It’s Wagner on steroids (and with burlesque) as ‘The Ring’ hits Bushwick

The Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Forget holy deities — the gods of 1980s-era America were World Wrestling Federation stars.

At least that’s the case in a Bushwick theater’s version of the 19th-century opera, “Das Rheingold,” or “Ring” cycle — a a rock stage play production of the very same opera that the Met is staging right now.

Of course, there’s a lot less pretension in Performance Lab 115’s ’80s rock ’n’ roll take on Wagner’s classic work (how can there not be when the immortal characters are pro-wrestlers and the lowly humans are represented by janitors?).

“I grew up with 1980s pro-wrestling and these characters are as bombastic as gods,” explained director Dave Dalton. “Pro-wrestlers are a great contemporary equivalent to Wagner’s gods because they have such big egos.”

And ego is central to Wagner’s main theme: the quest for power.

”The storyline can serve as a metaphor for American foreign policy in the 1980s,” Dalton said. “There is that central dilemma involving bending the rules to do what one believes will be good for the world.”

Americana characters and setting aren’t the only things that make Performance Lab 115’s “The Ring Cycle” distinct.

Instead of classical music, this Brooklyn play features a soundtrack of classic ’80s metal, like “Rock You Like a Hurricane” by The Scorpions. There will also be burlesque dancers replacing the traditional production’s mermaid characters.

And unlike Wagner’s “Das Rheingold,” which is comprised of four parts that can total a 17-hour long performance, this modern take on parts one and two is only two hours long.

“We encourage multiplicity of interpretations of classic works,” Dalton said. “Because most people will probably never get to see the full version of the Ring Cycle, so we wanted to make it more accessible.”

Coincidentally, Performance Lab 115’s “The Ring Cycle” is opening only five days after The Metropolitan Opera House’s $16-million performance of “Das Rheingold” closes for the season. This Brooklyn version’s budget may be a lot smaller, but its eccentricities (and $15 tickets) make it worth watching.

And make sure to look out for Performance Lab 115’s version of parts three and four down the road.

“We’re working on developing a script for the final two parts of ‘Ring’ right now,” Dalton said.

“We hope The Met runs parts three and four of ‘Das Rheingold’ at the same time we do our version.”

The Ring Cycle: Part 1 and 2” at The Bushwick Starr (297 Starr St. between Wyckoff and Irving avenues in Bushwick, no phone), Oct. 14-30, Thursday through Sunday at 8 pm. In previews Oct. 7-10. Tickets are $15. For info, visit

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Reasonable discourse

Comments closed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Keep it local!

Stay in touch with your community. Subscribe to our free newsletter: