Motley’s Imaad Shah will bring Bertolt Brecht’s raucous musical The Threepenny Opera, to St Andrew’s Auditorium over November 10 and 11. This is the seventh and final production to be staged under the Aadyam banner this year. In its third year, Aadyam is a theatre initiative by the Aditya Birla Group.
Mr Peachum, the owner of a small organization that makes outfitting and fake props for fake beggars in a really poor part of London, finds out that his daughter and only child, has fallen for and gotten married to the bandit Macheath. What follows is a crazy ride through a world of thieves, prostitutes, beggars, back alleys, and two-timing characters as Mr. and Mrs. Peachum go about trying to imprison Macheath and get back their dear daughter. The play is inherently naughty, sexual, playful and with a constant sympathy for the poor and downtrodden.
Says Imaad Shah, director, “This play has a really passionate and entertaining way of talking about a somewhat bleak worldview. It makes no bones in stating that the extremely rich of this earth live off the extremely poor. Thus, morals and abstract ideas concocted by society are of absolutely no significance when faced with the reality of survival. They are constructs of the classes of society that do not have to struggle for their two meals. It tackles a lot of ideas that I think are real mirrors to Indian society and also the world at large. But of course, it tackles these thoughts using a whole bunch of very energetic and incredibly catchy songs. It’s dark, it’s jazz-influenced, it’s sexy and cynical.”
The production will see an ensemble cast comprising Arunoday Singh, Bugs Bhargava Krishna, Meher Mistry, Delna Mody, Saba Azad, Joy Fernandes, Uday Chandra, Rahil Gilani, Vivaan Shah, Suhaas Ahuja, Auritra Ghosh, and Shazneen Acharia.
Motley has a period but post-modern take on the classic play. While it is very much set in the past, particularly the 1920s with sumptuous period costume and detailing, Imaad’s plan has been to work with musicians, stylists, designers, choreographers and dancers to create a world that is part Punk Rock, part Film Noir, part Cabaret and Jazz choreography with visually powerful tableaus and composition — all the while maintaining the premise of bawdy entertainment and an overwhelming music concert experience.
He adds, “My first interactions with the play some years ago were definitely with the music to start with. I found it really passionate, harmonically beautiful, and the stuff being said in the songs hit me in the gut. As I discovered the play itself and studied various versions of it, the more I felt that the characters mirrored a lot of things we see in our society today. The vast differences in the lives of the extremely rich and the extremely poor are dealt with a really interesting way. We have purposefully not adapted it to an Indian context because the original setting allows us to play with the absurd and be scathing about certain things. I really felt Indian audiences need to think these somewhat uncomfortable thoughts and be confronted with the beautiful cynicism of this play.”