When I attended a show at the Raj House on opening night of the Adelaide Fringe season, I spotted this glamorous and beautiful looking human being who was o-w-n-i-n-g the dance floor with his 6-inch stilettos. As a tiny human myself, heels and stilettos are, unfortunately, not part of my wardrobe, but this beautiful man made me wish I could be as graceful as him. I knew that I needed to know who this man was. So, after mustering the courage to initiate a conversation with him, we got talking. And his story is one for you all to know about!
Meet Raimis Ray, who is Adelaide Fringe Sassy Buddha. Describing his show as "an immersive, physical, vocal and hypnotic exploration of the intersection of drama and dharma; compassion and camp", Raimis's show aims to break down any and all stereotypes by allowing his audience members to feel pure joy, freedom, and a sense of enlightenment. You can bet your entire life that you will feel 10x more fabulous at the end of the show, as I felt after spending an afternoon with Raimis and talking all things Sassy Buddha:
Tema: Can you please tell me a little bit about yourself, Raimis? Raimis: I was born in the United States, near the beautiful city of Chicago. I was born and raised by patriotic Lithuanian immigrants and am now travelling back along the path of my parents' migration. I've been in Australia for 2 years as a citizen and am absolutely loving it. It was a split second decision to move here and since doing so, I've opened up to an entire new self and perspective on life. I feel great!
Tema: We talked a bit about your journey of travelling and how it helped you gained a new perspective – can you tell me a little bit more about that? How does that fit with the creation of this show? Raimis: It has been 2 years of following my gut. To be honest, I might be running away from something, but I haven't yet figured out what it is - so I simply allow myself to keep moving. It is in looking back at my movements that I see clues to what I want and what I need (this is true for improvised dance movement as well). I was never able to stop and tell myself that I wanted to work and train as a performer, but after watching myself be drawn to countless training sessions and performance opportunities, it became clear that this was my path. Sassy Buddha is, in a way, that voice that has encouraged me to keep following what I feel intuitively and simply let loose and open up all my energy to these passions. Sassy Buddha has been with me every time I've paused in a mirror and thought "Wow, I have no idea how you got here, but, I love what you're doing and you must keep going."
Tema: What made you create this concept of a show? What inspired you to set up this show? Raimis: Sassy Buddha was always a concept or voice that was there for me and now I want to share and show a bit of his journey and magic. In my time of reinventing myself, I had two distinct pathways unfolding: a spiritual and meditative self, and a flamboyant, wild, and shameless self. The name 'Sassy Buddha' popped into my head the moment I decided it was time to intertwine these pathways and figure out who the heck I am. From that moment, I have been training in physical theatre (Knobbs-Suzuki, Butoh), contemporary dance, Kundalini Yoga, mantra meditation and other experimental dance forms. I continued my training and was able to help this character/energy develop through the wise and caring support of my teachers and colleagues in Brisbane.
Tema: What is the basic idea of your show? Raimis: You will feel as if you've entered the luxurious cave dwelling of a mythical creature. You might realize that you came here to receive something or learn something. What follows is a mix of what Sassy Buddha wants to deliver and what you've brought with yourself into the room. We move together, we speak together, all with an aim of strengthening our expression and self. It is heavily improvised because, frankly, it's honestly happening right there in that room at that moment.
Tema: What can people expect from attending your show? Raimis: There will be quite a few surprised people. It's not like anything you've seen before. I promise that Sassy Buddha is here with compassion and empathy and wants to see you smile and feel more fabulous than ever.
Tema: What are the core themes that you're hoping to present in your show? Raimis: Eliminate shame. Align yourself. Speak, move, act with purpose and joy.
Tema: What made you choose the venue – Raj House (brilliant spot, by the way!)? Raimis: I have worked with Joel Allan (General Manager of Raj House and Producer of Rajopolis) in the past and I supremely respect his work. Watch the people around him and you will notice his true vocation to recognize and cultivate emerging talent. Raj House is an absolutely wonderful and colourful environment to feel supported and encouraged in trying something new and honest.
Tema: Is this your first time participating in the Adelaide Fringe? How are you finding it so far? Raimis: This is my second time at Adelaide Fringe. Last year, I was invited by my good friend and mentor Scott Sneddon to take part in a children's show called "Dinoslam!" It feels like coming home. There is a lot of work to be done, but I really enjoy diving into the flow and having fun. You'll always see me everywhere––dancing around as Raimis or Sassy Buddha or as something delightfully in-between.
Tema: Have you been involved with other Fringe festivals around Australia or overseas? Raimis: No but I certainly plan to.
Tema: Is there anything else that you'd like our readers to know about your show? Raimis: I encourage everyone to be involved and bring themselves to the festival. Of course, Sassy Buddha is a great way to get started and get into it, but, I expect everyone to stay active outside of the show. This is festival season! Take that lipstick and dash it across your cheekbones! Turn your drapes into capes! Jump up on the mic when it's free in the street! We are all here to celebrate expression!
Sassy Buddha will be gracing the BoardRoom at Raj House during the Adelaide Fringe season, from March 1 - March 9. Book your tickets here for a truly spiritual, magical, and life-changing experience! If you can't make it on any of those days, you might want to check out Secret Hyde Away, which is being held on 2 Mondays - March 5 and March 12 - which will feature Sassy Buddha and other Fringe artists in a glamorous Fringe-verse at the Raj House.
Want to know more? Connect with Raimis via his social media platforms: Facebook // Instagram