OF LIGHT is an opera, a durational performance, an incantation of celestial rhythm. Inspired by the extremities of light and darkness in Icelandic nature, OF LIGHT explores light and dark as a gateway of personal initiation. Performed almost completely in darkness, OF LIGHT envelops the audience in music from modern original pieces to pre-Christian incantations, exploring how human beings, through their ability to resonate and create sound, are light bearers.
Having only been performed for one evening, OF LIGHT has received global acclaim and attention, as well as praise from artists such as Marina Abramović, who mentored the project, and Björk, who named the leaders of the project, Samantha Shay (Director), and KÁRYYN (Composer) as groundbreaking artists in The Guardian.
Director: Samantha Shay // Original Music by KÁRYYN // Scenic Design: Vincent Richards // Lighting Design: Alexander Freer // Sound Engineering: Paul Evans // Traditional song transmission: Nini Julia Bang // Performed by Samantha Shay, KÁRYYN, Emily Jackson, Jodie Landau, Suzanne Sterling, and Nini Julia Bang // Assistant Director: Suzanne Sterling // Production Manager: Chelsea DuVall
// Producer: Dagny Berglind Gisladottir // Assistant Producer: Gerri Ravyn Stanfield //
M O N U M E N T is a work in progress performance by Samantha Shay, based on Shakespeare’s King Lear. It is a performance that is structured as a durational swell + and a cacophonous lamentation + a theatre of sound. It explores the laws of Nature in the face of growing turmoil, and a mourning song for the buried shards of division that rise to the surface in the face of an unfamiliar reign, a murmuring song for motherless daughters, a political and familial tapestry of chaos, and an incantation of fierce and enduring loyalty in a tumultuous world.
M O N U M E N T seeks to honor the aural kinesphere of Shakespeare through radical yet devotional means / by jumping into the rhythms within Shakespeare’s use of iambic pentameter, and particularly his unprecedented innovation through rhythmic variation and dissonance in his later plays. M O N U M E N T to devotes itself to the kinaesthetic experience of language, the body as a resonating chamber, and the vocie as a catalyst for emotional landscapes magnified. M O N U M E N T harkens back to the very first form of theatre, the lamentation rites. When women would gather after a death in their community, and with their voices, created a space for the shooing of the soul from one realm to the other.
An in concert version of the performance took place at the LungA Arts Festival in Iceland, performed by Samantha Shay, Jófríður Ákadóttir + Áslaug Magnúsdóttir.
In ten languages, Danish singer Nini Julia Bang sings a tapestry of traditional song, encompassing music from Iran, Romania, Iceland, Norway, Spain, Greece, Malaysia, Mongolia, Bulgaria, and Georgia, the soundscape is a crossover between Nini’s contemporary compositions, and traditional regional cultures Nini has traveled to over many years. Not only is she traversing the world with her voice, but also lifting the veil into other realms, through evocative and striking visuals by Samantha Shay, catapulting A Thousand Tongues from a diverse concert to an incantational meditation.
This concert/performance is a declaration of love for the human voice and frailty of life. The songs are an invitation to reveal how self expression as it exists in many different cultural landscapes. Spanning from Icelandic lullabyes, to reciting the Quran, A Thousand Tongues welcomes it’s audience home to a place where we are, above everything else, human beings.
Performer/Artistic leader: Nini Julia Bang // Director: Samantha Shay // Dramaturg: Jaroslaw Fret // Lighting design: Nicole Pearce // Technician: Maciej Madry // Sound engineer: Paul Evans // Associate Lighting Design: Kate Ashton // Assistant Director: Valerie McCann
A Thousand Tongues premiered on the 7th-8th of November 2016, at the Grotowski Institute, Wroclaw, Poland, as a part of the Theatre Olympics and Wroclaw as European Capital of Culture.
Vasalisa (this ritual was not my idea) is an original devised performance co-created by internationally recognised Portland based artist collective Source Material, co-created by Samantha Shay and Gerri Ravyn Stanfield. Based on the ancient Russian folktale of the Baba Yaga, Vasalisa is a a dreamlike storytelling of immersion into nature, the retrieval of the intuition is a collective initiatory experience, told through image, physical theatre, and traditional songs from Eastern Europe.
Modern culture devalues our intuition as a form of intelligence and the initiation ritual itself. Vasalisa reintroduces a storyin which intuition is reclaimed through an initiation process and integrate ritual with theatre in ancient and unprecedented ways.
This piece pushes the boundaries between content and form and integrates traditional Eastern European music, physical theatre, and collectively created text and performative material. Audience members will be guided into a modern initiation by performers and prompted by design elements in an evening that allows the audience to co-create their contemporary initiation.
Vasalisa premiered on May 14th 2017 in Portland, Oregon at the Headwaters Theater.
Created & Concieved by Samantha Shay and Gerri Ravyn Stanfield // Directed by Samantha Shay // Text by Gerri Ravyn Stanfield // Scenic Design by Alexandra Friedman // Performed by Evangeline Crittenden, Brenna Frederickson, and Joellen Sweeney //
“More than most theatrical occasions, you really have to be there — and you should. Sometimes I felt like I was in a late Kubrick film, sometimes a Tim Burton show. The performers’ emotive indecipherable lyrics (set to original folk music with influences from Bulgaria and Croatia), combined with the funereal costuming, incongruously summoned a combination of Cocteau Twins meet the Addams Family.” - Bret Thomas, Oregon Arts Watch
“Nothing more should be revealed about the work, despite the fact that it is the sort of thing that I can’t really give away the ending for because the story is projected from your own judgements. By that I mean, all is implied, so your own viewpoint becomes the narrative.
Source Material is a new company in town. As we see an influx of newbies to Portland, we must discriminate between those who can get down, are solid, and have something to offer, versus those who don’t care about our creative culture. What we have here is a young and promising interdisciplinary ensemble that I look forward to observing in the coming years.” -Sean Ongley, Thru Magazine
I Should Have a Party For All The Thoughts I Didn't Say (work in progress) is an interdisciplinary theatrical performance of grief merry-making, a proclamation of radical conformities, a ceremony of etiquette and recklessness, of delicate customs and remembrance, of cowardly ceremonies, and secret braveries. Source Material takes over the entire building of the historic Old Church in Portland to create an atmospheric love letter to Russian writer Anton Chekhov, told through the lens of an immersive site specific funeral party.
This piece was performed at The Old Church in Portland Oregon, February 4th-9th 2016.
Conceived by Samantha Shay and Sam Szabo // Directed by Samantha Shay // Scenic Design by Nina Caussa-Rius // Music Direction by Kate Conklin // Assistant Directed by Valerie McCann // Assistant Producer: Erin LaCerra // Performed by James Cowan, Miles Hartfelder, Tiara Jackson, Justin Montalvo, Raven Scott, Samantha Shay, and Jocelynn Sunrise