From Iceland — Talking Heads

Talking Heads

Published October 5, 2012

Talking Heads

Sóley composes music for “Breaking News,” a play starring puppets

by Arit John

Television. Radio. Newspapers. Computers. People are constantly bombarded with news from every direction, in every form imaginable. Society has developed an addiction to information, and “Breaking News,” a nonverbal play by director Sara Martí Guðmundsdóttir and puppeteer Sigríður Sunna Reynisdóttir, tries to capture that with the help of puppetry.

The play is a collaborative effort between Sara, Sigríður, costume and stage designer Eva Signý Berger, light designer Ingi Bekk Einarsson and musician Sóley Stefánsdóttir, who will create the soundscape and music for the play.

“The play is about our relationship with news from a personal point of view. We’re not so much talking about what is in the news or how it’s made but how we as human beings have a daily relationship with news. How we consume news, how we can overdose on it,” Sigríður says.

Sóley first worked with Sara at the University of Iceland, when she composed music for “DNA,” Sara’s student theatre group production. The two have kept in touch, and when Sara and Sigríður needed a sound artist for “Breaking News,” Sóley was a logical choice.

“I’ve worked in music as well and I’m always fascinated to explore the relationship between puppetry/visual theatre and live music. So it’s been a real pleasure to work with Sóley in that way,” Sigríður says. “She’s very innovative and constantly brings new ideas to the table.”

Sóley, who has a degree in music composition, is creating sound to accompany the puppets’ movements. She’ll be trading in her keyboard for a computer, timing sounds such as alarm clock rings to onstage action. “There are no spoken words in it, so sound plays a big part,” Sóley says. “I think it’s a challenge because it’s not just me playing piano and singing, which I’m used to.”

Sóley’s onstage work will be a mixture of live performances and digitally produced sound art, in which she’ll incorporate radio and television news and introductory themes. Despite being out of her element, there is a specific mood Sóley’s sound art will try to capture—it’s society’s frantic scramble for information.

“Now when I’m listening to the news or reading the newspaper I’m always thinking of the play,” Sóley says. “It’s so funny how we’re all addicted to the news and we really want to hear bad news because that’s something that keeps us going. We’re always like ‘Give us more, give us more.’ It’s that kind of feeling.”

Premieres October 16 at The National Theatre of Iceland. There will be ten shows in total. The last two are a part of the Airwaves off-venue programme (October 31 and November 1 at 18:00). For Airwaves pass holders, the show costs 1,500 ISK (otherwise it’s 2200 ISK). More info at

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