apocalypse.” It was one of the final tuneups for the show that opens Monday, October 5, at Teatro ZinZanni, on the waterfront in San Francisco.

The rock opera is a little bit “Hair” in that it tries to capture the zeitgeist of a movement, and a little bit “Rent” in the joyful exuberance that sometimes comes along with incredible hardship, and maybe a little bit “Jesus Christ, Superstar” in the way it touches your spiritual buttons.

burning man opera-29The storyline is about a guy and his girl who make their way to the playa for the first time.  She’s a lot more reluctant about everything than he is, at least initially. She tolerates the greeters, gets freaked out trying to set up their tent in a dust storm, and in general is having a really crappy time. She finds very little amusing about shirtcocking, but of course she’s not alone in that assessment. But she’s uptight and really unsure about this whole radical self-expression thing in general, especially when it comes to nudity and sexuality.

But things happen.  There are transformations. Hilarity ensues. And you’ll want to see it all for yourself.

You definitely don’t need to have gone to the desert to get a kick out of the Burning Opera, but there is lots that will be familiar to people of the playa: PortaPotties, blinkies and pasties, plus the eternal question: How can people who wear pink fur get along with the folks in black leather and studs?

Here’s more from the website:

Driven by the desire to bring the Burn off the playa, but without the crusty snot, “How to Survive the Apocalypse” aims to communicate the culture of Burning Man to wider audiences. On a larger level, the show aims to explore the inherent conflicts and painful paradoxes of the event itself, from its tangled origins to its ongoing mutation.

The tale unfolds with the help of some really beautiful music and some incredibly talented people.

You can find out about tickets over here. The workshop performances in January sold out, so you might want to grab some tickets before it’s too late for this go-round.

Lots and lots more photos after the jump.

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About the author: John Curley

John Curley has been Burning since the relatively late date of 2004, and in 2008 he spent the better part of a month on the playa, documenting the building and burning of Black Rock City in words and pictures. John is a longtime newspaper person and spent many years at the San Francisco Chronicle, where he was a deputy managing editor in charge of Page One and the news sections of the paper. Since leaving the Chronicle in 2007, he was a contributing editor on Blue Planet Run, a book about the world's water crisis, and for the past two years has been a lecturer at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism. He has also started an event and editorial photography business, and is also working on a book about the "Ten Dollar Doc" from Arco, Idaho, which will make a lovely film someday.

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