A multimedia performance work by Shaun Irons & Lauren Petty

Created and Conceived by Shaun Irons & Lauren Petty
Video and Media and live-processing by Shaun & Lauren

Performers (live): Jim Fletcher, Saori Tsukada, Laura Bartczak, Marion Spencer
Performers (video): Scott Shepherd, Madeline Best
Narration: Christina Campanella
Additional music: Brian Rogers, Olivier Conan
Voiceovers: Olivier Conan, Kate Valk, Shaun Irons
Costumes and Props: Amy Mascena
Ending choreography: Shandoah Goldman
Lighting: Jon Harper

It is seventeen minutes past midnight, Oceanic Time. You're sitting in a theater of sorts — a show is about to begin — there is an occasional flicker of light — a sonic shudder — an atmosphere of electronic energy — you look down at the program in your hand, black letters spell the words Why Why Always...

In this sci-fi misadventure of secret agents and seductresses, where Alphaville meets ASMR — mesmeric whispers fill the air, lighters flash, linens are folded, and a super computer is foiled. Why Why Always conjures a live cine-performance through the interplay of otherworldly video, music, sound and technology.

Why Why Always is a new interdisciplinary performance which embraces a dynamic interplay between theater, dance, installation art, and technology by integrating live performers, multi-screen video, live-feed cameras, fabricated environments and a vibrant tapestry of sound. A hybrid work, Why Why Always explores the rapidly evolving relationship between man and machine, considering the multifarious effects of technology on our collective consciousness. The piece draws on a variety of sources, namely Jean-Luc Godard's prescient 1965 film Alphaville, a poignant and timely parable of societal alienation and dehumanization, set in a dystopian future controlled by a sentient supercomputer, where feelings (and the words that describe them) are not only against the law but considered obsolete. Using the film as a point of departure, Why Why Always, searches for the human, irrational and emotional amidst a landscape of mechanization, isolation and control.

The project also draws on the phenomenon of online ASMR videos, which reveal repetitive yet mesmeric activities (including whispering, tapping and towel folding), purported to provoke neurological responses, simultaneously calming and stimulating viewers. Re-imagined versions of ASMR activities are performed throughout the piece, serving as an emotional counterpoint, and adding a choreographic, hypnotic texture.


Shaun Irons and Lauren Petty are Brooklyn based, multiplatform artists who make interdisciplinary performances, multimedia installations, films and interactive video scores for live performance. Recent projects include a feature-length documentary Standing By: Gatz Backstage about ERS's epic production Gatz, Keep Your Electric Eye On Me, a multimedia performance seen at HERE (2014), as well as a self-generating video installation, Atmospheres & Accidental Ghosts (NY Electronic Arts Festival, 2015). Their work has been seen in NYC, nationally, and internationally at venues such as BAM, The Brooklyn Museum, Abrons, The Chocolate Factory, Anthology Film Archives, Tokyo Wonder Site, and the Venice Biennale. They have received numerous awards including grants, fellowships and residencies from the NEA, NYSCA, NYFA, LMCC, Jerome Foundation, Harvestworks, Asian Cultural Council, Signal Culture, Yaddo, Macdowell, and the Bogliasco Foundation. www.automaticrelease.org

Jim Fletcher (Ivan Johnson/Lemmy Caution) is a New York actor who works with the New York City Players (Isolde, 2015), the Wooster Group (Cry, Trojans!, 2015), and Half Straddle (House of Dance, Lisbon, 2015) among many others. In 2016, he appeared in Locus Solus, directed by Krzysztof Garbaczewski at Volksbüne, Berlin.

