The spring of 2015 brought a wonderful company into my life. Blessed Unrest, helmed by Jessica Burr and Matt Opatrny, is a innovative, intense, and imaginative company that has created some of my favorite works thus far in my career. Jessica and Matt are kind, loving people who are constantly pushing my boundaries and exposing me to new ideas. These two shows are hopefully just the beginning of a long relationship.
Doruntine is a collaboration between Blessed Unrest and Theatri ODA of Prishtina, Kosova. The tale of Doruntine is of an impossible marriage that crosses cultural boundaries, an epic journey on horseback, and a brother who defies the grave to bring his sister home. Inspired by the Albanian folk legend, this mythic journey of family loyalty brings forth questions of love, devotion, and heritage.
Creating the aural landscape for Doruntine was a unique challenge. Jessica and her co-director Florent Mehmeti, wanted to bring both past and present Albanian cultural references into our world. With current popular music a contemporary period was established, but traditional folkloric melodies mingle to bring a sense of the old world traditions guiding the narrative. In addition to setting time and place with music, a mythical soundscape was needed to bring the otherworldly events into the play. I wanted a sense of nature to overtake the ambience. The timelessness of the sound of the Earth grounded the ambient, giving music the ability to determine period. Wood, wind, and weather were guiding elements to creating the soundscapes for various locations.
The idea of the Besa runs through the narrative. A Besa is a promise that can never be broken. Constantine must return his sister to her home, because he gave his Besa to their mother. Neither time nor death can break the oath. The aural representation of this promise needed to be both immortal, ethereal and yet corporeal. The sound I created reflects both wind and a musical note.
From the Press:
“This rare and rousing play turns Blessed Unrest and Teatri ODA into cultural ambassadors as they honor an often-overlooked region and history. Both Doruntine—and the world to which it belongs—deserve much wider exposure. Still not convinced? You should have seen the standing ovation.”
~ Sarah Matusek, New York Theatre Review
“This is a well-acted, smoothly written, and excitingly staged work of cultural blending. The opportunity to see it is the kind of thing for which we can be grateful.”
~ Jon Sobel, blogcritics.org
“a captivating play on a timeless, precious tale about love, loyalty and promises”
~ Angel Lam, theasy.com
“hauntingly beautiful bilingual collaboration…extraordinary and fascinating, the movement is exciting, and the message of the power of inner strength and belief is inspiring.”
~ Mark Savitt, Hi Drama
"Physical theater encompasses the aural as well as the visual: words have sound as well as sense, a music that, whether or not it could be called a universal language, transcends the particular. Perhaps Burr and Mehmeti’s subtlest achievement is that in telling a story from a specific culture they have made it, on multiple levels, both one and many."
-John Osburn, Osburnt.com