From penny to paisa

  • Studio 7 interprets Brecht to reflect contemporary Nepali reality
- Sudeep Baral, Kathmandu
From penny to paisa

Dec 13, 2014-

For Sabine Lehman of Studio 7, an enthusiast of Brechtian theatre, nothing is more interesting than helming the staging of Brecht’s work. And this was evident during the staging of “The Three Paisa Opera”, an adaptation of Brecht’s “The Three Penny Opera”, a drama that rocked the theatre scene of Berlin in the 1920’s with its vehement tirade against capitalism.

The drama tracks the life of Mac the Knife (Raymon Das Shrestha), an attractive criminal who elopes with Polly (Sujata Koirala), daughter of the Peachums (Shishir Bangdel and Sabine Hauk).

The Peachums are a rich couple who’ve made easy money through their manpower agency. Angry with their daughter’s eloping with Mac, they plan to get Mac nabbed and hanged. Toward this end, the Peachums mobilise their money and power. They bribe Jenny (Rojita Buddharcharya), one of Mac’s lovers, with money. They also threaten the chief of police, Tiger Brown (Aashant Sharma), also Mac’s friend, saying that they will organise a rally against him during Constitution Jatra. This forces Brown to side with the Peachums, as the rally could potentially lead to his being toppled.

The play has sections that seem like dream sequences: the narration is interspersed with bits of song and dance, wherein the characters sing songs that seem like love ballads but whose lyrics are exceedingly dark. But Lehman’s adaptation mellows  down the dark tone of Brecht’s ballads and songs while retaining the original meaning. Similarly, to make the drama more relevant to the Nepali context, Lehman has chosen satires and jibes that suit the messy political condition of the country.

The play, performed with the painting of a dove in the background, attempts to make the audience reflect on the effects of corrupt establishments and stripped moral values. And it does this without letting its astute observations drown either in the lover’s emotional outpourings, or in the humourous sequences of the play. In doing so, it stays true to Brecht’s diktat that the purpose of a drama is to enlighten the viewers and make them socially and politically aware.

 The first leg of the play’s staging will end today. The second leg will go on from December 19 to 21 at 6:30 pm at Naga Theatre, Hotel Vajra.

Ticket price: Rs 800 (tea and show included). Student discount is also available.

Published: 14-12-2014 09:47

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