The Acme Corporation, Baltimore’s premiere experimental theatre company, and Horse Lords, beloved avant-garde rock band, will pool their talents to create a new opera entitled ​The First Thing That Happens. ​Combining the ability of both groups to produce incomprehensible and beautiful work, this new piece will explore the human tendency towards recognition and comprehension, despite the near impossibility of accurately conveying thought and emotion. The opera is constructed in front of the audience as its being performed where language, visual elements, and sound operate interchangeably; speech is visualized and stage action is sonified, data is interpreted and misinterpreted, communication is frustrated yet attempted again. ​T​ he work questions what we exchange in order to connect with other humans.

Acme Corporation artistic director Lola B. Pierson, who wrote and directed “Best of Baltimore” winning plays ​Follow No Strangers to The Fun Places, Office Ladies, Stranger Kindness, ​and The World is Round​, and directed “Best of Baltimore” winning productions of ​Kaspar ​and ​Play​, will direct and write the texts for the piece.

The band Horse Lords will compose the score. Horse Lords is the quartet of composer/performers Andrew Bernstein, Max Eilbacher, Owen Gardner, and Sam Haberman. Since forming in 2010 they have garnered praise for their relentless experimentation and exacting live performances. Over the span of three full length albums and four EPs, Horse Lords has mined the toolbox of (post)modern music, inserting arcane techniques—just intonation tuning, complex polyrhythm, abstract electronics—into the context of rock music. Floating at the boundaries of composition and improvisation, process and performance, the underground and the vast improbable 21st century indie mainstream, Horse Lords exist in none of these places and all of them.

Bernstein and Pierson also teamed up previously on the first incarnation of the Baltimore Rock Opera Society’s Six-Pack piece, ​The Determination of Azimuth.


The First Thing That Happens

Text and direction by Lola B. Pierson
Score by Horse Lords (Andrew Bernstein, Owen Gardener, Max Eilbacher, and Sam Haberman) Lighting Design: Eric Nightengale
Set Design: Lola B. Pierson & Anna Fitzgerald

World premiere
WHEN:​ Running: February 13, 2020- March 1, 2020 Thursdays- Saturdays at 8pm Runtime approximately 65 minutes

WHERE:​ The Voxel 9 W. 25th Street Baltimore, MD 21218


Tickets: $10-$50, sliding scale
Email: [email protected] Twitter: @AcmeCorpTheatre
Instagram: @theacmecorporation

Learn More
Add to Calendar 20200213 America/New_York 9 West 25th Street Baltimore MD 21218 The First Thing That Happens