Theatre of the soul

‘There is no distinction in our play Sarai between mythology and ideology, religion and history or science and art.’
— Paul Anthony Morris, Creative Director

For the last four weeks the artistic team have worked tirelessly together to envisage and breathe life into Sarai's epic journey to found a new nation. Collectively they have lifted the heroic character off the page and onto the stage. 

Rehearsal Photographs by

The Writer/ Director's Vision for Sarai

The artistic vision for Sarai was to break free in practice from the dogma of western dramatic storytelling and adopt instead an intercultural philosophical approach to theatre making to promote the universality of our themes.

The anthropological context out of which our art form ‘Theatre of the Soul’ has emerged presented us with the ability to integrate multiple disciplines into our narrative so as to access the subconscious states of the epic performance. As a result there is no distinction in our play Sarai between mythology and ideology, religion and history or science and art. All are viewed as one reality and compressed into a theatrical dialogue to create wonder, introspection and passion.

The exploration of the inner life of our protagonist Sarai also bears the hallmarks in practice of an ecstatic struggle that transcends old age perceptions in favour of an exposition that is universally significant and distinctive.
— Paul Anthony Morris, Writer and Director

A Composer's Inspiration 

It has been an intensive all embracing expedition creating the sound scape for Sarai. There are so many historical, socio-political and humanitarian chronicles to her journey. This is a multi-faceted legend that is at once specific and universal in time. As a monologue I felt it was vital for the music to tell multiple stories and represent the heart of the human psyche in her experience and where it leads her. The musical compositions are the meeting ground of Jazz, Sufi, European Classical and World Folk. I dived deep into these traditions for the raw materials from which to build.
— Byron Wallen, Composer, Musical Director and Musican

The Choreography's Interpretation

For me, at the heart of Sarai is humanity. At a time, when society is losing its sense of compassion and understanding I feel this work can trigger thoughts and in-depth conversations around the underlying issues we are currently experiencing in the world.

The text and emotional states of Sarai have driven the movement and choreography. By working with aspects of the gestural and mime elements of Bharatanatyam and a hybridised approach to abstract representation a dance/movement vocabulary evolved that felt true to both the character of Sarai and to the performer.
— Shane Shambhu, Choreographer

Becoming Sarai - An Actress' Journey

SARAI’s story is indeed epic and one that I am honoured to have had the privilege of telling. Working through the rehearsals and delving into her story with Paul, the director, I was able to connect with SARAI on so many levels which not only resonated with me personally as a woman, but also universally as a human being. My aim was to transmit this to the audience as honestly and openly as possible.
— Karlina Grace-Paseda, Actress

The Designer's Perspective

The story of Sarai is from long ago and far away. Early into the design process, it became clear that in telling this story we are bringing it to the here and now, and to a timeless everywhere. For me, the purpose of my design has been to find this universality. The answer as I see it lies in the imagery of our human form, our common frailty. 
— Victoria Johnstone, Designer

Lighting a Production

Designing the lighting for Sarai came from responding to the text, music and choreography, as well as supporting the set design. The journey of Sarai is one of many emotions, heightened emotions played out to the audience, as well as deep internal emotions which have an influence on Sarai’s state of mind. It was important to support the physicality of the piece, as well as the emotive journey, and therefore a stylised, more abstract design was developed to support the piece and provide an atmospheric environment for the actress and musicians on stage.
— Prema Mehta

Providing the Heart Beat 

The story of Sarai is so great it is hard to grasp the whole picture. There are so many layers of meaning. I decided to start rehearsals by seeing it from a microcosmic point of view with visceral interpretations. In other words, I am seeing Sarai as a very personal story. I have just started my journey of living Sarai’s journey, trying to find the best way for me to relate to this remarkable woman through devising and playing the music that intertwines with the story. I am very much looking forward to the next 3 weeks, I shall continue the journey and live the events again and again with the team, all of whom are representing and adding different elements and layers of and to the piece. I wonder how my perspective will evolve.
— Nao Masuda, Musician

Finding the Soul of Sarai

Sarai’s story is intriguing and a moving account of an historic tale with huge relevance in today’s world. As a woman, my immediate instinct was to search for ways to identify with her emotionally, and with the many women of today who relive some of her inner and outer struggles on a daily basis. As a musician in this production, it has been a challenge to find ways to interpret her emotional psyche at various stages in her story. Sarai’s journey highlights the strength, endurance, hardship & pain many have dealt with throughout the ages.

Psychologically, this production is a work in progress for me as it has conjured up a whole range of questions to find answers to, and emotions to come to terms with, over the next three weeks of performance.
— Jenny Adejayan, Musician

Sarai's Digital Legacy

One of the intentions as the Creative Producer for Sarai was to explore different ways to connect the audience to the production prior to, and after the performance. The website design provided an ideal platform to communicate the creative process and the multidisciplinary approach taken by the Writer/ Director to bring Sarai to the stage.

The outcome is a rich and insightful documentation of the collaborative theatrical journey. The fusion of film and imagery, live tweets from the rehearsal room and the artists’ revelations, as they experienced Theatre of the Soul, clearly illustrates how the company was able to create a highly visceral, multi-sensory production.
— Sarah Nunn, Creative Producer

A Photographer's Perspective

What began as an afternoon shoot for the marketing campaign for “Sarai” developed into a more immersive and provocative engagement for me as photographer. My role was partly to document – to produce a series of images that captured the essence of the creative process and the production itself. But I wanted to go beyond documentation and explore a more personal visual narrative that reflected my own perspective of this multi-layered theatrical experience – and to reveal stories that would not otherwise be seen.

Sarai’s story of abandoning her homeland and embarking on an arduous journey to fulfill her destiny has a timeless quality. Her story speaks to us as individuals - searching for purpose in our lives, confronting our vulnerability, living compassionately, building communities and realising our dreams. I hope that my photographs illuminate the production and express the deeper connection I developed both to “Sarai” and to the artists involved.
— Sarah Hickson, Photographer