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Ashish Sen and his team adapt Brecht’s famous social satire for city audiences

Bertolt Brecht’s Three Penny Opera comes alive through Ashish Sen’s contemporary adaptation re-titled Three Penny Rocks starring popular city actors. Along with a whole lot of music, dance and fun. Brecht’s musical satire on social hierarchy and the blurred lines between right and wrong is translated into a modern setting replete with mobs and gangster rivalry.

CultureLead1Underbelly morals
“Music, satire and farce is used to bring out the failings and mockeries of agents in power today,” begins Sen, making a clear reference to political parties and their antics in the light of the upcoming elections. “We have simply adapted the play to make it more topical and relatable,” Sen adds.
The narrative, filled with glitzy gangster style violence, tells of the “life and times of a young gangster (Macheath) who elopes with his rivals daughter (Polly) sparking off acts of vengeance”.
“As the story unfolds, we are taken through various situations and circumstances that reflect current social realities,” shares Sen who has put together a cast of nearly 30 actors and dancers.

 

Evolving adaptations
The originally German play that debuted in 1928 has been adapted for stage on numerous occasions and for celluloid in a film titledCultureLead4 Mack the Knife starring Richard Harris and Julie Walters. Brecht based his play on John Gay’s 18th century English ballad opera, The Beggars Opera and used satire and music to bring about the glaring class divisions of the time. What Sen does with his own adaptation is much the same as he uses the narrative to bring out the erosion of principles in politics today.
“I have always deeply admired Brecht’s writing and am very excited to be working on this particular piece after a very long time,” says Sen who adds that the energy and excitement of the “entire process has been great”.
Ten of the principle characters are played by well-known theatre names like Karn Malhotra, Priya Mendens, Helen Issar and Munira Sen, as well as a whole crop of new talent. Look out for some top notch musical interludes by Carlton Braganza, a ten-member strong ensemble cast and a bevy of professional dancers. “It is a Brecht classic written in true blue Brechtian style,” Sen sums up.

February 9. 7.30 pm. At Chowdiah Memorial Hall, Malleswaram. Tickets (Rs 200 and Rs 350) at indianstage.in. Details: 23443956

Susanna Chandy

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