My relationship to the artistic creation is sacred, living in a mysterious place where my body creates constellations of memory, sensation, and meaning. Theatre is a mystifying presence, yet where I feel seen, like an old friend whose understanding of me is both comforting and confronting. Theatre is a tool of reassociation, a touchstone, and where I have learned to understand the world. Performance began as ritual; providing a space to elicit the deep witness in a collective setting. Providing a space for communities to vulnerably speak the truth is a radical political act. I see myself as a carrier of an ancient lineage. Art can see us and understand us in ways we do not yet know ourselves.
Samantha Shay
Samantha Shay is a multidisciplinary artist, performer, director of theatre and film, and movement artist. As a creative instigator, catalyzer and master collaborator, her acclaimed body of work challenges traditional boundaries, creates new connections, and dances across the fault lines between disciplines. She is currently a Special Research Fellow in Theatre Directing at the David Geffen School of Drama at Yale, and is also the Artistic Director of Source Material, an interdisciplinary production company and artist collective, which she founded in 2014. From 2021 - 2023 Samantha was a Guest Artist & Researcher at Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, where she began as a Fulbright Scholar in 2021. During that time she created and launched numerous projects, some of which are still in development.
Samantha’s theatrical work has been produced at The Grotowski Institute, the Theatre Olympics, RedCat, HERE Arts (New York), Tjarnarbio (Iceland), LungA (Iceland), and the Edinburgh International Fringe. As a filmmaker, she has made ambitious music videos for KÁRYYN, JFDR, Sóley, Mariee Siou, and Katie Gately, among others. Katie Gately’s Waltz, directed by Shay and starring dancer Bobbi Jene Smith was an international success, playing numerous festivals, including BAFTA and Academy Award qualifying HollyShorts and CineQuest.
In 2016 her original piece, ‘of Light’, gained international attention when it was developed under the mentorship of Marina Abramović , endorsed by 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 as Best New Track on Pitchfork.
From 2017-2019 Samantha’s original piece made in collaboration with The Grotowski Institute and Nini Julia Bang, ‘A Thousand Tongues’ toured Europe and the US, receiving two nominations for Gríman – The Icelandic Theatre Awards – including Most Innovative Performance. In 2020 she made her first short dance film ‘Homesick’, in collaboration with Danielle Agami (Batsheva Dance Company, Ate9) which is published exclusively on NOWNESS. In 2020 she also directed 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 as “like a lyrical essay, poetic, emotive and fluid,” and it has been used as a resource by numerous academic and critical researchers as a pivotal theatrical work during the pandemic.
In 2021 Samantha received a Fulbright Scholarship Award to work with Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, where she was highly focused on research into the works of Pina Bausch, and original artistic creations emerging from that research. During her time, she developed several projects, as well as assisted on a restaging of Bausch’s Blaubart, under the rehearsal direction of Barbara Kaufmann and Helena Pikon. Her first creation in collaboration with the company was ‘Mother Melancholia’ and was co-commissioned by Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, and premiered at the Pina Bausch Zentrum in Wuppertal, and is currently playing festivals internationally. The film won the Audience Choice Award at Cinedans in the Netherlands.
In March 2023 at Cinedans she premiered her second Wuppertal-based work: Romance a dance film in response to her research 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 is also currently circulating festivals worldwide.
In October 2023 she accepted an award for outstanding achievement in dance film at Choreoscope in Barcelona, in connection with her two latest films, Mother Melancholia, and Romance. Samantha is still based in Wuppertal, and currently a Special Research Fellow at the David Geffen School of Drama at Yale, where she is preparing her first stage works since the pandemic, alongside a series of short films emerging from the same creation. The new stage project is a radical restaging of one of her earliest works, and will be produced in partnership with the Grotowski Institute and the Pina Bausch Zentrum in 2024.
Upcoming Performances, Screenings & Events:
Mariee Siou: Circle of Signs
Brighton, UK
March 11th, 2024

Cologne, Germany
March 17th, 2024

February/March 2024

Table for one, please
Amsterdam, NL
March 22nd, 2024

Nice, France
May 13th - 16th, 2024