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The Watcher is an opera of sorts which was inspired by several true stories, but is a work of fiction. It is a story involving assorted forms of possession. The story begins in the mid 19th Century when two escaped slaves fall into the hands of a serial killer on the Underground Railroad. Over time, the spirits of the killer's victims possess various characters throughout the opera to exact vengeance. First on their killer, and then on the world. It is a century long tale told in two acts, one mirroring the other in many respects as modern-day characters seek to possess physical property, while the spirits possess their living vessels and work to counter such intentions.


The opera centers around two quartets here. Four string players perform the music while four gospel singers act as a Greek chorus behind a handful of primary actors. The chorus often tells us the story, while other times they react to the actions of the primary actors and witness what unfolds on the stage before them.


A departure from Shad's other work, The Watcher was described by one critic as "brilliant, deeply American writing… powerful and suggestive.”

The Watcher (2019)

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