WRITTEN & DIRECTED BY BRETT BAILEY
CHOREOGRAPHY BY VINCENT MANTSOE
COMPOSER AND MUSICAL DIRECTION BY SHANE COOPER
DESIGN BY BRETT BAILEY & TANYA P. JOHNSON
A sensuous, poetic and thought-provoking ritual–music–theatre piece, based on the powerful Old Testament hero myth of domination, betrayal and rebellion, and set in a dystopian contemporary context of political extremism, inequality, human displacement and violence.
The biblical story of SAMSON is a compelling, if bewildering, tale of humiliation, romance, betrayal and violent revenge (Judges 13 – 16). It recounts the struggle of a mythical strongman who is anointed by the Hebrew god to liberate his people from their Philistine overlords. Following a series of victories, he is betrayed into the hands of his enemies by Delilah, a Philistine woman, who seduces him into revealing that his power resides in his hair. Blinded and jailed for several years, he is finally exhibited within the royal court, but his hair has regrown, his power is restored, and he brings down the state in an act of apocalyptic self-immolation.
Scouting for a new work a year ago, Brett reflected on how the Greek tragedians extrapolated stories from their sacred myths and harnessed them to speak to contemporary issues. He trawled the bible for stories, eventually settling on SAMSON.
Beyond the violence and the heroics of the myth, he has found a great deal of sadness in the story. A central theme of the work is loss: of home, of self, of faith, of so much fragile beauty to the blind forces of avarice. His interpretation brings the tale crashing into the 21st century, and orders it within his ongoing concerns around migration, intolerance, colonialism, and oppressive capitalist policies. SAMSON also draws on his fascination with shamanism, ritual, the repressed and the non-rational.
SAMSON, which will premiere in Cape Town in March 2019, will be a richly visual work of theatre, contemporary dance and electronic music: the escalating drama unfolding like a dream. It makes use of ensemble singing, text, opera, experimental electronica and the deep bass of dubstep.
The work will be choreographed by one of South Africa’s most celebrated dancer-choreographers, Vincent Mantsoe, whose shamanic spiritual orientation infuses his work. The live electronic music score is by award winning South African jazz and electronic musician-composer, Shane Cooper; performed onstage by a 4-piece outfit.
Supported by the National Lotteries Commission and Institut Francais in collaboration with US Woordfees and the National Arts Festival.