Mixed Magic Presents The Spirit Warrior’s Dream for One Night Only

45163724_2722596814420923_3029109931287511040_n“I have often been aware of the wolf behind the wall,” says Mixed Magic’s Ricardo Pitts-Wiley. “But the thing about the wolf, is that it must come out from behind the wall so that it may be defeated.” Pitts-Wiley makes this observation in the context of discussing the presentation of his musical, The Spirit Warrior’s Dream, which receives a live broadcast via Facebook for one night only on Sunday, November 4.  “And when the wolf comes out, it does not mean sheep *won’t* be slaughtered, it does not mean that the wolf *won’t* survive for a while in the sun … but the longer it stays in the sun … it’s like the vampire legends – they can survive for a while but will get weaker over time.”

The sun, specifically the “silver sun” is an image that runs throughout Spirit Warrior’s Dream, a piece that Pitts-Wiley (alongside co-creator Robert Schleeter) originally wrote in 1987 while artist-in-residence at the University of Rhode Island. There have been several productions over the decades, but this particular version, truncated due to infrastructure issues at Mixed Magic’s building in Pawtucket, is lean and focused primarily on the music and the story. A “post-apocalyptic look at America,” Spirit Warrior wears its many influences on its sleeve (Jesus Christ Superstar, The Who’s Tommy, maybe even a little bit of Styx’s Kilroy Was Here), but is, at its essence, a wholly original take on a tale of warring ideals — is it more desirable to destroy the past and rebuild from scratch, or should we embrace the better part of our history and patiently build a better tomorrow? In other words, “Is America an idea whose time has passed, or a yet to be fulfilled promise?”

Although the story has evolved over the years, the current iteration of Spirit Warrior revolves around a powerful dictator (“Dreamkiller”) who has taken over the nation, enslaving minds and souls, controlling the will of the people and denying access to music. Through the chaos, two separate factions evolve who represent differing paths towards the future. One represents violence and discipline to bring about “peace” and believes that America was a “failed project” that needs a complete do-over. The second faction, holed up in a former prison called “Yesterday,” holds forth the ideal that America just needs time to evolve into its original promise. Pitts-Wiley tells Motif, “When I first started this piece, I thought I was writing fiction, but now, this shit is really happening!” While political allegories are evident, Pitts-Wiley stresses that the play (or “rock/soul opera” as its described) is ultimately about the roles of women in society, ambition, dreams and the “power of the will.” Also central to the story is the effect of apathy in a society where action is needed. “The Age of Apathy began, and The Dreamkiller destroyed the will,” is a prescient quote here, but Pitts-Wiley is careful to stress, once again, that the story is less about politics than it is about “human nature” and the varying means in which we express that nature. Apathy or action, all modes of response are explored via the varying musical styles employed throughout Spirit Warrior.

“While I wrote the lyrics, each song fell into a particular rhythm that informs the song’s style,” says Pitts-Wiley. Bob (Schleeter) is a guitar player, so a lot of the music is very guitar-driven, but the show explores all the qualities of America, and Americana, that make this country great. There’s Gospel, but there’s also Punk and everything in-between. With this performance (on the 4th), there are slides, projections and text that aids in telling the story, but we’re less concerned about the ‘look’ of the piece as we are about the music.” Described as a “17-song, rock and rhythm” score, there is enough variety here to keep Spirit Warrior from being just another bloated rock opera.

“It’s a live concept album,” says Pitts-Wiley, invoking several classic albums from years past, up to and including even Michael Jackson’s Thriller. And, like most concept album storylines, the story involves making a stand for your beliefs, regardless of the adversity. The Spirit Warrior fights for our soul, our will and our future, whatever shape that may take. And, as Mixed Magic Theatre faces its own adversity, they take their own stand by presenting their story live, anyway, using the only medium at their disposal. For them, apathy is not a choice.

Mixed Magic Theatre presents THE SPIRIT WARRIOR’S DREAM — In Concert; Sunday, November 4th @ 7pm, broadcast on Facebook Live; facebook.com/events/296581344323997; Directed by Gregory Johnson and Kim Pitts-Wiley,  featuring Jeannie Carson, Jonathan Grice, Amos Hamrick, Greg Johnson, Kaiasia, Habibah Quddus, Brayam Renovales, Kim Trusty and Seth Woodruff. Donations are accepted in the ticketing section of the Facebook event.

 

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