Saori Tsukada (Natacha, Professor Von Braun, etc.) Described as a "charismatic mover with astounding precision", Saori Tsukada harnesses her ability in theater, dance, in between and beyond. Tsukada was nominated for Best Actress twice at Dublin Fringe Festival for her acclaimed collaborative projects with the composer/theater artist John Moran. Her bilingual solo performance work Club Diamond (co-created by Nikki Appino) will premiere at Days and Nights Festival (CA) this fall. www.clubdiamond.org

Laura Bartczak (Seductress #5, Beatrice, etc.) Laura Bartczak is a movement artist based in Brooklyn. She has performed in works throughout NYC and internationally by artists including Laurel Atwell, Lindsey Drury, Thea Little, Hadar Ahuvia, and Shandoah Goldman among others. Her films have been presented by Gina Gibney Dance, DCTV, Dance Film Association, Mono No Aware, Hypnocraft, Catch, and TAB.

Marion Spencer (Seductress #7, etc.) Marion is a performer, dance maker and dance educator based in New York City. Since moving to New York Marion has had the pleasure of collaborating and performing with Shandoah Goldman/Carte Blanche Performance, Michiyaya Dance, Vanessa Justice Dance, Kinesis Dance Project, Hollis Bartlett, and Megan Bascom. She has apprenticed with David Dorfman Dance since June 2015. Marion also makes her own work and teaches dance to youth and adults in the New York area.

Christina Campanella (narration, original song) is a composer, performer and sound artist. No Wake (for 14 instrumentalists and video object), performed by the Great Learning Orchestra, visuals by Peter Norrman, premiered at Fylkingen, Stockholm 2015; Lighthouse 40°N, 73°W (Harvestworks AIR: NY Electronic Art Festival 2015, HERE Arts Center). Appears in film, theater, music throughout the US and Europe, is a frequent collaborator of composer Joe Diebes, and a two-time recipient of NYSCA's Individual Artist Commission in Film, Media, and New Technologies. www.xtinasworld.com

Olivier Conan (voiceovers) is a Brooklyn based French musician, producer and voice over artist who has toured South America with his Peruvian flavored project Chicha Libre, dubbed many a Korean cartoon into French and produced hundreds of concerts at Barbès, MoMA, Pioneer Works and other places around NYC.

Amy Mascena (props, costumes) is a Brooklyn based visual and installation artist. She previous worked with Shaun & Lauren creating sculptural objects and drawings for their large-scale multimedia installation Revolving Twilight and more recently created a table top installation and custom made candy for their performance Keep Your Electric Eye On Me. Amy was awarded a NYSCA theater commission to design props for Why Why Always.

Shandoah Goldman (choreography, final sequence) is the choreographer and founder of Carte Blanche Performance. She holds a M.A from London Contemporary Dance School as well as a B.A from Bennington College. She has presented her work at Joyce Soho, Ailey CitiGroup Theatre, Spoke the Hub, Wild Project, CPR, Rabbithole, Dixon Place, Pioneer Works, Roulette, as well as many site-specific locations. She has been an artist in residence at Art Omi, chashama, Pioneer Works and Residencias del Sur in Buenos Aires. Her current project will premier on The High Line in July. www.carteblancheperformance.com

Jon Harper (lighting) is a lighting designer, and also the Technical Director/Production Manager of Abrons Arts Center, and is happy to have helped Shaun and Lauren with their lighting for this show. He previously designed their piece Keep Your Electric Eye On Me at HERE Arts Center, and has been saying "Why, Why, Always?" ever since. He is also married to Madeline Best of the Chocolate Factory Theater, and is the proud father of the most mischief-minded 14-month-old there maybe ever was.

Special thanks to Abrons Arts Center - Jay Wegman, Maedhbh McCullagh, Jon Harper and Kenny Olguin - you are all tireless and amazingly supportive! Thanks to Tara O'Con who was involved in early exploratory rehearsals and video shoots. Thanks to Carol Parkinson and Harvestworks for technical support and equipment loans and to Monks Vintage Brooklyn for many of the costumes. Also, thanks to Ariana Smart Truman, Jim Findlay, Markus Paminger, Jim Dawson, Ben Williams, our intern Zoe Argires and to our dedicated performers.
© shaun irons & lauren petty 2016. all rights reserved.