ERRATICS: Scenes from Thomas Cole’s The Course of Empire

March 1-4 & 8-11, 2018

Created by Dan Hurlin. Text by Erik Ehn.  

Developed with the ensemble.

Inspired by Thomas Cole’s allegorical landscape paintings, ERRATICS: Scenes from Thomas Cole’s The Course of Empire, explores what empire means to those living in the modern era. Cole’s paintings, created from 1833-36, feature the same landscape at five different points during the rise and ultimate fall of an empire and highlights the dissonance between political power and freedom. Created by Dan Hurlin, ERRATICS, follows the same journey, using a traditional style of Japanese puppetry, Bunraku, as well as shadow puppets, to present short scenes that reflect the period in which they are set.

Dan Hurlin, an OBIE award-winning performance artist and puppeteer, will connect Erik Ehn’s text with his own work in Bunraku puppetry. Bunraku, the traditional puppet theatre of Japan, dates back to the 16th century. “The reason I love bunraku puppets is that the movement is extremely nuanced,” says Hurlin, “because of their grace, they have an ability to create a connection to the audience.” The puppets, which Hurlin will be constructing, are operated by three puppeteers at once, and stand at nearly half human scale.

Eric Nathan, Assistant Professor of Music and award winning composer, will join the creative team with an original score that will be performed by a Disklavier, a self-playing acoustic piano. “Some of the music that I am composing can only be performed by a Disklavier,” Nathan explains, “because it would require too many hands or fingers for live performers to realize.” Nathan goes on to say that he and Hurlin “are working to incorporate the visual gestures of the piano’s moving keys and hammers into the fabric of the play,” in hopes that “the audience can begin to identify with the piano as a life-like character in this theatrical work.”

Brown University Theatre’s 2017-18 performance season is produced by the Brown University Department of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies and by Sock & Buskin, a student-faculty board that has an unbroken record of producing theatre at Brown University for over 100 years.

“Yamaha Disklavier™ DU1E3 upright piano is provided by Yamaha Corporation of America.”

Tickets are $15 (adults) / $12 (seniors) / $7 (students). For more information visit To book tickets, call (401) 863-2838, or visit the Box Office in the Leeds Theatre Lobby (83 Waterman Street, Providence, RI 02912), Tuesday–Friday from 12–4pm during the semester, or email To book online, visit:

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