Spectacularly inventive and original music theater creatively explores the subject of human vs. machine.
The legend of John Henry, deeply rooted in Appalachian folklore surrounding the construction of the American railroad, has existed in many variations and forms – from illustration to tall tale, political polemic to popular song. Steel Hammer, the latest collaboration from composer Julia Wolfe, SITI Company, and Bang on a Can All-Stars, creatively explores the subject of human vs. machine and the cost of hard labor on the human body and soul.
Based on hearsay and recollection, and culling from vibrant American oral traditions, Steel Hammer incorporates lyrics and music by Julia Wolfe and text from four remarkable American playwrights—Kia Corthron, Will Power, Carl Hancock Rux, and Regina Taylor. Directed by Anne Bogart, performers take on wooden bones, mountain dulcimer, step dancing, and more as they explore the human impulse to tell stories and this quintessential American tale.
“Steel Hammer bangs out a spectacularly inventive social message…an extraordinarily potent collaboration between composer Julia Wolfe and director Anne Bogart…spectacularly inventive and original music theater.” – Los Angeles Times