Source Material is an international company producing theatre, dance, and film works by Samantha Shay. The company’s work has been described as visually stunning, musically and physically driven, and ritualistic. Source Material is rooted in multi-cultural artistic legacy, drawing inspiration from influences all over the world. Source Material recognizes that diverse forms of storytelling not only represent the beauty of the global community, but fosters individual and collective belonging.
Much of Source Material’s theatrical work is anchored in reverence for the classical canon, often adapting literature-based performances with highly original staging. Source Material’s work has been both praised and controversial to American audiences, and has “held spectators rapt” (American Theatre Magazine). Source Material has presented work at The Grotowski Institute (Wroclaw), REDCAT (Los Angeles), and HERE Arts (NYC), as well as in Iceland, Sweden, and the UK. In 2016, Source Material’s original piece, of Light, gained international attention when it was developed under the mentorship of Marina Abramović, and praised by Björk in The Guardian. Two songs from the original score were released by Mute Records via composer KÁRYYN, with “Moving Masses” named Best New Track on Pitchfork. Awards for the company include: Best Physical Theatre Performance, The Duende Distinction, and the Encores! Producers’ Award for Source Material’s first work, Into The Fog performed at the Hollywood Fringe, and two nominations for Gríman (Icelandic Theatre Awards) for A Thousand Tongues, in the categories of Most Innovative Performance, and Best Lighting Design. In 2018, Source Material made its first music release, with Nini Julia Bang’s A Thousand Tongues, featuring original and traditional songs from around the world, stemming from Source Material’s original performance of the same title. In 2019 Source Material received their first major foundational grant from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts. In 2020 Source Material produced the digitally-devised Zoom play In These Uncertain Times, in response to how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting the arts. The New York Times described the performance, “like a lyrical essay, poetic, emotive and fluid,” and has been used as a resource by numerous academic and critical researchers as a pivotal theatrical work during the pandemic.
Source Material produced Samantha Shays’ first short dance film, Homesick in 2019 in collaboration with Israeli Dancer/Choreographer Danielle Agami (Batsheva Dance Company, Ate9 Dance Company) which is now published exclusively on NOWNESS. The company has created visual content for the international music scene, including JFDR (Iceland), Jodie Landau (US), Johanna Warren (US), Sóley (Iceland), KÁRYYN (US/Syria), Kira Kira (Iceland), Nini Julia Bang (Denmark) Veronique Vaka (Iceland), ZAAR (Denmark) and Katie Gately (US).
Katie Gately’s Waltz, directed by Samantha Shay and starring dancer Bobbi Jene Smith was an international success, recognized by both the music and dance scene, playing numerous film festivals: LA Music Video Awards, Experimental Dance & Music Film Festival, London Music Video Awards, San Francisco Dance Film Festival, Portland Dance Film Festival, Thessaloniki Cinedance International, ScreenDance Film Festival, Opine Dance Film Festival, Jacksonville Dance Film Festival, Utah Dance Film Festival, and BAFTA and Academy Award qualifying HollyShorts and CineQuest.
Source Material’s other films have screened at: Northern Wave Film Festival (Nominated: Best Music Video), BAFTA and Academy Award qualifying Flickers Rhode Island International Film Festival, CAPITOL Dance & Cinema Festival, Golden Shorts Film Festival. Press for music videos has been published in: i-D, Fact Magazine, Under the Radar, Pitchfork, and Stereogum.
Source Material’s most recent release is Shay’s second dance film, Mother Melancholia, a multi-layered portrait of four women and a eulogy for the planet set to, and inspired by Sóley’s album of the same title, a self-proclaimed soundtrack for the end of the world as we know it. Co-commissioned by Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, the dance film approaches patriarchal politics and ecofeminism through an unguarded, unsettlingly beautiful meditation on the difficulty, and immediacy of being fully present in the world. Filmed in the surreal and eroding Icelandic landscape, Mother Melancholia is a quiet, yet urgent conduit between the internal world of the human experience, and the planet we inhabit. The film premiered at the Pina Bausch Zentrum in Wuppertal in May of 2022, wherein Source Material partnered with the Tanztheater Wuppertal to offer a digital on demand screening in support of the Ukrainian people. Through the joint efforts of the two companies, revenue from the online stream raised over 5,000 euros for the people of Ukraine. Mother Melancholia went on to win the Audience Choice Award for Best Dance Short at Cinedans, and is currently circulating film festivals worldwide.
In 2023, Source Material will release Romance, a new dance film by Samantha Shay in response to her research as a Fulbright Scholar into the works of Pina Bausch in an illuminating meeting point with the short story “It was Romance” by Miranda July. Developed in a close collaboration between Shay and an intergenerational ensemble of dancers from Tanztheater Wuppertal, the creative point of departure for “Romance” centers on the company's first transgender dancer, Naomi Brito, and how her transition was catalyzed by the roles of women as she experienced them in the Bausch repertory. Shot on 16mm film in Pina Bausch's iconic and aging Lichtburg rehearsal studio, “Romance” dances on the fault lines between fiction and reality, dance and documentary, in a fertile intergenerational dialogue between past, present and future, and through a fresh and powerful encounter, assures that the power of an aging legacy is never ending. Romance premieres at Cinedans in March 2023.
Source Material is based in the USA & Europe.
The People:
Samantha Shay, Artistic Director
Stephanie Regina, Managing Director
Ornella Salloum, Creative Producer
FISK, Graphic Design & Branding
Upcoming Performances, Screenings & Events:
Mother Melancholia
January 19 - 21st, 2023, Los Angeles, CA
Feb 10th - 13th, 2023, New York, NY
Romance (World Premiere)
March 24th - 26th, 2023, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Mother Melancholia
May 20th, 2023, Cologne, Germany