Created by Jackie Dempsey and Steve O'Hearn with SQUONK
With Jackie Dempsey, Anna Elder, Kevin Kornicki, Steve O'Hearn, David Wallace and Heidi Nagle
In Mayhem and Majesty, the sonic hooligans of Squonk pose the question...what does music look like?
The show's name derives from Squonk's Scottish reviews, "Masterly Mayhem" and "Insane Majesty," and is 'a tsunami of sound and light...a hypnotic celebration of musical sound and what that sound does to the soul."
This project is partially supported by a grant from Pennsylvania Performing Arts on Tour, a program developed and funded by The Heinz Endowments; the William Penn Foundation; the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency; and The Pew Charitable Trusts; and administered by Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation.
Click Here to view photos from the Squonk set.
Squonk Opera's first show was performed in a Pittsburgh junkyard, with choreographed cranes and roaring earthmovers and screaming machine shears over 20 years ago. An ensemble of musicians, artists and technicians led by artist Steve O’Hearn and composer Jackie Dempsey, we create post-industrial performances with original music, design, and staging from our home in Pittsburgh, where beer-fed bands, big machines, sports and byzantine ritual drive our aesthetic.
Squonkwork aspires to be fast, funny, shameless and inclusive: an art that includes the cheap thrills of a monster truck show, as well as the fragile beauty of the hothouse high art.
Since 1992, Squonk Opera has created eleven original productions and has performed in more than 250 venues across the United States. In 1995, we were commissioned by Marc Masterson to create Night of The Living Dead: The Opera for Pittsburgh’s City Theatre. Squonk was an Off-Broadway hit in 1999, a show that Ben Brantley of The New York Times called “ingenious, hallucinatory, hypnotic.” The show was then transferred to Broadway in 2000, where it received an American Theater Wing Special Effects Design Award. Squonkumentary, a film about our time in NYC, was produced by independent filmmaker Peggy Sutton in 2005.
We have been touring internationally since 2003 - to Scotland, Belgium, Germany and South Korea, where we opened both the Busan International Performing Arts Festival and the World Music Theater Festival. Over 500,000 people have seen us around the world. We have been fortunate enough to receive 6 grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, MAP Fund and the Henson Foundation. We have performed workshops and residencies at over fifty universities, middle schools and museums all over the United States. In addition to the production you will see today, Squonk Opera is currently touring GO Roadshow, which the Boston Globe has called a “carnival on wheels.” This show-making machine is a 34-foot long truck retrofitted with truck-horn calliope, a wall made of rotors and a spinning grand piano that is played while it wheels around.
This evening you will see Mayhem and Majesty, in which the Squonkers push the boundaries of musical athleticism and visual wizardry, while asking the question…“What does music look like?” We have taken the show all over the country, from Seattle to North Carolina to New Jersey. The title is derived from a quote from our time in Scotland, where The Scotsman headlined “Masterly Mayhem" and "Insane Majesty!” Pittsburgh Magazine has called it “a tsunami of sound and light…a hypnotic celebration of musical sound and what that sound does to the soul.” In this show, we focus in on music and sound, its impact on the world and the mind. Please let go of any expectation of story - this performance is above, and below that, pre-verbal and post-narrative.
It is, just, “deeds of music made visible.”
'Images of strange and startling beauty percolate through Squonk Opera's Mayhem and Majesty, a small spectacle of a show occupying that hard-to-classify intersection where live music meets visual arts." - The New York Times
"One of the most unique shows New York has ever seen!" - Broadway World
"Outstanding musical performers!" - Manhattan with a Twist
"Dynamic and compelling - Cue the mayhem!" - Stageology
"Fantastical, with visual effects to match!" - New York Theatre Review